When it comes to authority content, at the top of your list should be white papers. In fact, white papers are considered the most influential type of content by B2B decision makers, outranking product brochures and data sheets. If you manage a business whose primary customer is other businesses, this should give you something to think about. Perhaps a well-researched, well-written white paper on a topic your customers care about will help position your brand as an authority in your niche.
Today, I’d like to share five ways that white papers make authors and brands look like the authorities that they are:
- White papers tackle a common pain point – One of the most popular ways to establish authority in any field is to identify a problem and offer a solution. It’s a common sales tactic because it works. White papers are designed with this type of authority content in mind. Some of the best white papers identify a problem or pain point that is common to a specific class of decision makers, discuss that problem in-depthly, and offer a solution to the problem or somehow point decision makers to the solution. This is done without mentioning the name of your brand or a specific product.
- White papers go into detail about one specific topic – Another great benefit to white papers is that they cover one specific topic really well. How long a white paper needs to be depends on the topic, the solution, the brand or authority publishing it, and your budget. Obviously, longer white papers will require more research and more time/money to produce. However, they could also pay off in building authority for your brand. The best white papers cover one specific topic with as complete a discussion as possible given your resources.
- Great white papers are written objectively – Blog posts are often opinion pieces. White papers resemble academic papers in the sense that they are written objectively with an audience in mind. You can also compare them to journalistic articles that attempt to look at a particular topic from various angles. The author should come cross as knowledgeable on the topic but without biases.
- They are not self-promotional – One of the great qualities of white papers is their ability to cover a topic deeply without being self-promotional. A good white paper can highlight a pain point and offer a solution without mentioning your brand or product/service.
- White papers cite sources – White papers are predicated upon excellent research. In order to build authority, you’ve got to cite your sources. Think like a historian. A historian records the facts and figures of history, a particular period in history, or event. But, in order to build credibility with their audience, the historian must cite the sources from which they get their information. Ideally, primary sources are used. Secondary sources may be used to fill in where necessary or back up the main points of the paper. Citing sources in your objectively written, well-research white paper makes you more credible with your audience because it allows them to check your work to see if you’ve been thorough or misleading. There’s hardly any better way to build authority with your audience.
B2B decision makers rely on facts to make decisions. They are not easily swayed by strong opinions. The reason for this is because they realize that every decision they make will affect their bottom line and their reputation as a business professional. Quite often, business decisions are made by a group of professionals, or by multiple levels of expertise within a company. A good white paper will appeal to each decision maker by strengthening its arguments with great research, good sources of information with citations, and an objective writing style.
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