5 Keys to do White Paper Marketing the Right Way
A white paper in marketing can be a valuable content marketing tool. But many well-intentioned yet misinformed marketers regularly publish white papers (and a slew of other marketing content pieces) that are almost guaranteed NOT to succeed at generating leads.
This article will give marketers valuable, actionable strategies that can result in wildly successful lead generation campaigns.
Note – even though our focus today is on white paper marketing, a lot of the strategies and techniques we will discuss apply to other content marketing tools like video, webinars and e-books. Also, we will focus on a B2B (instead of a B2C) perspective.
When written and promoted correctly, white papers can be an extremely powerful lead generation tool.
White papers can help marketers
- Add new leads to their sales funnels
- Smoothly move them through the funnel
- Build trust, credibility and thought leader status
- “Prime the pump” for future sales and build momentum in the sales process
To be successful, your white paper marketing must capture and keep the attention and interest of your reader, and it must make him want to take the next step in the buying process. Because of a number of serious missteps, many white papers fall short of accomplishing these critical tasks.
Keys To Writing A Winning White Paper
When we're writing our content marketing messages, like white papers, it's easy to focus only on “content” and forget about “marketing”. Some believe that all a white paper has to do is to “educate” the reader. I disagree. Readers don't decide to buy or take the next step in the lead generation “journey” just because you educate them, especially if you only educate them about the features of your product.
A Powerful Way To Impress Your Reader
Educating your readers about your product is important, but when you are telling them only about its features and specs, their response is “So what?” Your reader doesn't care about your product, per se. He cares about what your product can do for him, what painful, nagging problem it will help him solve, what cherished goal it will help him accomplish and so on.
If you want to cut through the B2B marketing clutter, if you want to get and keep his attention, if you want to have the best opportunity possible to convert him from a reader into a buyer, focus your message primarily on him (his problem, his needs, his wants and your solutions for him) not on your product. And by all means, tell him how your product's features benefit him.
Good Copywriting Is Important
Copywriting is the art and science of selling through the written word. It's a must for your content marketing campaign to be successful. Granted, in a white paper, the “selling” needs to be more subtle and understated than in many other copywriting and marketing content pieces. But the sales and persuasion element still needs to be present.
A Point Worth Repeating
I've talked about this in a previous article, but I think it's worth repeating. In your white paper marketing, write like you talk in everyday life. Imagine you are having a cup of coffee with an old friend. Imagine you are a world class sales rep conducting an in-person sales interview. Think how you would talk in those situations, and write your white paper like that.
You don't want to get too casual. You do want to use the language your audience uses. Within reason, write your white paper just like you were speaking the content to the prospect in person. And write it as if you were writing to one person only, not a faceless, generic crowd.
It's a cliché, but true: people buy from those they know, like and trust. They want to do business with people, not with “XYZ Conglomerate”. Learning to write like you talk and writing to “an audience of one” will make readers more inclined to want to buy from you.
More Copywriting Tips
Add bullet points to your white papers. This will make it easier for you to draw attention to key parts of your content; bulleted lists are great places to mention benefits. Use prominent, benefit-laden, curiosity-generating titles.
Avoid long sentences and paragraphs. Think about it: what do you do when you are reading a paragraph that's 30 lines long? Your mind balks at the very idea of having to wade through it, especially if you are already stressed out on a busy work day.
The takeaway: Make your white paper marketing message easy to read. Focus your message on your reader, not on your company or product, even if it's truly remarkable. Talk about not just your product's features, but how they benefit the reader. Following these steps will help you gain a huge advantage over many, maybe all of your competitors.
A Word About White Paper Titles
The B2B marketing world is swamped with content marketing messages. A lot go completely unnoticed by their intended audience. You can write the world's greatest white paper. But, if it never gets read, it's useless as a lead generation tool.
What's one of the most effective ways for you to get your white paper noticed? What's a proven technique for getting the potential reader to request and to open it up, curious to find out what it's about and why he should care?
Here it is: Craft a compelling, “buzz-generating” title. A great title can make prospects flock to your white paper, anxious to find out more. A poor, “lame” title will usually get passed over without a second glance.
You've worked hard to produce your white paper. Give it the greatest chance you can of getting read by giving it a powerful title.
So what are some elements of a powerful title? Many very successful content marketers and copywriters opt for a title that has a strong combination of curiosity and benefits for the reader. Does your title arouse curiosity in the reader's heart and mind? Does it promise him a desirable benefit if he reads it?
