If you are a content writer or marketer, chances are that you would have come across this Concept – White Paper. However, whether or not you are familiar with this concept, this article will be answering all the questions you may have about it, and guide you on how to write White Papers that your audience cannot seem to get enough of. Let’s go already!
What is a White Paper?
Investopedia defines a White Paper as an informational document issued by a company or non-profit organization to promote or highlight the features of a solution, product, or service that it offers or plans to offer. White papers are also used as a method of presenting government policies and legislation and gauging public reaction. For more details, visit www.investopedia.com/terms/w/whitepaper.asp.
Instructionalsolutions.com defines a White Paper as an authoritative document intended to inform the reader on a particular topic. It combines expert knowledge and research into a document that argues for a specific solution or recommendation. Visit https://www.instructionalsolutions.com/blog/how-to-write-white-paper, for more details.
From the above, we can conclude that a White Paper is any document that provides in-depth information on an issue or topic or a solution to a common challenge. It is often targeted at educating readers about its topic or to influence their buying decision (in cases where it is produced by a profit-making organization).
Who Produces White Papers?
In earlier times, white papers were produced by non-profit organizations such as NGOs, Government agencies, Think tanks, etc., who needed to publish the results of their research to the public.
However, with the advent of content marketing, many profit-based organizations started realizing how much they could gain by producing white papers. For starters, since content marketing was yielding good business results, the question was just how much they could benefit from producing white papers?
This a major reason why profit-based organizations now produce white papers, as it helps them to gain trust from the public, and for their target audience to perceive them in a way that will enhance their business interest.
Types of White Papers.
There are three types of White papers and they are as follows:
- Numbered list.
- The Problem/Solution
As the name may suggest, this type of white paper explains how a product works and provide other details any reader might be interested in learning about. The backgrounder is ideal for displaying a product or service to your target audience, as it discusses the product in detail.
In addition to providing in-depth explanations about a product or service, backgrounders contain details like scientific studies and data that reveal just how great your product is. They also provide readers with credible evidence that your claims are valid, and that your organization is an industry leader.
The Numbered List.
As its name suggests, this type of white paper presents its point in a listicle form. That is, it is written in form of a list of points about a topic, product, etc. The numbered list is ideal for a casual target audience, especially if they may want to scheme through the points about the topic quickly.
This type of White Paper is often used for explaining the benefits of a product or service, answering common questions about a new product, etc. The numbered list is the easiest type of White Paper to write and it is ideal for most audiences, especially casual ones.
Problem/Solution White Papers.
This type of white paper introduces a solution to a common challenge faced by their target audience. How does it do this?
It starts by defining the challenge that its product or services can resolve. It discusses this challenge in detail and then goes ahead to demonstrate how their products solve this challenge.
The trick here is, many people are not aware of just how bad their challenge is until you explain it to them. When you have shown them the reason why they need your solution, they will be very excited to pay for your products.
This type of white paper is common with pharmaceutical companies. They identify a medical condition and explain all its symptoms, effects on one’s health, etc. They then go ahead to demonstrate how their drugs correct this condition. By the time any reader is done reading this white paper, they will be eager to get the drug that was discussed (if they have the medical condition).
Benefits of a White Paper.
Since we are discussing all you need to know about a white paper, we will be looking at what you stand to gain when you add White Papers to your content marketing strategy. What are those things anyway?
Did you know that all marketing efforts from an organization are geared towards building trust with consumers? Truth is, big brands are only so because consumers trust their products. Immediately that trust is lost, they are as good as bankrupt.
This is what white papers help you to secure – Trust. When you consistently produce properly researched and helpful white papers, the natural consequence is that your audience begins to see you as thorough, genuinely interested in their wellbeing, etc. This will pave the way for their trust. And once you have it, they will buy your products with joy.
Another benefit of producing quality white papers is that they boost the sales of your products. How does this happen?
