White papers are not just a highly credible source of expert advice from your thought leaders; it provides a launching pad for a myriad of other communiqués: blog posts, podcasts, conference presentations, press releases, and e-mails.
Original content is still king, especially in the business services industry. According to a study conducted by BrightEdge, organic search drives 51 percent (51%) of all visitors to B2B and B2C websites, outpacing all other search channels, including paid search (10%) and social (5%). This divide was even more pronounced among business services, where a whopping 73 percent (73%) of all traffic was organically driven and the least amount of traffic from display, email, and referred combined contributed less than 20 percent (20%) of its traffic.
Clients seeking business services are primarily concerned with credibility and professionalism. White papers deliver both, while providing your company the opportunity to communicate directly with your target market.
Contrary to the staid scientific papers of yore, white papers can be about any topic that informs your readership. Help them to understand how your organization solves problems. Describe the environment in which you provide services. Summarize and simplify so that your potential clients might make better decisions.
Provide value and build your brand as a trusted advisor. Moreover, create content that can be sliced, diced and cultivated over a wide spectrum of communications. Start with a small group of 4 – 6 decision makers in the company who can provide the ‘inside scoop’ on your industry. Ask them to discuss the problems that their clients face, the effects of that problem, and solutions they provided, along with the pros and cons of various approaches.
Evidence of everyday problem solving, along with its granularity, lends credence; open and useful communications about the process engenders trust. Record and transcribe it. Podcasts would be perfect. Even if this meeting only takes place once in a month, it is fertile ground for content.
As the discussion develops, ideas and trends will arise that can be couched in a white paper. In the meantime, these periodic sessions have produced blog posts, fodder for a newsletter, conference material, and, if you’re really lucky, some buzz. You are virtually mining information that you, as an insider, take for granted every day. Use it.
Clients want to work with business services companies that respect them as partners in a quest for success. Your company’s willingness to inform them and to display your interest in developing solutions for their specific problems are the key to building trust.
As evidenced by this latest study, B2B commerce does not appear to be overly swayed by social marketing or slick e-mail campaigns but rather by the basic value proposition of a provider. White papers and their offshoots provide proof that your company is not only actively solving customers’ problems but that you are in a position to help them. The Old World term was ‘gravitas’ and it appears to still enjoy a front row seat.