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Advantages of white papers for B2B companies


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White Papers enable B2B organisations to develop trust, partnerships and educate customers, while placing them as though leaders in the market.

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Advantages of white papers for B2B companies

  1. 1. ADVANTAGES OF WRITING WHITE PAPERS FOR B2B COMPANIES White papers are reports or guides which usually describes a problem or a situation and offers a solution or comprehensive overview in an analytical, objective manner. It has developed into a very effective marketing tool, keeping up with the trends in consumer psychology.
  2. 2. Goodman Lantern Limited (UK) Advantages of White Papers for B2B Companies TABLE OF CONTENT Introduction 2 White Papers 3 A. Types of white papers 3 B. Based on secondary research 3 1. Equally impactful as primary research 3 2. On an one-on-one basis 5 Secondary research can be more interesting to the public than primary research 5 Secondary research is analytical, primary research is observational 5 Secondary research can be more credible 5 Secondary research is fundamental to primary research 5 Secondary research is less expensive 5 Secondary research is quicker 6 3. Getting new customers 7 4. Beneficial for thought leadership 10 5. Competitors and white papers 11 6. In combination with social media 12 1 Source: Silicon Prairie News
  3. 3. Goodman Lantern Limited (UK) Advantages of White Papers for B2B Companies INTRODUCTION As much of a paradox as it may seem, in an age of communication, in-person communication has become obsolete. Businesses now have so many communication channels available, that the problem of efficient communication is always current and always challenged. Communication technology has had a tremendous impact on the distribution of information. Whereas before the internet age, information was very fragmented and primarily acquired through direct communication, now it is constantly made public, distributed, verified, commented on, linked, used or analysed with no need for human interaction. How has that influenced the market? In what is a natural occurrence given the actual context, both customers and companies have become much more independent from one another in the act of communication, with notable benefits for both parties. While customers have developed into educated consumers and even hyper-informed customers more recently, businesses have developed complex marketing strategies around building trust and durable partnerships through information and know-how sharing. White papers enable B2B organisations to develop trust, partnerships and educate customers, while placing them as though leaders in the market. 
 2 Source: Tech Cocktail
  4. 4. Goodman Lantern Limited (UK) Advantages of White Papers for B2B Companies White Papers White papers have proven to be a very efficient form of business communication in today's fast- paced environment. A white paper is a report or guide, which usually describes a problem or a situation and offers a solution or comprehensive overview in an analytical, objective manner. A white paper is meant to offer concise information and support relevant conclusions that are in line with the issuing body's own position on the matter. It has developed into a very effective marketing tool, keeping up with the trends in consumer psychology. A. Types of white papers A white paper is a versatile piece of content, easily adaptable to a variety of perspectives. It is an objective, analytical paper which should, in general terms, provide relevant information at any point in a problem-solution path. Content-wise, a white paper may either describe a situation, identify a problem, evaluate solutions, analyse outcomes or justify other reasonable assumptions, all in a critical, objective manner. However, in the business world, white papers have the undoubted commercial purpose of moving prospects through the sales funnel. Therefore, they should logically point to the conclusion that an organisation has the knowledge, expertise and tools required to answer to a need. From a format point of view, white papers enjoy the same flexibility. Some of the most popular types of formats are: presentation, point list, problem-solution and prediction. In conclusion, the only two requirements of white papers are: 1. It should present logical analysis based on relevant information 2. It should portray an organisation as either a solution provider, a thought or market leader or a trustworthy partner. B. Based on secondary research 1. Equally impactful as primary research Information that is relevant, accurate, up-to-date, inexpensive and easily accessible should be highly valuable business-wise. With very few exceptions, secondary research is a more adequate choice to respond to ordinary business needs than primary research. Unless the topic of a business research is very specific and needs a great level of control during the research, primary research remains a difficult to implement method, for a few obvious reasons: ● Obtaining primary data may be very costly, as this phase usually employs human resources and takes time ● Complex research methodologies and staff training are needed, as well as monitoring mechanisms, which add additional costs and time 3
  5. 5. Goodman Lantern Limited (UK) Advantages of White Papers for B2B Companies ● The response rate is uncertain, which could also add extra time. And as we all know, time is money ● While primary research can deliver specific targeted results, as the market is very fast-paced, by the time the results are available, the information can be obsolete. ● If the results are not conclusive or point to an additional path of research, the whole process needs to be re-started. On the other hand, secondary research makes use of primary research already available, saving time and money and delivering accurate results, by: ● Using authoritative sources of information to endorse the accuracy of the research-based ● Identifying and using trends and setting a relevant context for the research ● Gathering information from multiple sources, thus ensuring a comprehensive approach towards the topic ● Obtaining original analysis/correlations/conclusions, as each secondary research is unique in the way it compiles data ● Also, the available data is usually very extensive and allows for additional directions of research of needed, with significantly less effort
