ffective pull marketing plan focuses not only on relationship marketing but also on credibility-building techniques, including a particularly powerful tool known as the white paper.
The research process of writing a white paper allows you to develop further your understanding of the needs of your niche community. This enhanced understanding improves your ability to satisfy your clients' needs. By addressing the needs of the members of your niche community, the white paper helps establish you as a true authority, reinforcing your positioning in your niche market.
The three parts to developing a white paper are outlined below.
1. Research. White papers should address a need or topic of serious interest to your niche. Determine the needs of your niche community through a series of interviews with centres of influence. Centres of influence understand these unique needs and they are usually willing to share their insights with you on the basis your findings will benefit others in the community.
As part of Centric Wealth Advisory's participation in Strategic Consulting and Training's Cultivating Advice program, Bruce Christie, a financial planner with the firm in Sydney, has recently completed a rigorous research process with centres of influence in the charitable giving community, including accountants and lawyers, as well as a charitable-giving intermediary. Christie's research included both anecdotal evidence and industry research by Dr Kym Madden, an academic from the Queensland University of Technology.
2. Document your research findings in a comprehensive white paper, including:
. a short executive summary of the paper;
. details of the needs of your community, including key quotes from those interviewed. For the greatest effectiveness, combine industry research with your own commentary and recommendations;
. details of your tailored solution, which fills the needs determined in your research;
. details of the benefits your solution will provide to the community;
. a section providing more information about the author as well as your business' key points of differentiation; and
. your value proposition to those in the niche community.
It is highly recommended you enlist the assistance of a skilled freelance/ghostwriter to ensure your white paper is written in a language and tone that will appeal to your niche community. Although you may be an expert in the provision of strategic financial advice and feel you know your subjects well, it takes a skilled writer to communicate your knowledge/ understanding effectively to your niche community and the press. Christie believes "the hardest part is getting over the inertia of writing the first sentence". A way around this is to focus initially on an outline of the white paper. This outline can then be provided, together with any transcriptions of your meetings held with centres of influence, to a ghostwriter to take it from there.
Make sure you bring the paper to life through colour, format, graphs and tables.
Seek feedback on the draft paper from your centres of influence and, before you finalise it, incorporate any valuable or constructive comments.
3. Distribute your white paper to members of your niche community, including clients, prospects, alliance partners and centres of influence. Treat the white paper as your business card. It's a far more powerful call to action than a typical business card though, because it positions you as an expert who can meet the needs of your niche community. It's a particularly powerful call to action if you are a guest speaker at a conference/presentation of your niche community.
Christie's aim was to provide his professional advisers, whose clients are donors, with a report that outlines in simple terms the options for their charitable giving clients. He says his approach is to "utilise the white paper to enhance relationships with existing professionals who work with donors and, as a result, possibly be introduced to new clients".
Finally, as well as making your white paper available on your website, it's recommended you offer to make condensed versions of the paper available to the press, including editors of publications read by your niche community.
In terms of the link between positioning and profitability, our Dashboard Reports show practices that strongly promote their value proposition have a net profit before owner's salary that is, on average, 23 per cent higher than the net profit before owner's salary of practices that don't strongly promote their value proposition.
White papers enable your business to establish credibility and for you to position yourself clearly as an expert provider of solutions to your niche community. The greater your positioning, the greater the rewards for you and your business.