The second step of the PEER marketing strategy (Prepare, Evolve, Engage, Retain) is where the rubber hits the road, putting your plans into action. You’re attracting leads and starting to nurture them so you can develop a relationship and, ultimately, convert leads to customers for your dealership. Because every prospect wants and needs something a bit different, creating whitepapers is one way you can secure their interest in you.
What is a whitepaper?
We hear the term bandied about, but the meaning can change from one industry to another. The kind of whitepaper that will most likely interest your trucking or construction prospects (and existing customers as well) is an in-depth factual exploration of a timely industry topic. It is an educational piece, somewhat scholarly in nature, not a promotion for your products or dealership.
For instance, you might do something on how contractors in your region are approaching jobs differently today than they did ten years ago. You could survey your own customers – and some targeted prospects – to gather data for your report. Typically, whitepapers are formatted to:
- State a problem (in this case, the fact that the industry has changed).
- Offer a solution (in this case, explaining how innovative contractors are addressing today’s challenges).
You can produce whitepapers aimed at specific segments of your marketing audience. For example, a whitepaper that describes the pros and cons of various truck financing options might appeal to the CFO of a large fleet operation but not the employee drivers.
You can use whitepapers in several ways.
As noted above, you can include whitepapers among the premium content offers available via your website or pay-per-click advertising. In trading it for your prospect’s email address, you gain a quality lead you can now follow up with. (Hint: because whitepapers offer deep insight into relevant subjects, they tend to be most effective to convert leads who are farther into your sales funnel, as opposed to top-of-funnel tire-kickers.)
You can also print your whitepaper so your sales team can use it as a “leave-behind” after a face-to-face meeting with a well-qualified prospect. You’re giving them a valuable resource – branded with your name, of course – and that’s memorable marketing. Because of their educational nature, whitepapers tend to be kept at hand and passed around larger organizations, so multiple staff can benefit from the information. That increases your brand awareness and reach.
But whitepapers aren’t just informative. They build credibility and trust. They reinforce your dealership’s reputation as an industry-leader when it comes to serious thinking. And of course you can draw the connection from that to the fact that your dealership responds to today’s market needs by selling top-of-the-line, relevant equipment and offering parts, service and a loyalty program that are all customer-driven.
How do you go about creating a great whitepaper?
Because there can be significant research involved as well as writing, these projects can be more time-consuming than other marketing efforts. This is an excellent opportunity to engage the services of your marketing team to help. They have the expertise and resources to survey customers and others on your behalf, compile the data and write up the narrative.
They also have the creative talent to turn your data into eye-catching charts or other graphics and to “dress” your final whitepaper so it’s properly branded and professionally represents your dealership.
Whitepapers are a niche offer, they will never be the centerpiece of your marketing execution plan. Nonetheless, including one or two among your content mix can help you garner new respect and convert leads to appreciative customers.