Editor's note: This blog post was originally written in 2012 and has since been updated for accuracy and relevance.
Content marketing is an effective way for contract manufacturers to establish themselves as industry leaders, build trust with potential customers, and generate leads.
By creating informative and engaging content that resonates with their target audience, contract manufacturers can differentiate themselves from their competitors and position themselves for long-term success.
Around 60% of B2B marketers have used white papers in the last 12 months and 43% say they’ve produced the best results in the last 12 months, beaten only by in-person and online events and research reports.
There are several benefits of creating white papers as part of your content marketing strategy, which we’ve covered below.
1. White papers generate leads
As a contract manufacturer, you need to generate leads to grow your business and stay competitive in your industry. Generating leads is the only way to increase sales, expand your customer base, and plan for future growth. It’s an essential part of the sales process that allows you to identify potential customers and nurture them towards a sale. Without leads, you’d have a limited pool of potential customers to draw from, which could limit your sales growth and competitiveness.
By offering a white paper in exchange for contact information, you can capture leads and build your email list. This provides you with the opportunity to follow up with these leads and nurture them over time, hopefully turning them into customers. For example, if your sales team knows a prospect has downloaded your white paper, it gives them a great basis on which to start a new conversation.
White papers tend to have a high conversion rate because they contain both educational content in the form of a long article and direct marketing material in the form of a corporate brochure. The combination of learning followed by persuasion makes them one of the most powerful marketing tools available.
In addition, white papers are often shared and referenced by other businesses and publications, which can help to increase your exposure and generate more leads. And when original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) find value in the white paper, they may share it with their own networks, providing you with even more opportunities to capture leads.
2. White papers spread expertise and build thought leadership
White papers are an effective way for contract manufacturers to establish their authority and share their expertise with potential customers. By producing a high-quality white paper, contract manufacturers can demonstrate their knowledge and experience in their industry, which can help to build trust and credibility with potential customers.
By offering valuable insights and analysis on a particular topic, white papers can position you as a trusted advisor and thought leader. This can help to differentiate you from competitors and make you more appealing to potential customers.
When potential customers view your contract manufacturing brand as an expert in the field, they are more likely to engage with your brand and consider you for their manufacturing needs. This can lead to increased sales, as well as stronger customer loyalty and advocacy.
3. White papers help you build a mailing list
Usually, building a mailing list can be a hard task. Convincing someone to sign up to your newsletter simply to receive updates doesn’t get many takers. But if you give away a free gift in exchange for a sign-up that can help you get many more subscribers. So if you have a white paper, you can use it as a free gift which will be made available to people after signing up to your newsletter.
If you want to get many people to subscribe by using this method, you need to make sure that the subject of your white paper is relevant to your blog and contains something that interests your audience. You also need to make sure it’s unique and contains quality information as people will only want to read it if they think they will learn something special from it.
Building a mailing list is important for several reasons. First, it allows you to stay in touch with potential customers and nurture them over time. By regularly sending targeted, relevant content to their mailing list, you can build relationships with potential customers and keep their brand top of mind.
Second, a mailing list provides you with a direct line of communication to potential customers. Rather than relying solely on social media or search engine rankings to reach potential customers, you can use your mailing list to communicate directly with your target audience. This can be especially useful when promoting new products or services, or when announcing special offers or promotions.
Finally, building a mailing list can help you to segment your audience and personalise your marketing efforts. By collecting information such as job title, industry, and company size, you can tailor your messaging to specific segments of your audience. This can help to increase the relevance and effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
4. White papers allow you to accommodate original research
We often speak about the importance of original research, particularly as it pertains to B2B buyers and your industry as a whole. Original research captures attention, is highly shareable, and can provide tremendous value to your audience, helping them solve a problem, answer a question, understand complex issues, or make an informed decision.
A white paper gives you an opportunity to present that original research with visual elements, supportive discussions and helpful strategies that address your prospects' pain points.
The internet is now stuffed with mediocre and duplicated content, making it harder to be heard and cut through that noise. Publishing your own original research, thoughts and ideas in a carefully and considered format like a white paper will elevate your brand and help you gain a competitive edge as an authority in the subject.
It also puts you in a greater position to generate backlinks from other sources who want to use your findings to support their own discussions.
How to create a white paper
Here are some general steps to consider when writing a white paper for your contract manufacturing company:
- Identify your target audience: Before you start writing, identify the specific audience you want to target with your white paper. Consider the industries you serve, the types of products you manufacture, and the problems your customers typically face. Your buyer personas are integral to your content marketing strategy and should guide everything you do.
- Choose a relevant topic: Select a topic that is relevant to your target audience and related to your area of expertise. Your topic should address a specific problem or challenge your audience faces and provide actionable insights or solutions.
- Conduct research: Conduct research to support your white paper's arguments and recommendations. This can include industry reports, case studies, customer feedback, and other relevant sources.
- Develop an outline: Create an outline for your white paper that includes an introduction, main sections, and conclusion. Your outline should also include supporting data and statistics to back up your arguments.
- Write the content: Write the content of your white paper, using a clear and concise writing style in line with your brand’s tone of voice. Be sure to provide concrete examples and actionable insights that your audience can use to address the problem or challenge you're addressing.
- Edit and proofread: Edit and proofread your white paper carefully, checking for spelling and grammar errors, clarity, and accuracy. Make sure your white paper is free of jargon and is easily understandable to your target audience.
- Design and format: Design your white paper to be visually appealing and easy to read. Use graphics, charts, and images to support your content and break up long blocks of text. Consider working with a designer to create a professional-looking layout.
- Promote and distribute: Promote your white paper through your website, social media channels, email campaigns, and other relevant marketing channels. Make sure your white paper is easily downloadable and accessible to your target audience.
Writing a white paper for your contract manufacturing company requires careful planning, research, and execution. By following these steps, you can create a valuable resource that positions your company as a thought leader and attracts potential customers.
White papers remain a valuable asset for contract manufacturers investing in a content marketing strategy. White papers help generate leads for your contract manufacturing business, position you as a thought leader in your field, build a mailing list so you can nurture prospects, and allow you to accommodate powerful original research that will help you to stand out in a crowded market. When used alongside other content formats, like infographics, blog posts, videos and webinars, you can build a content library that helps you attract and convert customers and grow your business.