THE CHALLENGES OF WRITING A WHITE PAPER
If you need to explain to your clients the excellent features of your product much more in depth then in a blog post but no so technically as in a user’s manual or an academic paper, you should think about crafting a white paper. This document is similar to an e-book, but usually contains insights, research, industry comparisons, and other information which would be relevant to a client. Simply put, if you sell something that is expensive and could benefit from a long-form exposure, this is the type of content creation you need.
1. Don’t use a sales tone in a white paper
Even if a whitepaper is a marketing tool, it should feel more like a research piece. The expected tone is neutral and professional, even academic. Logically organize the writing before writing the paper. Identify a problem which your product solves, then place it in a broader economic and technologic context.
First, inform your reader about the industry trends. Then, move on to your pain point and describe the challenges together with previously proposed solutions which were not good enough. Finally, discuss how the product you have can make a real difference by filling in the gaps not addressed until now. Restrain from using adjectives and focus more on data, tests, trials and actual results. Appeal to logic, not emotion, but in a catchy way.
2. It’s much more than a blog post
Since this is a type of content, you rarely create, make sure you put much thought into it and take care of every detail. The expected length varies between 5 and 50 pages, with an average around 20, including tables. Therefore, don’t use the same approach you would have for a weekly blog post. In fact, an excellent white paper can be repurposed as other digital products.
Pay special attention to the title and subtitles. The title should include the topic and a benefit, while subtitles should focus on steps.
3. Go for excellent graphic representation
Most people (65%) are graphical learners. This means that a picture is worth a thousand words. Using text-only is both annoying and not compelling enough. A white paper is a great environment for charts, infographics, maps or any type of image which complements the ideas from the text. Of course, all these have to be in high-resolution. Check for potential copyright infringements relating images.
Although you could use a standard editor like Word, it pays off to have the material given a professional layout by a graphics editor. Small details like including your company’s logo or using multi-column layout can make it stand out.
4. Think about where you will post it
Once you have your white paper, think about how you will use it for a longer period. For example, you can post it as a freebie to get more leads. Also, you could create a dedicated landing page as part of a sales funnel strategy. Once it has worn off a bit but could still be considered attractive, you could split it into blog posts. Never retire completely such a document. Instead, archive it on your website, possibly in a dedicated section.