Thorough research is the backbone of a compelling white paper. It adds credibility to your content and allows you to provide well-informed insights and recommendations.
This is because at least half of the content of your white paper is focused on the problem your prospect currently has, the one they are desperate to solve.
If your prospect doesn’t believe that you fully understand the magnitude of their problem, the steps they have already taken to solve it and the requirements that must be part of any workable solution, why should they trust you to help them?
Here’s how we approach researching a white paper.
Starting with the sales team
Our team is often hired by top executives or leaders in the marketing department to create new white papers. But these are not generally the people I go to first for good information. That data is usually found in the sales department.
The company’s top sales executives are in contact with both existing customers and new prospects. Their job is to find out where the pain is and what prospects have already tried to do to solve it. They know what frustrates prospects about competition solutions and what they want to see in a better solution.
This information is vital to the creation of a good white paper, but it can get even better if the sales team introduces us to satisfied customers. They know both how well the company’s offering is working and why they like it better than other solutions they have tried.
Going deeper to understand why
Of course, it’s much harder to know exactly why something is happening so we perform external research, looking for reputable sources such as industry reports, academic journals, and case studies. These sources will provide accurate and up-to-date information to support the claims made by the sales department and your satisfied customers.
When conducting research, it is important to critically evaluate the information and cross-reference multiple sources. This will help you avoid biases and ensure that your white paper presents a well-rounded and balanced perspective. Remember to cite your sources properly to give credit to the original authors and maintain ethical standards.
The more believable your white paper is (i.e. the less like a brochure it is) the more trust you will build with new prospects.
But in the second half of the white paper, we present our own findings. Analyze your own data and customer feedback to uncover trends, patterns, and success stories. This will not only strengthen your arguments but also demonstrate your expertise and understanding of the industry.
If you’ve done a good job of supporting your conclusions in the first half of your paper, you will have earned the right to share your own findings and expect prospects to have more faith in the data you present.
For more information about writing great white papers, check out our Leader’s Guide to white papers.