As your target audience reads your white papers, they become convinced that you are reliable, experienced, and adept in their area of interest. With this, it becomes easy for them to pay for your products or services.
One industry that has exploited this benefit of white papers is the pharmaceutical industry. They produce a white paper on any food supplement drug of their choice and discuss it in-depth. After reading this type of white paper, their audience will be in a hurry to get this drug and start enjoying its benefits.
White Papers has also been found to be very valuable in generating leads for your business. A survey conducted by DemandGen found that 75% of respondents were more willing to submit personal details for white papers than for any other type of content. Find more about the survey here – www.demandgenreport.com/resources/research/the-2017-content-preferences-survey-report. Many other surveys have also revealed just how key white papers are in generating leads.
Several companies regard white papers as very valuable in their leads generating efforts. For details on how to use your white papers to generate valuable leads, visit https://compose.ly/strategy/4-reasons-white-papers-are-important-for-marketing/.
How to Write a White Paper.
Having discussed the benefits of white papers, it will not come as a surprise if you are already wondering about how to write one. In this section, we will be looking at just eight easy steps to writing one. Let’s go already!
Pick a great Topic.
The first step to writing a successful white paper is picking a great topic. What do we mean by a great topic? We mean a topic that many persons are inquisitive about. People will only read a white paper that is relevant to their needs or is answering a question on their mind.
How do you find a great topic? You can start by identifying your audience. When you identify your audience, then ask yourself what their needs could be, the questions or challenges they may be faced with, etc.
The answer to these questions will be a great place to select your topic. Remember that a white paper is only as successful as how much it answers the questions of your audience.
Be descriptive & Professional.
One of the reasons why white papers are such a big deal is the quality that is expected from each. As you write your white paper, take the time to write descriptively and professionally to ensure that your work is excellent.
Note that no casual language can be used since it is a professional piece.
Use a Great Introduction.
Have you ever wondered why teasers are used in movies? Well, you guessed it right, it is used to catch your attention from the very minute you sit to watch.
The same goes for white papers. When you use a great introduction, it grabs the attention of your readers and encourages them to read the entire copy.
One way to achieve this is by telling them what they stand to gain by reading your white paper, at the introduction. You can add an outline of your work after your introduction, to help your audience navigate easily.
Demonstrate Your Quality.
Truth is, before your target audience uses your products or services, they must have first read your white paper. This why it is necessary to demonstrate the quality your clients get in your white papers. What does this mean?
Through the high quality of your white papers, show prospective customers that they can count on you to deliver quality products or services. Leverage on research data where necessary, to ensure that you produce a high-quality white paper that answers the questions of your audience.
Write your first draft.
Write out the outline or structure you wish your paper to follow and then go-ahead to write the first draft. In addition, ensure that the quality of your write-up does not slip.
Edit Your Work.
One challenge writers face in general is trying to edit as they write. On the face of it, it seems like an effective way to write, however, it is not. It slows you down. It disturbs your flow of thinking and makes it a challenge to flow.
Write out your first draft and then edit it afterward. As you edit the first draft, make as many adjustments as necessary to get your work in top shape.
After making necessary edits, proofread your work for errors that might elude you in the course of your edits. The purpose of proofreading is to ensure that when your white paper is published, it is free of any type of error.
Follow-up with how you can help.
If you have a product or service that can assist your target audience with the challenge your white paper discussed, ensure to mention it in the conclusion of your paper. Ensure that you do not mention your products in the body of the paper, since you are not writing a sales copy.
And when you mention your products in the conclusion, simply suggest it and leave it at that. Interested consumers will pick it up from there and contact you.
Writing white papers can be very beneficial to your organization if done right. That is why this article has tried to show you how to write white papers that produce the kind of business results you desire.
If you are having challenges writing a decent white paper, you might need to focus on areas where you are experienced, and conduct more research. Read some white papers and learn how they do it. All of these will help you grow rapidly. Wishing you success as you embark on your learning.