One of the best ways of recording an organization’s achievements is through educational papers and documentation. As a marketer, you can leverage this by publishing your company’s most recent breakthroughs as engineering white papers on your website or other media sites to build up your brand reputation. The white paper format is among the best options for showcasing developments and acts as a great lead magnet to grow and nurture your mailing list.
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What is a White paper?
A white paper is an authoritative, in-depth, and persuasive report on a specific topic that presents a problem then provides a solution. This 3000+ word report details the process of resolving an industry challenge using your organization’s technology or product.
White papers are created to recommend certain products or technologies. They aim to help hasten the customers’ buying decision process (particularly that of the decision-makers themselves). An engineering white paper can be the industrial marketer’s perfect tool. Use it to endorse your company with tangible and well-documented examples of your services/products solving clients’ problems.
White papers, however, should not be used as product pitches or sales promotions. They should be written in a neutral manner that informs and educates. Overselling your product or service through the report can be off-putting, especially for your engineering audience. An effectively-written white paper does the marketing work for you by encouraging readers to acknowledge the effectiveness of the technology and/or the ingenuity of the service described. In fact, studies show that white papers are one of the most effective content for the early and middle stages of the buyer’s journey as seen in the image below.
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How to present your engineering white paper
Engineering white papers do not only contain texts and visuals. They also have supplementary information like footnotes, copyright info, figures, as well as logos. As a writer, you need to strike the right balance between completeness and readability. That means, choosing a clean layout, right color scheme, readable font size, and tidy page order.
When looking for template design ideas for your engineering white paper, below are some of the things that you need to look at:
- Have a look at what’s trending. If you are starting out, it is best to take a look at what others are putting out successfully. This means looking at fonts and color schemes that attract the most audience.
- Design for your audience. Make sure that the designs you are creating are aligned to the type of audience that you are trying to attract. It should support your topic and the vibe of your white paper as a whole. For example, you can take into account color psychology to help achieve the look you are after.
- Make your white papers visually rich. Explain your points and key takeaways to your target audience using infographics, diagrams, images, graphics, and statistics charts. These graphics and images help your white paper be more visually appealing and ultimately increase ROI.
A white paper doesn’t have a standard structure that writers follow. This means that it is up to the writer on how they present their ideas. Most engineering white papers, however, usually have the following headings or structures:
– Table of contents
– Outline of problem
– Results and discussions
– Conclusion and perspectives
– List of references
– Appendices (if needed)
How can an engineering white paper be used?
Engineering white papers are powerful marketing tools that can be employed in various ways. Below are some examples of how to use them:
- – As a lead magnet. White papers are amazing lead magnets. They are great resources for your potential clients and your sales team alike. A properly-crafted engineering white paper can help engineers make decisions and play an important role in the customer buying cycle.
- – As a marketing tool during trade shows. Use your white papers during trade shows to further increase your reputation and teach people about your company. Print out interesting excerpts from your white paper and offer them as hand-outs. You can gain interested readers by doing so.
- – A tool to increase your thought leadership. White papers are authoritative reports. Consistently publishing high-quality white papers will make people identify you as a thought leader to whom they should turn for advice.
- – Build your email list. White papers are often distributed through emails, and publishing valuable white papers will help you get more email subscribers. Your email list is a fertile field of potential buyers when engaged and converted properly.
- – Helps with content marketing. White papers provide value-adding information. They can help increase your online ranking and, in turn, help generate more traffic to your website.
Key steps to writing a white paper
Writing an engineering white paper is not just about sitting down, opening your computer, researching, and writing. There is a creative and technical aspect that you also need to do in order to develop an effective white paper. Below are some key steps that you can follow:
1. Get the buy-in from senior shareholders and experts for the duration of the project. The first step to any successful white paper is getting the approval and support of the management. This does not mean top management alone, but also includes the people who will be funding your research (if needed) as well as the experts that you will be interviewing and involved in the project.
2. Come up with a topic. Determining your topic should be on top of your must-do before writing a white paper otherwise it will only waste your time and efforts. Many people neglect it at first and then end up vaguely rambling from one topic to the next. You can come up with the topic by asking your clients, getting suggestions from staff and experts, SEO research, and many more.
3. Conduct research. Once you have determined your topic you can now proceed with your research. You can include your organization’s findings based on actual experiments or studies. Don’t forget to include all your references for your citations and a list of sources.
4. Perform interviews. Conducting interviews can be done once you have completed the research. This will ensure that you have a proper grasp of the topic and will be able to ask relevant questions.
5. Prepare the outline. As soon as you have the necessary information at hand, you can proceed with preparing the outline for your white paper. This will not only save you time for getting approval but will also provide you guidance when completing your white paper. Your outline can include the:
– the challenge
– the overview
– the body
– the conclusion and
– the call-to-action.
6. Write the first draft. Now that you have the outline, you can now start writing your draft. As much as possible avoid being over promotional and just focus on creating value. Remember to cite references and include solid data and statistics from reputable sources. You can even include real-life examples to illustrate the problem that you are providing a solution to.
7. Create an eye-catching template and design. Using illustrations, interesting graphics, and charts will help your white paper pop out and be even more interesting. This will help grab your reader’s attention and increase their interest. Instead of listing stats and data, you can make use of diagrams and graphs to emphasize their importance to the study.
8. Send it for editing and approval. White papers go through different stages of editing and approval. This can be done in-house or sent out to professional editors that are hired externally. Whenever you need to edit or revise, give them time to lay the copy aside so that you can look at it from a new perspective.
