10 Creative White Paper Ideas to Score Big with Your B2B Audience

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White papers are among the best lead generation tools for B2B marketers, but they must present unique information to ensure an exchange of information.

After all, the prospect is giving up their name, contact information, and demographics for a free asset.

This is enough of a deterrent for the prospect to bounce back if the landing page doesn’t convey enough value.

Wikipedia defines B2B white papers as:

“…articles (that) use selected facts and logical arguments to build a case favorable to the company sponsoring the paper.”

To me, this is a fair definition since white papers not only inform an audience but also present their brand in a favorable manner.

These are editorial content that inform opinions, a bit like a journalistic column or even a sponsored article.

The key differential of a white paper is that it must convey authority with the depth of its research – and it must be valuable enough to convert that lead.

In this article, you’ll find 10 creative white paper concepts that will stand out in social media feeds, email newsletters, and programmatic advertising so you can score big with your B2B audience.

1. A guide written by a C-Suite member

With this idea, you combine thought leadership with the level of detail required in a white paper to shape opinions in your niche.

Rather than a faceless document, it is authored by a member of the C-suite, such as the chief executive officer (CEO) or chief technology officer (CTO).

These often cover a pressing issue in your industry.

For busy C-suites, ghostwriting is often a pretty effective option as long as it captures the right tone and ideas.

What sets these white papers apart is their personal voice, which creates connection and conveys trust.

Include the author’s contact information in the footer so readers can easily get in touch with their thoughts or comments.

2. White paper with survey results

Surveying your audience is a great way to address their interests.

After all, people in your industry want to know what other decision makers in their niche think, so they often need credible data from surveys.

You can conduct a survey on your own (or hire a survey provider) to gather information from your audience.

It could be buyer behavior, industry outlook, or even key challenges and ideas on how to solve them.

From this data, create a white paper that presents the results, but also provides expert commentary on these insights and what they mean for your industry.

This type of content positions your brand as an authority, which in turn will serve as a primary magnet for leads who trust the quality you bring to the table.

3. Predictions for the next quarter (or fiscal year)

Each time a new quarter looms, marketing and sales teams are under pressure to strategize to improve (or recover) their pipeline productivity.

Thus, a white paper with predictions provides valuable guidance to these professionals to shape their strategies.

These predictions can be backed up with trending data, hashtags, and even interviews with industry decision makers about what they can expect for the coming months.

4. Insights from academic research

Academics around the world are publishing valuable research for your audience that you can leverage to create groundbreaking and credible content.

You just need to check scientific article websites such as JSTOR and Elsevier with keywords that relate to your niche.

And if you want to go local, contact your regional university for research to fuel your white paper ideas.

Don’t forget to credit the authors. If desired, they can be showcased later in a video or webinar which, in turn, will add value and credibility to your ideas.

5. “Anti-hero” white papers

If there’s a rule that’s considered a gold standard in your niche, but you think it can be improved upon (or is just plain wrong), then you have a perfect opportunity to publish an “anti -hero”.

A Anti-hero defies convention – and in this case, it’s a white paper with shocking ideas that will invite readers to think about new possibilities.

However, be careful because these bold pieces of content can fail if you wrongly challenge well-regarded concepts.

Be sure to back up your arguments with enough evidence as to why certain rules should be broken, and if successful, you’ll pave the way for new practices in your industry (or at least an interesting discussion).

Bonus points if your anti-hero whitepaper turns into viral content that promotes your personal or business brand.

6. Forgotten Lessons

Historical figures are often overlooked as their heritage is taken for granted or overshadowed by newer, more fashionable ideas.

If you have books from classic thinkers that serve as perfect analogies for how your business is shaped today, you can present their thoughts as “forgotten lessons” to your readers in a form of thought leadership.

For example, in technology, books by pioneers such as Tim Berners-Lee (an English computer scientist best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web) provide insight into how we can use the Internet today or, at the very least, are interesting reading.

