But white papers also can be useful in a later stage of a sales cycle, when an individual customer or a buying committee is identifying the final purchase criteria and narrowing the list of products and vendors that will receive further consideration.
At this stage, a white paper can “set the agenda” for a purchase decision. How? By convincing the reader that aspects where your product is better than its competition are the most important decision factors to consider.
For example, a statement of direction white paper communicates the importance of future product directions as a key purchasing factor.
A white paper that presents a product selection guide also can set the purchasing agenda in a prospect’s mind. Decision tools such as selection trees, product-comparison checklists, and payback worksheets in the white paper can help readers identify the specific parameters for choosing a particular product or vendor.
When customers reach the decision point, the buyers may need a comprehensive understanding of your product’s underlying technologies, distinct applications, and implementation or migration strategies -- all are ideal topics for white papers.
A white paper also can be an advocacy piece that presents your company’s viewpoint on industry standards and trends as a subtle way of diminishing a competitor’s offerings or messages.
When written to help customers make a valid purchase decision (even if they don’t choose your product or service in the end), a white paper can build the prospect’s confidence and trust in your company.
About the Author: Janice King is author of the book Copywriting That Sells High Tech and an award-winning freelance technical copywriter. Learn more about Janice’s technical copywriting services at www.writespark.com.
This post originally appeared, in a slightly modified form, on the Writing White Papers blog.