  6. 6. Goodman Lantern Limited (UK) Advantages of White Papers for B2B Companies 2. On an one-on-one basis Secondary research can be more interesting to the public than primary research Primary research is usually done for internal purposes, when there is a belief that secondary research may not be accurate enough for the company's needs. Primary research is meant to have a deep relevance only to the specific business. If any results of primary research are published, they are factual and have limited potential to receive attention. White papers based on secondary research and wider approach may make a business part of the general buzz about the topic, while at the same time make an official position of the company public. Secondary research is analytical, primary research is observational Primary research can rarely be used to document white papers, and almost never on its own. Primary research can be either qualitative, focused on content or quantitative, focused on numbers. While qualitative may have a great impact on business strategies, it can not be used in analytical papers. Quantitative research, however thorough, is in the end purely observational. Correlations are usually limited and narrow. On the other hand, secondary research uses trends, demographics, statistics, seasonal reports and other facts and figures to set a relevant context and develop a topic, however broad or focused. As resources are extensive, secondary research allows for innovative approach. Secondary research can be more credible For a small or local company, publishing a white paper based on the results of a primary research may not have the expected results. While a primary research needs to be highly specific to justify expenses, this specificity may generate content conflicts with other larger researches, conducted on regional or national levels and which are perceived as authoritative sources. Using credible sources in business white papers, while still making public the company's specific approach to the problem may add to the overall credibility of the business. Secondary research is fundamental to primary research If specific primary research is actually needed, secondary research can be used to gain an early understanding of the industry or market, to point out additional indicators, research directions or possible challenges. It may indicate potential target markets to be approached with primary research, prospect areas to be considered, appropriate methods and methodologies, etc. that may have a fundamental impact on the primary research project. Secondary research is less expensive Primary research is expensive. It takes a lot of resources to conduct interviews, surveys or experiments. Firstly, several people are usually needed to gather a relevant amount of data through primary research methods. They need to be trained and remunerated. They need trainers and managers. Facilities may need to be rented. Events to be organised. Promoting materials to be ordered. Further, execution methodologies are complex and need to be verified. Many agencies offer these services as a pack, but their price reflects the effort. Only after all these phases, the analysis phase begins. Secondary research costs, on the other hand, are equivalent to this last phase only. 5
  7. 7. Goodman Lantern Limited (UK) Advantages of White Papers for B2B Companies Secondary research is quicker All the above facts also illustrate the obvious extent to which secondary research is much quicker than primary research.
  8. 8. Goodman Lantern Limited (UK) Advantages of White Papers for B2B Companies 3. Getting new customers 1. Getting new customers Marketing has changed in the past few years, more than in the last few decades. Information technology is at the peak of doing what it's meant to do i.e. inform. According to Forbes, consumers have never been savvier, more connected, aware and interested . Customers have have adopted new1 technologies and interaction channels with unprecedented speed, causing the sales model where businesses controlled the commercial process by controlling information to become obsolete .2 Customers are now hyper-informed, and yet still hungry for more information. They are looking for objectivity, accuracy, detail. It is reasonable to assume the trend extends to businesses as customers. Businesses are made of people, after all! As sales strategies are trying to adapt to the new educated buyer , a major marketing trend arises:3 content marketing. People are undoubtedly looking for information, and companies should facilitate these changes. Just as years back customers were entering the front door, prospect customers are now visiting online. The purpose is the same – obtain information to make a buying decision. In fact, clients may not contact your firm until well into the sales cycle, serving themselves with available information in the early stages, using digital channels . On average, customers progress more than4 half of the way through the purchase decision-making process before engaging a sales representative . On B2B level, 82% of senior executives says content is a significant driver of5 their buying decision . Not providing the information they are looking for is just like inviting them out6 and then asking them to leave. It is arguable which form is the most appropriate to deliver business information. Taking a look at the numbers, content marketing statistics rank white papers as one of the most used content marketing tactic , as well as one of the most effective . Further, and maybe most relevant, clients rate white7 8 papers as the second most influential content asset, after product documentation . Many world9 marketing leaders agree that customers simply love white papers , are you giving them what they10 want? Source: 1 Source: Source: Source: 4 Source: Source: Source: 7 Source: Source: 9 Source: 7
  9. 9. Goodman Lantern Limited (UK) Advantages of White Papers for B2B Companies 2. Retaining customers Content marketing is perceived as an excellent tool to widen the sales funnel. But it has the potential to be much more than that. Content marketing, through all its forms, including white papers as highly effective means, has a major contribution to client retention, by building trust, increasing recognition and reputation, enhancing client experience or simply creating buzz. It is an ongoing process of building and consolidating an image .11 One of the most common after-sales problems is value fatigue, when customers tend to get used to high level of performance and take it for granted. Content marketing and especially white papers outline what you have to offer beyond your product or service: expertise, knowledge, innovation, commitment . Wow your customers by going beyond their expectations and showing interest in their12 problems even after the sale is closed. Well targeted content can turn existing customers into ambassadors , which in turn could contribute to referral sales through reviews, endorsements and13 shared content. 