A memorable, persuasive title will make your white paper more likely to get read.
How To Promote Your White Paper Marketing To Gain A Large Audience Of New Leads!
If your white paper marketing doesn't get opened, it won't get read. And, it obviously won't do you much good as a lead generation tool.
You have to get it opened! It also has to be found. Even if you have an ultra-high traffic website, if you bury it on a “Resources” page and don't announce it to your potential audience, it won't get found, at least not by very many people.
What can you do to promote your white paper marketing?
- Send an email to your list telling them about it
- Make announcements on your social media channels
- Write a blog post talking about it
- In some cases, it may make sense to offer it through a PPC/SEM campaign
- Put a “widget” on all pages of your website with a brief “teaser” mentioning your white paper; link this to your white paper signup page
How to use a Landing Page to Promote your White Paper
An easy-to-set-up, conversion-optimized landing page can be a great addition to your white paper promotion campaign. Whenever you announce your white paper to your intended audience, you'll need to redirect them to a page where they can request it. A page that “sells” them on giving you their email address and other contact information in return for the valuable resource you're about to give them.
You DO NOT want to send prospects interested in your white paper back to your homepage. The likelihood they will then find your white paper on your site without getting distracted and quitting, is small.
Instead, direct them to a highly customized page that has no distractions to lead them away from the thing you want them to do – give you their email address and other contact information in return for your valuable white paper.
Remember that at this point, you aren't trying to make an immediate product sale, you are “selling” them on your offer of the white paper. The rules of sales, marketing and copywriting apply. Have a brief, powerful, loaded-with-benefits message on your landing page selling them on why they would want to take the time and effort to download and read it.
To gain a more thorough understanding of landing pages and how to harness their power in your business, read this article.
Even in today's crowded B2B content marketing landscape, marketers like you can use white papers as powerful, effective lead generation tools. But, you have to do it right.
To stand out and succeed, you need to use solid copywriting and effective content marketing techniques. And you need to promote your white paper marketing very well.
An easy-to-set-up, conversion-optimized, highly customized landing page can be a valuable asset to any white paper marketing campaign. Lander is pleased to offer you a full suite of landing page templates. They will make a valuable addition to your next white paper or other content marketing campaign.
***Note from Editor - this article was originally published on September 23rd, 2013 It has been updated to keep it relevant today***
Table of Contents
2 Architecture as thematic setting
2.1 Gardencourt as a cultural ideal
2.2 Confusing freedom and restriction
3 Architecture as a means of characterisation
3.1 Mme Merle’s shell theory
3.2 The mask of the house
4 Perception of architecture
4.1 “She had not read him right”
4.2 “You judge only from the outside”
5 Architectural metaphors
5.1 Imaginary houses
5.2 States of mind
6 The architectural principle in The Portrait of a Lady
6.1 Architecture as superordinate image system
6.2 The house of fiction
The title of Henry James’s novel The Portrait of a Lady already stresses the visual aspect of the book. Central narrative functions are constituted by sights and insights. In order to convey his characters’ motivations, James puts their mental processes into terms of perception. In this visualising technique, architecture plays a predominant role both on a literal and a figurative level. Since architecture occurs on different levels of the text and fulfils different functions, it will not be treated as a one-dimensional motif, but rather as a complex image system. Instead of trying to simplify James’s complicated imagery networks, the effort will be made to discuss the different levels on which architecture functions without applying a hierarchy to them. It will be tried to pay as much attention as possible to the narrative function of the architectural images. But the essay will not only give an illustration of the different applications of the architecture complex. It will be asked whether the use of architecture in the novel follows a certain system. Looking at the preface to the novel, one could assume that the significance of architecture is not merely ornamental. Is there such thing as an architectural principle in The Portrait of a Lady ?
2 Architecture as thematic setting
In a very basic sense, architecture functions in the context of setting. As Izzo has pointed out, the number of settings is limited. Although the reader is informed about Isabel’s journeys to exotic countries, the novel unfolds in a limited number of houses and gardens. Unlike in the traditional novel, the function of settings in The Portrait is not to create a realist illusion and to make the narrated world more vivid. Instead, setting takes over functions traditionally ascribed to other narrative categories such as characterization or plot. The following chapter will be concerned with James’s use of architecture in the traditional sense of setting. It will be shown how James uses architectural views to touch central themes of the novel.
