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From the Trenches

Healthcare White Papers: Your Guide to Influence and Impact

Yvonne Lyons | April 23, 2024

Few tools in the vast healthcare marketing landscape wield the enduring power and influence of the white paper. It’s not just about lead generation or thought leadership; it’s about shaping the narrative, guiding decisions, and championing your solutions in a sea of options. A 2023 survey by Demand Gen Report found that 50% of B2B buyers find white papers to be the most appealing content type.

But let’s not mince words: Crafting a good white paper isn’t just about slapping together some fancy jargon and hoping for the best. It’s about diving deep into the heart of a problem, shedding light on complexities, and empowering your audience with insights they won’t find elsewhere. It’s the antithesis of a hard sell — a delicate balance between persuasion and education.

Whether you work in healthcare, healthtech, or medtech, white papers can be a powerful and compelling tool in your arsenal.

What Is the Purpose of a White Paper?

White papers need to educate on as deep and specific a level as possible — without completely giving away the “secret sauce,” of course. They need to help readers solve a tough problem or describe in detail the benefits of a methodology.

But before diving headlong into the writing process, clarity on your objective is paramount. Are you aiming to steer prospects towards a specific product, enlighten them about your unique service offering, or showcase a compelling use case that nudges them closer to a purchase decision? Once you’ve honed in on your goal, every word you pen should serve to drive that message home with unwavering conviction, enticing prospects to take that next step down the sales funnel.

Marketers sometimes fall into the trap of feeling compelled to share too much about the company itself in a white paper. But great white papers will figure out how to deliver only enough company positioning as is necessary, while over-delivering on the thought leadership and authority on the problem being addressed. The goal isn’t to make it about the company — it’s to make it about the customers’ problems.

A good example of a healthcare white paper is PatientPop, which created an all-in-one practice management platform for growing doctor’s offices. Their purpose was clear in creating a white paper to share their original research. Rather than creating an entire “About” section to focus on their company, they contextualized the findings with a note from their CEOs after the executive summary.

PatientPop White Paper

Answer Your Prospects’ Most Pressing Questions

As you fine-tune and figure out what angle to take on a key issue for your brand, consider your buyer personas and the kind of questions that feel pressing to them related to your company’s solution or offering. For example, a healthtech company that provides a B2B telehealth platform for hospitals might examine:

  • What distinguishes telehealth technology designed for hospitals and physicians groups from telehealth designed as direct to consumers?
  • Which revenue streams within a hospital have the potential to be positively impacted with a telehealth solution? And in which departments?
  • How do you choose a telehealth solution? What capability considerations matter most?
  • What is the near- and long-term future of telehealth technology?

Essentially, you want to tackle big questions that are difficult to answer in a way that presents your company as a solution to a problem (even if indirectly). Doing so will help connect your solution to larger trends in your marketplace and industry, while demonstrating to your audience that your brand is one to be trusted.

Back Up Your Claims

A good white paper showcases your organization’s expertise — but a great white paper backs its claims up with trusted third-party research. You can say all you want about a tele-ICU solution’s impact on patients, but unless you back it up with credible research, you’re not really substantiating your claim.

Given the more formal air of a white paper (versus, say, a blog post), you need to choose your sources carefully. Leverage the most credible research at your disposal, and your message will come across all the more authoritative. In fact, we even have a checklist for using research to buttress good content:

WELL, a secure healthcare communication platform, not only used timely and credible sources to support their data-driven white paper, but cited them in a non-obtrusive way:

WELL White Paper

What if credible third-party sources don’t exist? That means there’s a golden opportunity! 

Like the PatientPop example above, if research doesn’t exist, that means you can do the research. It takes time and investment, but there is no substitute (especially in Google’s search algorithms) for bringing new knowledge into the world and hosting it on your platform.

How to Title a White Paper

You worked hard to draft a compelling case, so do your white paper justice by titling it appropriately. Brainstorm heavily and give others within the organization a chance to contribute ideas. Whatever you do, don’t include the words “white paper” in your title. Give it a name that conveys something about your paper’s key points and motivates audiences to read it. And remember, if you include your product name, your white paper will likely come across as sales collateral.

Rather than opting for a long title that you hope conveys all the valuable information in your white paper, think short and compelling:

Silversheet Handbook

Silversheet, a talent management platform for medical providers, offers their Credential Management Handbook. This white paper is clearly titled in a way that helps the audience know what they’re going to get without being too wordy.

Rather than pack too many details into the title, they offer “What You’ll Learn” takeaways while asking the audience to input information into a lead gate to download.

Spread the Word

Your white paper may be a masterpiece, but it won’t work its magic unless you give it the spotlight it deserves. While it’s essential to have it readily available on your website, ideally complete with a captivating landing page to entice potential readers, don’t stop there. Take proactive steps to further nsure its visibility.

Craft a compelling blog post that highlights the key insights and benefits of your white paper. Then unleash the power of your email list by sending out a targeted message to your clients and prospects, enticing them to dive into your latest offering. Extend your reach even further by leveraging your social media platforms to broadcast the news far and wide. Don’t hesitate to enlist the support of your colleagues, urging them to share the content within their networks as well.

And remember, accessibility is key. Ensure your white paper is easily discoverable on your website, preferably featuring prominently on your homepage while it’s fresh and hot off the press. After all, great content deserves to be seen by as many eyes as possible.

If you do all this and your white paper educates and serves a specific purpose, it will attract the right readers. Substantiate it by solid research and real-life relevance, so it can be a useful tool to deepen your relationship with your prospects.

Need help making your own white paper a powerful, persuasive tool in your B2B marketing efforts? Right Source can help. Contact us to start the conversation.

Editor’s note: This content was originally published on December 9, 2020, and has been updated multiple times since to maintain its relevance.

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About Yvonne Lyons:

Yvonne Lyons is Right Source’s vice president of creative services, overseeing content and design for all of our clients. She ensures that all creative produced at Right Source is of the highest quality and is aligned with our clients’ business strategy and goals. Yvonne received a bachelor’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University in writing and literature and has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, branding, and communications.