What is a white paper? White papers are documents that explore complex issues to educate audiences. In a marketing or policymaking context, a white paper provides enough facts and arguments to convince people that your product, service, or strategy offers the best solution for the situation, educating them about the issue and making a case for your position or advice.
What is a white paper and how can you use one?
White papers are an excellent way to explain what makes your solution better than competing alternatives. They can summarize key information about a particular issue or problem to help the reader develop a stronger understanding. They can also describe common problems your audience faces and provide detailed explanations as to how your approach provides the best solution.
What is a white paper and how does it differ from a brochure?
Effective white papers are generally not promotional. Because the audiences that white papers target — such as engineers, CFOs, and CEOs — tend to distrust materials that appear to be more “salesy” than informative, most are simply set up to look like trade magazine articles with fewer pictures.
To write a white paper, you need to start by knowing the issue it will be about, the aspects that matter to your audience, and the arguments you plan to make. White papers usually begin with a general summary of the issue or the problem, and then go into depth about that issue or problem. Once it has been explored at length, the paper explains the solutions or approaches that have been developed to address the issue or problem, with a focus on the solution or approach that you want to advance. White papers often end with a brief message about your company and what it offers.
Some white papers include a short abstract at the beginning of the paper to summarize the key messages and conclusion. You can also place a list of other references and sources that the reader may find informative at the end of the paper.
Crafting a white paper is very different from other kinds of marketing-related writing such as websites, brochures, and blog posts, primarily because they’re more factual and educational than promotional. That’s why even experienced marketing writers will turn white paper projects over to professional white paper writers.