2.1 Gardencourt as a cultural ideal
The novel starts on the lawn of Gardencourt, the estate of Isabel Archer’s uncle. An authorial narrator presents a detailed view on the scenery Isabel is about to enter. The opening scene presents an entirely visual image. Since the description is distinctly set apart from the following dialogue, the scene has been often referred to as a tableau. James stresses the visual character of the opening passage by referring to it as a “picture I have attempted to sketch” [III, 2]. The house on which the narrator looks is an essential part of this “particularly English” picture. It is presented as a stereotypical English country mansion:
A long gabled front of red brick, with the complexion of which time and the weather had played all sorts of picturesque tricks, only, however, to improve and refine it, presented itself to the lawn, with its patches of ivy, its clustered chimneys, its windows smothered in creepers. [III, 2]
As a setting, Gardencourt also serves as an illustration of the omni-present ‘international theme’ in Henry James. We are told that the house “had a name and a history” [III, 2]. It is deeply rooted in English, i.e. European tradition, which functions as a positive opposite to the American lack of culture felt by James and his characters. As Bowden points out, Gardencourt stands for the “age and beauty and tradition not found in America.” But although it is essentially English, it has been purchased and taken care of by an American. Therefore, Brosch attributes to Gardencourt the meaning of a “Schnittstelle der Kulturen”. The setting conveys the idea of a positive exchange between American and European culture.
The positive impression is intensified by the point of view the authorial narrator permits the reader to share. The house is presented from the back. James stresses that the entrance front is “in quite another quarter” [III, 3]. In a direct comparison with the description of Osmond’s villa it becomes clear that the main function of a façade is to serve as a sign of social status. At Gardencourt, nobody cares for facades. “Privacy here reigned supreme,” states James and shows the reader to the lawn behind the house where tea is served. But although the scene is set in the open air, the lawn is presented like an enclosed space:
[…] the wide carpet of turf that covered the level hill-top seemed but the extension of a luxurious interior. The great still oaks and beeches flung down a shade as dense as velvet curtains; and the place was furnished, like a room, with cushioned seats, with rich-coloured rugs, with the books and papers that lay upon the grass. [III, 3f.]
The relation between exterior and interior here serves to illustrate an integration of the conflict between nature and culture. Nature has been successfully cultivated and has become just another room to live in. The opposition outside-inside is resolved into a harmonious blending of qualities. As Izzo points out, even the name of the place can be read as a hint to this spatial ambiguity, since its components refer to both open and enclosed space. The domesticated character of nature contributes to a great extent to the peaceful atmosphere of the Gardencourt scenery.
Brosch has pointed out that the place is presented in terms of time passing: “the flood of summer light had begun to ebb, the air had grown mellow” [III, 1]. In a very positive way, Gardencourt is presented as a place in which everything has come to rest. It is a refuge for its inhabitants, even if they are only visitors. Madame Merle as a ‘homeless’ expatriate expresses her affection for Gardencourt and declares that she would have liked to live in it: “’I don’t venture to send a message to the people,’ Madame Merle added; ‘but I should like to give my love to the place’” [IV, 380]. Brosch points out that Gardencourt is nothing less than a cultural ideal. A key image in the description of this cultural ideal is the opposition between outside and inside. On the one hand, the inside-outside opposition serves to illustrate the positively connoted cultural location the Touchetts have established at Gardencourt. On the other hand, this opposition is an essential part of the ‘thematic setting’ Isabel Archer is about to enter.
2.2 Confusing freedom and restriction
The description of Gardencourt functions as a symbolic illustration of more than one of the novel’s themes. As Hoffmann pointedly remarks, the tableaux (Gardencourt and Osmond’s villa) appear in prominent positions of the novel and thus function as “thematische Leitstellen”. On a symbolic level, the opening passage introduces one of the novel’s central problems: the confusion of concepts of freedom and restriction. The open air scene on Gardencourt lawn is presented as if it took place in an enclosed space. This contradiction can be found in Isabel’s character as well. Her “desire for unlimited expansion” [IV, 82] is counterbalanced by a tendency to retreat. When she tells Ralph about her intention to marry, he is shocked by the idea to see her “put into a cage”. Isabel dismisses his idea of her personality by answering: “If I like my cage, that needn’t trouble you” [III, 65]. In spite of having been very fond of her liberty, she is now determined to “choose a corner and cultivate that” [III, 65].