3. Educating staff Undoubtedly, employees are the most valuable resource of a company and yet they still have an extraordinary untapped potential. Recent studies show that regular employees have significantly more credibility in the eyes of customers than executives (50% v. 38%) .14 Based on this trend, companies should have a lot to gain from empowering their employees to speak out for them in the social media realm, as brand ambassadors. Access to interesting, accurate, engaging content gives them what they need to generate the ever needed buzz around the brand. Secondly, (original) content created by the company can contribute to staff training, by keeping them up-to-date with latest trends, industry overviews, innovative ideas, market trends and so on. Sales people are most effective at selling products they are most comfortable with, so they need relevant content to be always informed about how their product or the market is doing .15 In a third way, publishing well-written papers can add to your employees' credibility, as this type of marketing-oriented content can be further referenced and is easily apprehended by prospects and customers while still providing the useful information they are looking for. 4. Introducing new service or products Publishing comprehensive background research can help a company successfully present and justify a new product or service. White papers are one of the most practical ways to identify and analyze business problems and solutions, and also one of the most influential . Showing people what16 exact problem the new product solves, how others have tried to overcome it, and how the company Source: Source: Source: 13 Source: Source: 15 Source: 8
  10. 10. Goodman Lantern Limited (UK) Advantages of White Papers for B2B Companies has finally responded to the need, will most likely engage prospects and generate leads right from the start. 5. Getting into meetings with clients For years, experts all around the world, from the US to New Zealand seem to agree that17 18 innovation and anticipation are key factors in managing leads and customer services: “firms are required not only to improve, but to innovate products and services and anticipate customer needs on a continuous basis, to demonstrate their ability to think for the customer, and to conceive and implement new ways to serve them better”. A great white paper, prepared with a customer-oriented mindset can be a great starting point to put the company's expertise, knowledge and most of all, interest and openness back on the client's lips. However, first, a shift in perspective seems to be needed, as in the present, B2B content is still sales-oriented, focusing mainly on industry trends, profiles of decision makers, company characteristics and buying cycles . Specifically, to generate genuine competitive advantage, content19 must shift from industry news to a client-oriented perspective, to “here's how you can use these trends to grow own business – and how our company can help”. This type of content can easily lead to meetings and discussions with prospective or existing clients, that can generate new leads, partnerships, directions in development or valuable market insight for both parties.
 Source: Source: 244115996_Competitive_advantage_through_anticipation_innovation_and_relationships/links/54045da80cf2bba34c1c77dc.pdf Source: 9
  11. 11. Goodman Lantern Limited (UK) Advantages of White Papers for B2B Companies 4. Beneficial for thought leadership Thought leadership, while hard to establish, can be a crucial way of business communication. A white paper on a revolutionary concept, prospective trend or cutting-edge topic, can not only demonstrate forward thinking and innovation to customers, but can be an efficient tool to transmit a positive and open attitude to staff and business partners. Building thought leadership is undoubtedly the most arduous process in a company's image strategy, but it can also be the most rewarding. It can take months or years of dedicated continuous work to build traffic, ranking, followers, but once on the right track, it will boom with results .20 Business-wise, thought innovation is actually the most efficient with the early adopters of rising trends, and not always with the ones who start the trends. While only a small percent (2.5% according to Prof. Everett Rogers diffusion of innovation ) of people are actual innovators,21 willing to take risks and possibly fail , the early adopters that base their decisions and ideas on innovators experience quickly enough, benefit of getting on top of new trends with less risks .22 Careful, up-to-date comprehensive analysis of new trends and leadership ideas can keep a business in the small circle of the ones who profit the most out of industry shifts. 
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  12. 12. Goodman Lantern Limited (UK) Advantages of White Papers for B2B Companies 5. Competitors and white papers The typical B2B sales process was shaken when buyers decided to self-educate, taking control of the selling process and demanding more readily-available information . They decide what content is23 relevant and choose when to reach out for more information. If a customer finds the information they need on a website, they will more than likely read and keep it as a referral, or look for additional information in the same source. A level of trust and comfort develops and the client is more likely to contact the company . However, as stated earlier, plain24 content is not enough to establish a thought leader. It needs to be outstanding. If a company's content is just as good as competition's, it's no good. It's a content war. Meaningful, high-impact, customer-focused content is a major competitive advantage for companies on the B2B market . 
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  13. 13. Goodman Lantern Limited (UK) Advantages of White Papers for B2B Companies 6. In combination with social media An overwhelming majority, 94%, of B2B marketers used LinkedIn to distribute content in 2014, but Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Google+ all ranked over 60% in the chart . Moreover, content26 marketing is expected to grow synergistic with social media and mobile marketing .27 Distribution is a critical element in any content marketing initiative . Social media channels and other28 online tools have the outstanding feature of allowing incredibly targeted actions. There are interest groups, forums, expert matters blogs, online communities niche websites, established influencers with follower pools, and so on. All these groups of people got together looking for answers to the same questions. All of them could be prospective clients or stakeholders. They are only waiting for the right information to show up.
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  14. 14. Goodman Lantern Limited (UK) Advantages of White Papers for B2B Companies 13 At Goodman Lantern we deliver white papers, market research reports, eBooks and more… Using innovative technology and distributed teams, we provide Strategy Consultants and Decision Makers with credible data reducing costs by 66% and increasing speed of project delivery by 5x. Our Team