7. Professional Reference Guide

A reference guide is a comprehensive resource for a professional to quickly find what they need for their job.

It should cover the basics and contain a summary overview of a role’s advanced tasks with links to further reading.

Reference guides usually include an introduction for beginners, descriptions of the main tasks the job entails, a brief FAQ, and recommendations for resources for professional development (books, courses, certifications).

This type of white paper is difficult to pull off, but it has the potential to be an invaluable asset to your audience, especially those just starting out in their careers.

For example, the ‘Mechanical Engineer’s Pocket Book‘ is a comprehensive guide for new and experienced engineers to reference symbols, formulas, reference tables and components.

The book has been revised three times since its publication in 1990 to keep up with the latest technology.

However, its structure has remained the same, proving how easily this type of content can be refreshed to continue to be relevant.

8. Summary of case studies

If you have related case studies, why not consolidate them into one white paper?

‘5 case studies of [Product] for Healthcare SMBs’ is a hypothetical example where you would provide a summary of each case study with an overview of the overall results.

This gives your case studies more punch and is an easy-to-produce white paper if you already have the original content.

9. Lessons from past trends

This idea for a white paper also draws on lessons from the previous year.

However, it is based on trends rather than the ideas of pioneers in your industry.

While it can be argued that trends are unpredictable, a common element to these white papers is a new and unexpected perspective for an audience.

In other words, a trend cuts through the noise.

So, if you compile the past trends of your niche, you will understand why they were highly valued and singled out by your audience.

You can publish what you’ve learned in a white paper such as “7 Lessons Learned from the Biggest Hospitality Trends of 2020”, for example.

10. White papers on co-marketing

With co-marketing, you partner with another business to launch an asset and share the leads generated.

Partnering with an authoritative brand can not only increase the perceived value of your services, but also reduce the workload on your team.

If, for example, you want to launch a white paper on educational technology, why not co-market with a brand that has different offerings (but is not a competitor)?

With co-marketing, you can also double the reach, publishing the asset on more proprietary channels and leveraging separate paid media budgets.

It is therefore a win-win, which allows marketing teams to select the most qualified leads from the campaign for their company.

Final considerations

Often, choosing the right white paper idea is simply not enough.

To make sure it’s also an engaging lead generation tool, here are four additional considerations:

Be concise, but don’t skimp on content

Your audience will read your white paper precisely for their in-depth knowledge, but that doesn’t mean they have to ruminate on unnecessary information.

Nor does it mean reusing an article in a multi-page PDF just so it can generate leads.

White papers are not meant to be dense like scientific resources, but rather detailed reports on an interesting topic.

They can be a problem-solving tool (like a reference guide) or can simply present results.

What you need to keep in mind when creating a white paper is readability, which can be improved by including summaries, indexes, subsections, and lists.

Include only the amount of information the reader needs to understand the topic.

Stay in touch with your organization’s leadership team

Whether you’re a freelancer or an in-house content writer, talking with your leaders (or clients) is essential to creating thought leadership content that engages your audience.

It also helps spark creativity, which is often needed to produce the groundbreaking content needed for remarkable discussion.

This way, leaders can better anticipate market needs, rather than creating content based solely on what has worked in the past according to CRM and SEO metrics.

Don’t copy what already exists

If you read a competitor’s white paper and think, “Wow, we could do that,” then don’t!

Many companies fall into the trap of copying other brands, polluting the infosphere with duplicate content.

Instead, analyze what makes this content so good and what features apply to your brand.

Then you’ll be ready to create new, better-informed white papers that can surpass the success of your competitors.

Challenge Conventions

Like the anti-hero white paper idea in this list, presenting an unexpected view can make your white paper stand out.

And maintaining that perspective keeps you from posting mundane content because you’ll creatively wonder why your industry’s status quo.

Keep in mind that rebellion works best if it’s contained, so don’t encourage this side unnecessarily in your work.

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Featured Image: SkyPics Studio/Shutterstock

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