The 5 Things Any Great White Paper Should Have

The 5 Things Any Great White Paper Should Have

On the 5th Day of the 12 Days of Great Content we consider the humble-yet-powerful white paper.

It can be easy to overlook the white paper in favor of more glamorous options like Instagram posts and digital video. But the truth is, a well-written white paper can open doors like no other content.

Now clearly, white papers don’t work for every product or every brand. But, there are circumstances where using a white paper is one of the best things you to do to build an audience.

  • You’re a business-to-business brand looking to break into a highly competitive field.
  • You’re looking to feed a steady stream of leads to your sales team or website.
  • You are looking to build credibility and establish a reputation as a thought leader within your industry or field.

So what exactly goes into a good white paper? Here are 5 golden guidelines for you to consider:

  1. Identify a topic that is a concern or pain point with your audience, and use the paper to demonstrate that you understand and empathize with how it affects them.
  2. Your writing should seem more “weighty” then your typical click-through list or slideshow. Of course still be engaging. Just don’t be vapid, pushy or click-baity.
  3. Make sure your white paper is full of “news you can use” (and insight your audience might want to share with colleagues) and isn’t just a thinly disguised sales brochure.
  4. Leave your readers with the impression that “this company really understands what I’m going through and has a way to make things easier on me.”
  5. Think about how your white paper might be repurposed into other content: A series of Tweets or a webinar, for example.

The objective, at the end of the day, is the same as with other types of content. You want to keep your company/product/orgnaization top of mind with key decision-makers. You’re looking for a good “excuse” to communicate … using information as a way to keep your audience engaged.

Still, there a real art and a science to writing a good white paper. Not every writer has the right touch … not just anyone can effectively balance the need to inform with the desire to influence a decision. But, done well, an effective white paper can generate more interest, good will and even advocacy than nearly any other type of communication.

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