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  • Writer's pictureChris Ward

Think your B2B business is too small for a whitepaper? Think again!

Updated: Feb 24

A whitepaper can help any B2B business, regardless of its size, develop a reputation as a thought leader, build credibility and trust with members of its target audience, and generate leads.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what a whitepaper can do for a small B2B business and how it can be a player without the need for a deep marketing department or creatives on staff.

Employees of a small B2B business writing and publishing their first whitepaper.

First, what is a whitepaper?

A whitepaper is a type of long-form content, typically 2,500 words or more. Its purpose is to educate and inform readers about a particular topic and position a business as an authority in its field. In contrast to a blog, a whitepaper is generally more formal and provides a more in-depth examination of a subject. Typically, a whitepaper will include research, case studies, and/or other evidence that supports the whitepaper’s topic.

To be useful, a whitepaper must deal with issues that matter to a company’s customers and prospects. In most cases, these issues will be connected to the company’s products or services and the problems they can solve.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that a whitepaper should directly promote the company’s products and services. Absolutely not! As I mentioned in my last post, the value of content marketing in general, and a whitepaper in particular, stems from an unwavering belief in 'giver’s gain.' In return for providing (prospective) customers with valuable information, with no expectation of a quick reward, some will be inclined to give what the marketer really wants… their attention, interest and, ultimately, their business!

How will a smaller business benefit?

So, what will a whitepaper do for a smaller B2B business? Not surprisingly, most of the benefits are the same as those enjoyed by much larger firms. They have to do with:

  • establishing thought leadership,

  • educating readers, and

  • generating leads.

These are important benefits. However, for the smaller business, there is one more that can increase its competitiveness. This has to do with enabling the business to punch above its weight by doing something that many of its larger competitors are doing – publishing a whitepaper.

Demonstrating a firm grasp of an industry ­– its problems and its opportunities – is a very good way of establishing credibility and positioning the business as a go-to resource for information and advice. Over time, the information contained in a company’s whitepapers and other types of marketing content, offered with no expectation of an immediate reward, will earn the trust of customers and prospects and lead to business.

Okay, how does this work for a smaller business with limited resources?

So, let’s get back to the purpose of this blog post... making the case for a whitepaper even when a company does not have a big marketing department or skilled creatives on staff. There are workarounds:

  1. Use freelancers or small, independent agencies: Writers and designers who are on their own or have formed a small agency can be a great option for smaller B2B businesses that don't have these skills on staff or the wherewithal to retain a large agency. Some actually specialize in whitepapers and other types of long-form content. Interestingly, it’s not unusual to find much larger businesses using skilled freelancers or small agencies and saving money in the process.

  2. Join forces with a complementary business: Most industries are made up of businesses with different functions and specialties. Joining forces with a non-competitive participant can be a powerful way of broadening your expertise and reducing out-of-pocket costs.

  3. Repurpose content: Many smaller B2B businesses publish a newsletter and/or have a blog. These can be sources of content for a whitepaper. Looking ahead, it makes sense to schedule newsletter articles or blog posts that can be repurposed for a whitepaper.

  4. Do the research: While a smaller B2B business will likely have specific subject matter expertise that can be incorporated into a whitepaper, additional research will often be required. With some planning, and maybe a little training, you might be able to use staff members to conduct the research and analyze the information collected. Just allow a little more time and be patient with those who are doing the work. This will likely be a new frontier for most of them.

Bottom line, virtually any B2B business, regardless of size, can have a whitepaper. When used in combination with other types of marketing content and within a thoughtful content marketing strategy, a whitepaper can help a smaller business build awareness, become a thought leader, generate leads... and punch above its weight!

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