Publishing a white paper can be one of the most effective ways for service providers to connect with RIAs. A recent Practical Perspectives’ survey on “Value Add Support to Financial Advisors” revealed that RIAs find white papers, thought leadership pieces and economic-oriented commentaries or outlooks most useful, while wirehouse advisors prefer sales ideas and seminar. Having produced white papers on a wide range topics and firms within the RIA community, I’ve repeatedly seen how it’s helped position executives and firms as thought-leaders, deepened client relationships, and has been an effective lead generator to connect with prospects. There are a variety of different types of white papers, for this article, I’ll focus on white papers that are more practice management and practical advice oriented.
Where to begin?
Often times the hardest part is getting started. First, find a topic that is related closely to what you do and provides real value to the client segment that you serve. Then develop content that’s focused on actionable tips, advice, and takeaways that the advisor can immediately use to improve their firm. Efficiency and profitability are strong drivers for most small to midsized businesses. Think in terms of how you offer help them in these areas.
What’s in a name?
You’ll need a catchy title, but don’t overthink this one. Often times the simplest titles are the best so, simply call it exactly what it is. You may want to add a supporting sub-title too. White papers titles that start with ‘How to…’ or ’10 Tips for…’ are most effective. In addition, your title should be convincing enough for someone make the choice of investing the time to read what’s inside. If I were creating a title for the topic of whitepapers, it might be something like:
“How to Produce a White Paper that Achieves the Results 10 tips on writing a meaningful thought leadership commentary and how to effectively promote it to your target clients.”
What’s your Story?
Treat your white paper as a sort of mini-novel. Start with an introduction that sets the stage before getting into the main content. Then each section becomes a chapter with your unique insights, advice and guidance that speak directly to the needs of advisors. Make sure to include research, statistics and other industry data that support your points. Incorporate infographics between sections to break up the text and bring attention to key points. You can also use call-out quotes from subject matter experts within your firm to make it more personal. Depending how deep your staff’s subject matter expertise bench is, you can also interview center of influence (COI) partners too.
How to close it out?
A conclusion section is the last opportunity to make your point. So make sure it’s persuasive, convincing, and clearly directs the reader for the next steps of action.
Include a bio page, that highlights your credentials and shows how your firm provides value within the industry’s eco-system. Also, include any specific examples of how you’ve contributed to your professional community too.
Since most whitepapers today are in electronic PDF format, create a reference and resource section that links to any outside articles, URLs and useful websites. Don’t forget the all-important, CTA (Call to Action). What is that next logical step you want the reader to do, such as ‘schedule an appointment with a representative for a complimentary consultation’? Whatever it is, give them as many options as possible to contact you (phone, email, social media, webform) and make the process easy and clear.
How to Get the Word Out?
Lastly, we all know the quote from Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams, ‘If You Build It, He [or They, in this case] Will Come’ Not so true when it comes to white papers. In my next article, I‘ll provide insight on developing a foolproof marketing strategy and the best tactics for promoting your white paper.
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