How to market your engineering white paper
After you have completed and published your white paper, you are now ready to market it. But how can you proceed? Below are some of the things that you can do to promote it:
1. Create an enticing landing page.
A landing page is a standalone web page that is created for your call to action. When you create a landing page for your white paper download, you have to make sure that your page is interesting and should pique the interest of your target audience. Some factors that you need to include are:
– Interesting title
– Striking cover image
– Interesting excerpt about the engineering white paper that you are offering
– Strong and positive testimonials – the more known the person giving the testimonial, the better.
– Social sharing buttons
2. Scheduled pop-ups.
For businesses that have blogs on their websites, you can use your most popular blogs (with high engagement and page visits) to promote your white paper. You can create timed pop-ups on your blog posts and place them strategically on the page. Remember to make sure that the posts are still related to the topic of your white paper.
3. Include it in your newsletter.
If you have monthly or weekly newsletters sent out to your email subscribers, remember to include a white paper download link in your email. Place it strategically where it will get attention. If you can, include fun facts to related articles or blog posts to further emphasize its uses and why it is beneficial to the readers.
4. Guest blog to reputable and related sites.
Work with your connections and do guest posts/ blogs for their website. This is a good way, not only to promote your white paper but for link building too. You can write articles close and related to the topic and then include a link to your white paper landing page.
5. Host a webinar.
Webinars are becoming quite popular these days with people preferring to stay at home and work or learn online. You can host one with influencers talking about a related topic with your white paper. At the end of the session, you can ask the attendees to download the white paper.
6. Use free press release distribution services.
Press release (PR) distribution is the process of seeding out or circulating your press release to members of the press including journalists. This is a great way to put your content in front of a wider audience. You can market your white paper through various free PR distribution services including PR.com, ClickPress.com, and Free-Press-Release.com.
7. Exposure from Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).
If you have featured or mentioned an SME in your white paper, let them know that you did. They are more likely to promote it as it also helps amplify their thought leadership status.
8. Conduct interviews with thought leaders.
Interview your industry thought leaders on the same topic as your white paper and publish it on your website’s blog as a stand-alone post. Then you can add a CTA at the end of the blog post with a link to your white paper landing page.
9. Share your white paper on targeted LinkedIn groups.
If you are a member of various LinkedIn groups, you can also share your downloadable link on various targeted groups with the same niche or industry as you. Remember not to over-promote or promote directly. You can talk about the benefits of the white paper and how it helps the group.
10. Use social media marketing.
You can leverage your social media channels and share your white paper download link. Schedule a tweet or a Facebook post on your channels using scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer at least 2 or 3 times a week.
3 tips on writing an effective engineering white paper
An industrial marketer’s main goal with engineering white papers is to generate interesting content that their audience will read. Below are some effective tips on how to write one:
Find the right topic for your target audience.
Finding the right topic is crucial to ensure that your target audience will read your content. When deciding on a topic, remember that it should be one that you are qualified to write and also something that will interest your audience. Be sure to do your research on what answers engineers in your sector are searching for.
White papers are meant to be authoritative, so you must stick with what you know. Engineers are very picky when it comes to accepting and processing new pieces of information. They can also be very critical about technicalities, so the data you offer must be solid and correct. You can build up content from the people within your organization and base your papers on their expertise. But how can you gather information from the team?
There are a lot of ways to find interesting topics for your engineering white papers. One of the easiest and most economical ways is by asking your in-house experts. This includes your company’s marketing experts, product developers, and subject matter experts (SME).
The problem, however, is that not everyone has the patience or time to write a 3000+ word white paper. Try to get them to at least discuss details. As the industrial marketer, it will be your responsibility to create content from what you gather and publish it on your website and multiple media outlets.
You can start your content planning by gathering initial data for your topics. If you don’t know where to start, simply ask your experts for recommendations on what to review and where to find sources. Another tactic is to research your competitors’ latest marketing materials. You can also try to ask about popular and trusted news resources to get more insight into certain subjects.
Once you have chosen a topic, do your research and collect more information about it. After reading enough to gain a grasp on the subject, schedule interviews with your in-house experts. This will help you clarify questions that you may still have, and point you in the right direction if your interpretation is veering astray. The added information will also help you elaborate more on the topic.
Before starting the interview, however, plan your questions carefully. If you can, write out a draft of the questions that you think will be relevant. This way you won’t forget anything and will avoid wasting time.
Start with a “kick-off” call.
Like all marketing materials, an engineering white paper only has a few seconds to catch a reader’s attention. Do this by providing an executive summary that will pique their curiosity and have the answers that they are looking for.
It is an essential practice to introduce your engineering white paper with a summary of its content. Include an organized list of topics that your readers can easily scan. This will not only interest them but will give them an overview of what will be discussed throughout the paper.
Provide value-adding content.
As mentioned previously, it is important that you avoid overt promotion of your company or your products and services. Your readers will not appreciate excessive references to the company throughout the paper. Remember that your number-one priority should be providing useful and valuable information.
Your company’s expertise within your industry should be showcased primarily through the explanation of how your client’s problem was solved. Your reader should learn something new by reading it. Once you have gained their trust in this way, your reader is more likely to heed your recommendations. In return, you will be their ‘go-to’ expert when they need a similar solution to their problem.
While it is true that creating high-quality engineering white papers can be time-consuming, there’s no question they can help build your brand reputation. If you need help creating a comprehensive engineering white paper for your company, drop us a line!