8 Ways to Write Wicked Whitepapers
A whitepaper is document that helps someone understand a product or a problem. White papers are usually less than 10 pages long, and aim to answer some of the more common questions regarding a specific subject.
Whitepapers are easily downloadable and found all over the web. They are usually used to encourage people to hand over data, and are given in return, for example, you may need to enter your email address before the whitepaper becomes available.
At first glance it may seem that only big companies with lots of money and resources to spare can create white papers, but don’t be put off. Anyone can make one, and it doesn’t take a great amount of time or money.
A successful white paper can help your business generate leads, build company buzz and attention and level the playing field with those big companies.
If you are creating a whitepaper, here are some tips:
1. Provide information
The whole point of a whitepaper is to inform. To help find a topic ask:
- What problems do your customers experience?
- What problems do you help them with?
- What advice do you give them?
For example, consider Eric the electrician. Eric finds problems including dodgy light fittings, poor connections and blown fuses. What if Eric created a whitepaper entitled ‘Common electrical problems – and how you can fix them’. He can then promote the whitepaper on social media sites, his website, on business cards, or even on the side of his van. Eric now stands out from the rest of the crowd and he appears more likeable and trustworthy as he’s giving valuable advice away – for free!
2. Don’t make it too sales-y
Don’t allow your whitepaper to become a sales pitch. An effective whitepaper provides answers to burning or common questions.
If you send out sales pitches, you’ll waste a perfect opportunity to get known and trusted. Once people like and trust you, they will then buy from you.
3. Write in a conversational tone
Don’t be afraid of writing. There’s no need to use fancy words and great long sentences. You’re looking to sound authentic, friendly and helpful. Write in the way you would speak, like this post.
You may want to find an editor if you’d like someone to smooth out the cracks, or just ask a colleague to give it a once over for any mistakes or suggestions.
4. Present proof for your claims
If you make a claim, you need something to back it up. There’s no point in saying ‘We’re the best in the South of England!’ if you aren’t. This leads to distrust.
Dig up some facts, figures or quotes from experts or reliable sources. If Eric (the electrician) says half of homeowners can save money on their electric bills – then a link to an article from a reputable source should be included.
5. Design it correctly
The whitepaper should be attractive and easy to read, which may need to be designed by a professional if you don’t have an in house team.
Images and graphics that highlight key points from the text are useful, and break up pages of text. A cover photo also makes the whitepaper look appealing. Create one, or buy one from a stock image site.
6. Come up with a snappy title
The title is what users will see when they search for the whitepaper. This means it must be search engine friendly (clear, concise, original), and should catch the reader’s eye.
Make your title interesting with a bold statement, a question or a promise. Come up with a list of three, and test them on customers and colleagues.
7. Consider avoiding the word ‘whitepaper’
In some industries, such as the marketing industry for example, whitepapers are everywhere. Almost every company offers whitepapers, and the sector can become saturated with reports being given for free left, right and centre.
Call your document a ‘special report’ or even an ‘eBook’ if it’s on the long side.
8. Promote it!
If you stick your whitepaper directly on your website, it won’t be seen. You need to promote it. Promote your whitepaper on your blog, newsletter and across every social media site you can get your hands on. Consider sending a press release to local media firms to announce the creation of the latest report. You need to get your whitepaper seen by as many people as possible.