Izzo names an excellent example for Isabel’s tendency to confuse the two terms of the freedom-constraint opposition. In chapter 17, Isabel expresses her personal idea of happiness to her friend Henrietta Stackpole: “A swift carriage, of a dark night, rattling with four horses over roads that one can’t see – that’s my idea of happiness” [III, 235]. According to Izzo, this vision expresses “utmost movement and activity”, but also has a strong passive aspect since movement and activity are not caused by the individual inside the carriage, but determined from outside. Isabel’s ‘defect’, to speak figuratively, is that she desires the unlimited views of open air and the protection of enclosed space at the same time. At the one hand, she is very fond of her liberty, but there is a tendency to retreat from the outside world.
As an opening passage, the description of Gardencourt serves not only as background scenery for Isabel’s first appearance; it also establishes a kind of ‘thematic setting’. The architectural description is interspersed with motifs which anticipate some of the novel’s central problems. But how do James’s ‘thematic settings’ exactly work? Considering the complexity of the semantic fields created by James’s architectural descriptions, it does not appear sufficient to speak of a ‘symbolic level’ and leave it at that. Of course there is a symbolic level, but the term does not answer the question how this symbolic level is evoked.
The realist novel makes extensive use of descriptions in order to create a vivid illusion of reality. Smuda points out that descriptions in the realist novel work through suggestive details presented by an observer-narrator. One could argue about the classification of The Portrait as a realist novel, but certainly James’s descriptions also work through suggestive details which are closely related to themes developed later in the novel. By presenting Gardencourt lawn as a furnished room, the freedom-restriction theme is evoked on a miniature scale. In this sense, Izzo speaks of the “connotative and connotating” nature of settings in The Portrait.
3 Architecture as a means of characterisation
As we have just seen, architecture in The Portrait is used to create ‘thematic settings’. But it also tells something about its inhabitants. Instead of giving explicit characterisations of his figures, James often chooses to present the reader with a symbolic description of architecture, treating the house as an expression of its inhabitant. Architectural descriptions tend to take over functions of characterisation. Hopkins observes that James’s technique consists of “fusing much of what is normally called setting with action and characterization.” In the following chapter, I will show how this fusion is realised in The Portrait of a Lady.
 Cf. Peter Garrett, Scene and Symbol from George Eliot to James Joyce: Studies in Changing Fictional Mode (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press 1969) 83.
 Cf. Donatella Izzo, “The Portrait of A Lady and Modern Narrative”, New Essays on The Portrait of a Lady, Ed. Joel Porte (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990) 33-48, 40.
 Cf. Renate Brosch, Krisen des Sehens. Henry James und die Veränderung der Wahrnehmung im 19. Jahrhundert (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2000) 100; Gerhard Hoffmann, Raum, Situation und erzählte Wirklichkeit (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1978) 481.
 In the following, it will be quoted from the New York Edition, Vol. III and IV: Henry James, The Novels and Tales, 27 Vol, 1908 (Irvine: Reprint Services Corporation Scribner, 1992).
 Edwin T. Bowden, The Themes of Henry James. A System of Observation Through the Visual Arts (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1969) 54.
 Brosch 103.
 Cf. Izzo 44.
 Cf. Brosch 102.
 In this point, I disagree with Brosch who associates the images of fading light and weary brickwork with the passing of the Touchett family. Cf. Brosch 104.
 “Gardencourt ist ein Kulturideal, ein Ort der Sehnsucht der sozial und national Heimatlosen [...].“ Brosch 113.
 Hoffmann 492.
 Izzo 38.
 Cf. Brosch 115.
 „Bei einem optisch motivierten Standpunkt tritt der Erzähler als Beobachter auf und qualifiziert die in seinem Zeigfeld liegende Gegenständlichkeit in visueller Hinsicht. Er verleiht dem Zeigfeld-Schema gleichsam Akzente, indem er durch Beschreibung suggestive Details für die Konstitution der imaginären Gegenständlichkeit herstellt.“ Manfred Smuda, Der Gegenstand der bildenden Kunst und Literatur: Typologische Untersuchungen zur Theorie des ästhetischen Gegenstands (München: Fink, 1979) 69.
 Izzo 44.
 Viola Hopkins, “Visual Art Devices and Parallels in the Fiction of Henry James”, Henry James: Modern Judgements. Ed. Tory Tanner (Nashville et.al.: Aurora 1970) 89-115, 99f.