Sample Outline for a Lead Generation White Paper

Dollar for dollar, white papers continue to be some of the most effective offers for most high-technology marketers. Prospects are usually more likely to download or otherwise register for a white paper vs. a Webinar, free trial, etc. because 1) the time commitment is minimal, and 2) white papers are perceived (not always justifiably) as information of value rather than sales collateral.

If you market CRM software, for example, and a prospective customer has a need for that software, that prospect is more likely to download a white paper on “how to improve customer service” than he/she is to request a brochure on your product. That’s because prospects are disinclined to express an interest in a particular product (for fear of being sold to), but are much more willing to request free information on how to solve a particular issue or problem they’re facing.

This demands, however, that the content of your white paper be oriented towards solving a problem and not convincing the reader why your product is the best thing since sliced bread. White papers that are little more than brochures in sheep’s clothing or do no more than describe your product in technical detail will not be successful as lead generation offers because they presume an explicit interest in your product.

If you offer prospects a white paper on how to solve the very business problem your product solves, however, you’ll be generating leads for your product by attracting prospects looking to solve that problem, without actually promoting your product explicitly.

Based on papers that have proven highly successful for our clients, here’s a typical outline for an effective, lead generation-oriented white paper:

1. Current industry problems/trends (highlighting, naturally, the “pain” that your product or service solves)
2. Technology considerations/options (what’s old, what’s new, the “new” being your product or service)
3. How the new technology or service or business model works (including a technical description, if applicable)
4. Benefits/Applications/ROI (including case studies, if possible)
5. How to choose a solution/vendor
6. Summary

Excerpted from the white paper: “How to Choose Your Carrot: Effective Lead Generation Offers for High-Technology Marketers.” To download a free copy, click here.

One thought on “Sample Outline for a Lead Generation White Paper

  1. David Crankshaw

    Hi Howard – Nice post on the flow of a typical white paper.

    Ardath Albee wrote a piece last Fall that summarizes some survey data on the continued value that buyers place on white papers. The survey supports your points here: Buyers want solid technical descriptions and case studies. They don’t want product descriptions.

    Here’s the link to Ardath’s post:

    Nice job!



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