How much time do people spend with your marketing materials? For years we’ve been telling you to make your marketing content shorter. After all, the human attention span is eight seconds. That’s one second shorter than your average goldfish.
But what if you could get your customers to spend 30 minutes with you, even share your materials with their colleagues over lunch?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, the best way to reach this level of engagement is by adding white papers to your communication strategy. For white papers to have value to your audience, they need to have some real meat on them. Coming in at five to 50 pages, they should include research from multiple, credible sources and are presented in an appealing format, with illustrations and graphics.
White papers recast your company from another business trying to get customers’ attention into a trusted expert who knows that educated consumers are better consumers. In a white paper, you aren’t trying to sell anything directly, you’re trying to teach people for free, or at least it seems that way. The real beauty of a white paper is that while it offers an authoritative, in-depth report, it does so by presenting a problem and a solution. Conveniently, your company offers that solution.
Meaningful white papers do require a significant time investment, but they typically stay relevant for up to two years with minimal refreshing, in contrast to blog entries, which may only be relevant for a few months. Hubspot, a leading provider of digital-marketing tools, recommends using white papers to drive the rest of your content marketing, refashioning your more substantial material across multiple platforms.
White papers serve as strong lead-gen opportunities by asking readers to submit an email address to download the content. They are particularly well suited for LinkedIn distribution where professionals are seeking high-quality information. Your customers are likely to do your marketing work for you, as they share your content with their contacts to build their own professional brand.
An indirect benefit of adding white papers to your content-marketing strategy is that they serve as a low-risk, cost-effective method of internal staff training. According to marketing expert Neil Patel, one of the best ways to craft a white paper is to interview an industry expert. Ask your employees to interview and shadow a teammate already well versed in a skill, learning new techniques over the course of a few weeks of research and writing.
Although white papers are educational in nature and do not explicitly offer a sales pitch, they do deepen relationships with prospects as your company establishes itself as an industry expert. By sharing your knowledge and experience, you’ll create an educated consumer who will confidently choose to do business with the expert – you.
Leslie Graff, Marketing Strategist at RedRover Sales & Marketing, can be reached at www.redrovercompany.com.