Do I need a White Paper?
Do I need a White Paper to market my product? How can I tell?
There are three main situations that often call for a white paper. If your product falls into one of these three categories, a white paper might be right for you.
1. The Product is Complicated
Complicated products is the situation most often encountered in white papers. This is a workhorse solution for business to business (B2B) products requiring engineering input before purchase. Engineers drive the need for white papers because they make data-driven purchase decisions. Whether an engineer is the decision-maker, or a decision-influencer, the information must be served in a manner that allows the engineer to digest what you have to offer and come to the conclusion to purchase your product without sales pitches.
2. The Product is Novel
When a completely new kind of product is released, a white paper may be called for. This is especially true when the new product is something novel–something peerless, where consumers have no benchmark. A good example is the Segway scooter. A quick Google search allows one to quickly locate a white paper on the Segway’s low emissions. This scooter is still without peer, despite being introduced over a decade ago, and white papers that show how it solves a problem in a unique way makes for a great marketing tool.
3. The product is expensive
When a C-level executive is forced to make a decision requiring a large allocation of funds, that executive starts thinking like an engineer regardless of that person’s actual education. By that, I mean any large capital expense must be vetted before cutting a check. There must be compelling evidence that the product under consideration is a more cost-effective solution than the competition. That doesn’t necessarily mean the lowest price. Consider a used car purchase. People check the Kelley Blue Book value, consider the condition, the age, availability and price of spare parts, and cost of insurance, all in addition to the price of the car. All these factors contribute to the final decision. Major capital expenses in business are no different. Executives must be sure the assets being spent on the item are the best use for the money.
If your product fits into one of these three categories, a white paper might be an important component to the marketing plan.