Should blogs replace white papers? We think not because they serve two different purposes. And, when done well, would have very different structures and content.
Blogs are good for up-to-date breaking news, “how-to” advice and opinions. They’re also good at promoting a discussion among a group of prospects, creating a “buzz” that keeps the sales decision in front of your customer. But they have a temporary feel to them, and the thoughts in them aren’t always presented in an organized manner for those trying to pick out the essential points. A lot of business people still aren’t taking them seriously (particularly in some industries like financial services where opinions are a bit suspect).
In fact, a good use for a blog is to start a discussion, then refer the reader to a more objective white paper on the subject.
White papers, on the other hand, contain solid research and valuable info, not just opinions. When well done, they are persuasive essays, critical for selling something that’s complex and/or involves a larger investment. Their message is backed up by quantitative/qualitative data with credible references in the footnotes, designed to appeal to a senior decision-maker. They’re also usually professionally designed pieces with images and charts, whether printed or posted online as PDFs.
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White papers can have many uses, once produced:
- Valuable, free industry or market info to website/newsletter visitors
- Trade show/event hand out
- Provide technical detail and research during a sales call (then leave behind).
- Translated into the language of your prospect
- Insert in sales kit or press kits
- Made into an “instant” article for a Trade Publication or Press Release
- Background handout for a PowerPoint presentation or speech
Definitely get a professional writer to work on your white paper. While many people can write decently, this is a business and marketing piece that will reflect on your company and can build your credibility. It should be written concisely and in a way that’s compelling to your audience – something that an “insider” is too close or too biased to do.
Blogs are actually better when written by an expert within your company. They come across as more authentic in their real voice. However, for those who are extremely busy or not natural writers, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting help writing blog posts. We often encourage clients to give us a brain-dump on a topic so we can write it up for them. At the very least have someone else proof read it for you.