In today’s fast pace, there are as many high-tech solutions as there are ways to market them. White papers remain popular in the Technology sector as more than half of B2B and business-to-government (B2G) marketers focus on them as key components of their content marketing (MarketingSherpa).

But choosing the wrong white paper can be costly. When used incorrectly, a white paper will drain valuable resources and completely miss the mark by not resonating with the reader.

Just how do you choose the right white paper? By knowing your goal which is determined by where your prospect sits in the sales funnel.

Goal 1: Capture prospects and build credibility

When you want to generate leads, educate industry bloggers, journalists or channel partners or reinforce your brand positioning, choose a Problem/Solution white paper. As the most complex type of white paper, it’s also the workhorse with the highest ROI.

This popular soft-sell pulls in prospects who don’t need to be sold, but rather, want to understand how your organization can help them make a decision. That’s why they appeal to B2B executives and C-level prospects.

A Problem/Solution white paper introduces an industry-wide issue, breaks down past solutions, highlights their drawbacks and then seamlessly introduces your solution as an indispensable solution. So it perfectly aligns with prospects who experience similar problems and need to know how to solve it.

Goal 2: Nurture and entertain your leads mid-funnel

Now that your leads are in the funnel, you want to stay top-of-mind. When you need to keep leads engaged mid-funnel, do it with a succinct Numbered List white paper.

The middle of the funnel can be a long journey, but you can shorten the ride with an attention-grabbing list of tips, “How-to’s, “Reasons why”, or “Things to know before”. Numbered List white papers can set you apart when you inject humour, challenge popular beliefs, or undermine the competition.

This format appeals to anyone in your funnel because it’s a quick and entertaining read that will keep them hooked before they decide to evaluate you. It’s where you can have some fun and even be a bit cheeky as you move prospects closer to the finish line.

Goal 3: Seal the deal with in-depth knowledge

The bottom of the funnel is where marketing and technical experts evaluate your solutions, so why not defend your market position with a Backgrounder white paper?

Unlike the other formats, a Backgrounder lets you showcase your solutions. This is where you can boast about features, benefits and functionalities, cost of ownership, your USP and competitive advantages or expected ROI. Deeper than a product brief or brochure, it gets into the nitty-gritty of why your offering is better.

Backgrounder white papers appeal to the bottom of the funnel as they prepare to shortlist you. It’s how you can shut down the competition and edge your way closer to being the vendor of choice.

Optional combinations

Not all combinations work well, but in some cases, merging two white paper formats can address two audiences sitting close together in the funnel. For example, a Problem/Solution + Numbered List can highlight a specific problem and list what prospects should consider before buying. A Backgrounder + Numbered List can describe your solutions’ features and cast doubt on your competition.