Another name for white paper is special report. Some industries prefer the latter over the former, and for certain practical reasons, it is a better term. When targeted toward businesses (B2B), I prefer the term “white paper,” especially when the topic is technical in nature. For business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, however, “special report” is easier to understand for the average lay person, therefore, I prefer that term for B2C targeting.
With these distinctions in mind, anything said about producing white papers can generally be applied to special reports, and vice-versa. Today, I’d like to discuss the six special report formats that can make your B2C business brand an authority in your niche.
6 Special Reports to Use for Authority Branding (And When to Use Them)
The purpose in discussing these six special report formats is not to say this is an exhaustive list of special report types. Rather, I offer these six basic types of special reports as easy and popular ways to brand your business an authority in your niche. When done right, they can be compelling, spark an interest in your subject matter, and generate new leads for your business.
Now, without further ado, here are the special report formats I recommend for B2C authority branding:
- Features/Benefits – This is a very basic type of special report. When you want to showcase a new product or service with an in-depth discussion of its features and benefits, then this type of special report is gold. Use it for when a web page isn’t practical. For instance, if your product or service is complex and requires a more detailed description, a special report can do much more than a web page or blog post. I’d recommend offering the report for free so that your target market and potential customers can learn about your new product or service without putting out any expense. This is especially powerful if your product or service is so new that your innovation currently has no competition.
- Research Report – A research report is informational in nature and requires a fair amount of research into a topic that many members of your target audience may not know anything about. While the features/benefit report is primarily focused on educating your audience on your new product and soft selling that product, the research report is more about establishing you as an authority on a niche topic. For instance, if your goal is to establish a new type of equity crowdfunding platform, then you might offer a research report on the history and nature of equity crowdfunding. Your ultimate goal is to educate your audience on your specific product and/or service, but your immediate goal is simply to educate your audience on equity crowdfunding in general.
- Interview – An interview is a type of special report where you introduce your audience to a celebrity or successful person in your niche by interviewing them. It’s closely related to a case study, but it need not present a study into the success or failure of a particular individual, company, or product/service. Rather, the idea is simply to provide provocative content in the form of an interview. The interview subject could be someone in your company or an individual outside of your company who would be well known to your target audience. The key to delivering a successful interview report is to do a lot of background research on the topic you plan to discuss with your subject then to brainstorm intelligent questions designed to get your subject to open up about the topic and provide something interesting for your audience to read.
- Listicle – Listicles are articles written as lists. They may be numbered lists, lettered lists, or non-delineated lists. The key is to make a list of something and then write about it, but to write it out as an article. Therefore, it’s a hybrid form of content combining the best aspects of an article and the best qualities of a list. Done right, your listicle special report should provide unique insight into the nature of the topic you are writing about. Use this type of special report any time you want to present a unique point of view with a list of helpful tips or talking points for your audience.
- Compare/Contrast – Compare and contrast reports are just as the name suggests. You take two or more products, services, companies, etc. and compare and contrast them. To be successful at publishing this type of report, you’ve got to choose interesting subjects for comparison right off the bat. You can compare your company or product/service with those of competitors’, but it might be more compelling to leave your own brand out of it. Maybe you choose, instead, to compare/contrast competing ideas about a specific topic you deal with in your industry. This type of special report is great for establishing your company as a thought leader within your industry. Not only will potential customers be interested, but journalists and other industry insiders might be compelled to read your report, as well.
- The Argument – An argumentative special report is another type of report that will appeal to a broad audience of industry insiders, bloggers, and journalists. The idea is to take a position and defend it. It can be a controversial opinion, but it doesn’t have to be. You might decide to be contrarian in your viewpoint, or you may decide to challenge the prevailing view. Whatever your opinion, it needs to be strong and defended well with facts and well-researched supporting information. The best arguments make a big splash.
Now that you’ve got the low down on special reports, need help deciding which type of report you should present to your audience? Call me at 717-253-2306.
Are you ready to boost your authority? Looking for ways to expand your reach and deliver the best content for your niche audience? Download my free report, “14 Types of Authority Content.” Learn the 14 types of content that will keep your audience coming back for more and instantly make you an authority they can rely on.
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