You can communicate too much

You and your team have worked for several weeks to develop your white paper detailing the improvements to your product line. When you turned it over to your graphic designer, she reported that your white paper would be at least 24 pages long — and probably even longer than that. You know your company can’t afford to print white papers that long, and even more important, you doubt that any of your prospects will take the time to read all that. So has the work you’ve completed been a waste of time?

Believe it or not, it’s a common problem. The old saw that it’s impossible to overcommunicate just isn’t true. Often companies are so excited about new or improved products or services, and so proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish that they want to share the entire story. They plan to mention every improvement and every detail.

While white papers are intended to be highly communicative documents, it is possible to cram too much information into them. When you do that, you reduce the possibility that your desired reader will take the time to review them. When the reader sees how long your white paper is, she’ll be likely to say, “It looks interesting, but I just don’t have the time.”

Two options for improvements

There are two things you can do when you find yourself in this situation. One is to perform some heavy-duty editing (more likely slashing) to bring your white paper down to a more reasonable size. The second solution is usually more practical. Instead of including everything in one white paper, why not break what you’ve developed into two or three white papers (or even a short series)? You can focus each of the shorter white papers on a specific topic area, on one segment of your product line, or any other division you choose.

Not sure you can break it down?

It can be difficult to divide your white paper, especially after you’ve invested so much time and energy to develop it. That’s when it may make sense to turn the paper over to a professional white paper writer. A professional will be able review the paper, suggest ways to break it down, and create shorter versions of your white paper that will be more informative, compelling, and most of all, effective.

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