Whether you have been in marketing for many years or you are brand new to it, you have very likely heard the phrase “content is king” – sometimes repeatedly. But it’s repeated so frequently for a reason; because it’s true. Content can be a powerful lead generator and an effective tool for boosting your company’s position as a thought leader. White papers are among the types of content that you can offer, and one that you should consider adding to your resource library.

So, what is a white paper? White papers are short research-based reports that typically solve a problem your audience has or seeks to educate them on an unfamiliar topic. They help solidify your thought leadership status while increasing awareness of your brand. White papers are also considered a high conversion piece with some estimates that up to 76 percent of buyers have used them to make a decision.

How do you create an effective white paper? That answer will vary somewhat depending on your business and industry, but here are some essential tips to follow:

1. Don’t be salesy. First and foremost, remember that a white paper is educational and informative, not salesy. Your focus shouldn’t be on your products or services, it should be on being helpful to your audience.

2. Take the road not taken. Now that content marketing is an essential part of nearly every organization’s marketing strategy, there is a lot more competition for getting eyes on your content. Look at what your competitors are producing to ensure your white paper isn’t merely a copycat. Think about unique perspectives and angles that haven’t been covered before.

3. Consider SEO. SEO is a great way to draw that aforementioned attention to your white papers. If someone has a problem they are trying to solve, they typically start by researching the web for solutions, and that’s where keywords and SEO come into play. While the white paper itself will likely be a downloadable PDF, consider keywords in the title you choose for your piece and the landing page that you are using to host the content.

4. Turn to subject matter experts. Subject matter experts (SMEs) have a vital role to play in white paper creation. Depending on your industry and audience, as a marketer, you may not have all the knowledge, expertise and insights necessary to write an authoritative and engaging white paper. Turn to those within your organization that can provide you with the information necessary to speak to your audience on an expert level.

5. Don’t forget your call to action. Don’t make the call to action, or CTA, the primary focus of the white paper as that is not the intention for it. But don’t forget the importance of including one. Make the CTA specific – what exactly would you like them to do if they are interested? Call, fill out a form, like your Facebook page, chat on your website? Do not offer too many options as it can overwhelm your reader, but provide a few options of actions to take so you can suit various preferences.

Happy Marketing!