For a growing healthcare startup white papers are an affordable way to build a reputation as a thought leader, grow an audience and hopefully grow your business.
It’s no wonder many healthcare companies create and distribute white papers on their website. While the target audience for your white paper (i.e., the public, patients, government, non-profits, investors, etc) may vary, you will always compete for limited attention.
“A whitepaper is a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution,” HubSpot explains. “Marketers create whitepapers to educate their audience about a particular issue, or explain and promote a particular methodology.”
An executive tasked to make purchasing decisions does not have enough time to sift through options. A patient has other life priorities, and the investor has other places where they could put their money.
To remain top of mind, it’s important that people actually read them. So, how do you even get people to read your white paper, especially when they have a million other things they could read online?
1. Do your research
It is good to come up with an interesting idea. It is even better to test it. Run it by a client. Do a Google search. Check out reviews of products like yours. Go back to your emails and gather top customer questions and complaints. Create a Twitter poll to invite input. Create an online survey with a raffle prize.
Most clients are willing to share input, and when you involve them in this process it will: a) help you know, instead of guess, what their needs are; and b) build up hype for your healthcare white paper release; which they will be more interested in since they played a role in its development.
2. Ensure your white papers useful
If you solve your client’s pain points well, selling becomes a natural part of the conversation. Go the extra mile. Give clients creative solutions to the problems they have or combine it in fun ways they have never considered.
In light of policy changes, you may help providers be more effective with digital health technologies like yours. Perhaps you can provide CEO’s with evidence on the efficacy of a public health research approach they can use. When they need to take this approach guess who they will think of? You!
The other day on Twitter, I saw a users list of places where people can travel to on a Nigerian passport without needing a visa (and the list was even color coded according to ease). I have a Nigerian passport and I love to travel. I saved the list because it was useful to me. Guess who followed her on Twitter without being asked to “Please follow back?” Me. And that is why research (my first tip) matters.
3. Create white papers with utility and design in mind
You must be useful but the aesthetics of your white paper matters too. Is your white paper readable on smartphones, which a lot of people are likely reading from? Is it in a good font? Are there typos? Is the language right for your audience? If your audience are technocrats and you are using informal lingo, you may have lost them before they could even get to the utility of your tool. Investing in a good editor and graphic designer will not be a bad idea. Beauty and utility can go hand in hand.
4. Tell a bigger story
Be human. How do you want your client to feel–deceived or empowered? No one likes being sold on something. Rather show clients how you can meet their need. Show them case studies of how you’ve helped companies like theirs along with focus group results. Share literature reviews and the latest studies on your digital health technology work. Show them industry trends that they will not find elsewhere.
If you can build trust, then they will remember you. Create a narrative connected to the goal, facilitated by your solution. Tell a story. Take them on a journey. Think of this as a conversation starter.
5. Be authentic
Use this opportunity to show clients your company’s DNA. What is your brand voice? What do you promise? What are your core values? These should be reflected in the white paper. If your promise is cost-savings, then reflect this consideration in the white paper. If a client is banking on you for a premier experience, convey this in the format of your white paper and how your frame your story.
6. Don’t forget your executive summary
No matter how beautiful and life changing your white paper is, not everyone will have the time to read it in depth. A concise executive summary will help people get the gist and decide if it’s worthy of the time investment. Don’t waste this opportunity. Frame the issues properly, provide evidence, and tell the reader why they need to read the white paper. Also provide a call to action for readers who may need more information.
7. Forget fake news
You are most likely talking to people who know their stuff. Your audience likely includes the public (who are interested in the control of their care and health decisions now more than ever) or CEO’s who have their finger on the pulse of the industry. Make sure to back up your statements with highly credible sources. In the healthcare space this includes academic journals, or reputable organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization–amongst others. Wikipedia or news articles are not generally consider credible research sources.
8. Use white papers strategically
White paper distribution is an essential marketing strategy for healthcare startups, not a stand alone tactic. Consider how white papers fit into your overall business development strategy.
For example, you could host white papers on a landing page designed to generate leads and build your email list. You could also release white papers to build trust with potential clients or provide more value for existing clients who read your blog. You might even distribute white papers on free PR sites or hire a PR firm to disseminate them for you.
Ultimately, work your white paper! Your audience could be doing many things but they chose to arrive at the page and download your paper. Make it worth their time.
Dr. Ebele Mọgọ is a Doctor of Public Health with a wealth of expertise in designing, implementing and evaluating transformative public health projects. She is the Principal of ERIM Consulting which uses research evidence and business insights to advance public health impact. Click here to see how ERIM Consulting can support your organization in creating public health impact (including creating that high value white paper). Connect with @ebyral on Twitter.