Well-intentioned blogs and pundits often urge marketers to create great content, but don’t always offer actionable steps for doing so. This post provides best practice tips for developing and refining the two workhorses of your B2B content marketing—white papers and case studies.
A white paper is a 6- to 12-page technical or business-benefits document aimed higher-level decision makers. White papers typically acknowledge one or more customer-related challenges and propose steps or solutions for overcoming them.
Though readers know white papers are sponsored media, they expect an unbiased, genuinely informative presentation. In fact, the quickest way to torpedo your credibility is to load the paper up with company-centric marketing blather that does little to explore and expand upon the title’s promised subject.
Your white papers will perform best if you:
- Choose a relevant topic. Narrow your lens. Present a real problem/solution scenario that resonates deeply with your ideal customers.
- Labor over the title. White-paper guru Michael Stelzner recommends the Headline-Colon-Subhead format. Short titles, active-verb using numbers that promise a benefit pull best: Contain Marketing Costs: 7 Key Benefits of Creative Services Outsourcing.
- Structure content for skimmers. Busy execs scan for information. After outlining, build content in short, inviting blocks topped by tight, punchy subheads. Feature background, market drivers and elements of the “ideal” solution—then segue to an objective presentation describing yours.
(Learn more in Stelzner’s free 20-page white paper primer.)
Like white papers, case studies should present the facts in an unbiased, non-persuasive manner. Recommended length is 2-4 pages, including 1-2 small supportive graphics. Tell your story and let readers decide its merits, structuring the content something like this:
- Challenge. Briefly describe your client’s company and the problem that led them to you.
- Solution. Tell why they selected you, other options they may have considered, and an overview of their chosen solution.
- Approach. Discuss the considerations, methods, obstacles, and outcomes of your recommendations. This is your opportunity to truly differentiate your approach.
- Results. How did your solution solve the problem? Use real numbers. Highlight concrete outcomes. Point up specific client advantages gained. And always ask for a quote or testimonial.
B2B Content Marketing can win customers and converts. The most effective white papers and case studies avoid the hard sell and let the facts of your success speak for themselves.
Last modified: July 17, 2017