An increasingly important skill in the business world is knowing how to write a good white paper. That’s because so many companies are discovering the many advantages of white papers, including their ability to be used in marketing programs.
Good white papers aren’t brochures
Some people assume that writing a white paper is just like creating a brochure, but they are actually very different. Brochures and other promotional documents are written to sell directly to prospects and customers. They may use language similar to what appears in advertisements or promotional emails, and are usually created to get someone to act right away. In comparison, white papers are educational tools designed to help audiences better understand a particular subject or course of action. White papers should be written in a serious, straightforward way.
Structuring a good white paper
White paper titles should also be serious and straightforward, rather than clever or promotional. They should describe the issue that’s important to the desired reader. White papers often begin with a brief description of the problem or challenge faced by the audience. Next, they explore the different types of solutions that have been developed in response to the problem or challenge, examining the advantages and disadvantages of each. Again, instead of being promotional, they should focus on facts. Most marketing white papers end with a short section describing the writer’s product or service, and an even shorter description of the company.
Good white papers take time to write
While most people can write a blog post in an hour or two, white papers usually demand more research, drawing upon the knowledge of multiple experts and selecting the topics of greatest interest to the audience. The process of writing, reviewing, revising, and design can easily take a company a month or more to complete.
Do subject matter experts write good white papers?
Some companies assign the responsibility of creating white papers to the technical members of their staffs, because they have the information the papers will cover. While a good white paper covers technical information, it shouldn’t be written in technical language, because the reader probably won’t be familiar with those technical details. A professional white paper writer must develop a thorough understanding of the subject matter, so they’ll ask questions you and your team may not have considered. Those are likely to be many of the same questions your prospective customers might ask, so they can help you frame the messages in the most compelling and effective ways.