The main purpose of a white paper is to help clients who are seeking solutions for certain issues make informed decisions in favor of a product or a service a company is offering. White papers stand somewhere between an article and a promotional brochure. They contain useful information, show how a problem can be solved with the help of certain products or services, and they push readers towards purchasing those products or services. The topics for this type of writing tend to follow industry trends.
Usually the most pressing issues of certain activities influence the writing. A list of possible topics may include:. If you compose a catchy heading that represents the key problem your readers are interested in, it will make them want to read on. It is definitely not enough to know their sphere of activity, main duties, and a couple of company names. You must know your readers well enough that you are able to literally predict their every move.
Knowing small, but important facts about your audience and their needs will result in better sales. After they are done reading your white paper, most people will return back to their business. But, if you give them a hint about what to do further or a direction to move in, you can expect the results in the form of sales. Most customers care solely about solving their problems and may see your product only as one of various potential solutions.
Give them the solution and not the company information. Is English your native language? What is your profession? Student Teacher Writer Other. Academic Assignment Writing an Essay. Writing a Research Paper. Writing Guides for Students Writing a Memoir 2. Creative Writing Guides Writing a Song 3. Writing a Letter Writing an Evaluation Letter 3. Steps for Writing a White Paper Identify the main problem your audience is facing and form a solution to the problem.
Determine the competence of the audience. Choose the most acceptable style for your target audience. There are many cases you may need help when study; exams are coming, lack time to write anything, part-time job or family responsibilities are time-consuming.
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The best flavor to influence a selection committee at the bottom of the funnel is a backgrounder. IT people generally want to see technical details. They will tolerate longer papers with modest production values. In fact, a slick and colorful format tends to make them suspicious. Executives want to see bottom-line benefits summed up in a page or two. They want to hear about lower costs, better sales, higher profits or improved customer service.
Executives expect polished production, with clear graphics they can understand at a glance. Managers want to hear about streamlined workflow and labor savings. They are keen to see how a new system would affect their area and their people.
User reps want to hear about ease-of-use, training and support. They can be more or less technical, but they will likely be detail-oriented. Users are not often a significant audience for white papers. But if a user rep is involved in a selection committee, you need to address their concerns at some point. A mixed audience or selection committee may want to hear everything touched on above.
In this case, you may need several white papers, each with a different flavor and each with content geared to a somewhat different audience.
And there are "soft costs" in terms of the time it takes your subject matter experts to answer interview questions and e-mails and to review drafts. All this to say, a white paper is a significant project in any marketing budget.
Trying to do a white paper on a tiny budget will not yield best results. After working on white papers, in my experience it takes 6 to 8 weeks to get from the first planning interview to an approved white paper draft. And it can take longer if people travel a lot or take their time with reviews. Illustration and design take an additional week or two.
Translations, if required, take more time. The good news is that a vendor can often continue to use the same white paper for years. This long life helps to achieve a very positive return on the investment in a white paper. In fact, the best way to promote a white paper is to handle it as a mini-product launch. Do everything you would do to launch a new product, and your white paper will be on the road to success. See my article on the 18 must-do tactics to promote any white paper.
Remember, a white paper is a pre-sales document intended to attract prospects or explain an offering. Any B2B vendor selling anything relatively new, relatively complex or relatively costly could likely benefit from a white paper.
Writing your very first white paper for a company you don't know well, in an industry you've never written about, can be quite a challenge. Writing your fifth white paper for a long-term client in an industry you know is not so difficult. If you understand the material and work well with others, writing a white paper can be smooth and enjoyable. All in all, writing a white paper is no harder than writing a major magazine article of several thousand words.
That means one to two weeks full-time should be enough to complete a white paper Like any corporate writing project, you must allow time for interviews, research, outlining, drafting and perhaps coming up with diagrams. A client will expect a few progress reports.
And you will have to incorporate their comments into your drafts. If you manage this process well, writing a white paper can be smooth and efficient. If not, it can turn into a never-ending project that drags on and on and on and on and on and on Obviously, if you have specialized knowledge about a niche market, you can charge more than a generalist who will need more time and ask more questions to get up to speed.
The most effective strategy is to head off these problems before they happen, by planning and managing a white paper to yield the best possible results. Submit short deliverables for discussion , like a creative brief or a one-page outline, before you start writing a page document.
Get your client or company to make a tangible commitment to completing a white paper. For example, freelance writers can get a partial payment in advance; in-house writers can get an okay to forego other duties writing the document. Work closely with the designer and make sure they understand the white paper format.
You're welcome to explore them all. After that, to take part in a forum where white paper writers post and answer related questions, visit my LinkedIn group, called Get More From Your White Papers. This group is by request only and sticks strictly to white papers. Any off-topic discussions such as "where do I find clients? I crammed 15 years' worth of tips and tactics into it. You can see what reviewers are saying about it here or check out the book at Amazon here.
Then, once you start writing white papers, publish good samples and testimonials on your website. And keep doing whatever works for you. For more in-depth information on this topic see my articles: To get clients, learn how to call a moose and Writers: Five strategies for finding white paper clients. I've tracked back the earliest ancestors of the white paper to UK government reports from the late 19th century.
It was used to distinguish shorter government briefs and position papers with white covers from longer reports and policy books with blue covers. I have located white papers from the UK dating back to the late s.
I am still searching for the earliest one on file in the UK government archives. One of the earliest white papers many people point to is the so-called Churchill White Paper from See more background at www. With the rise of the PC in the 80s, white papers started to become extremely popular in the IT industry. And in the 90s, the Web provided an inexpensive distribution channel that sparked today's ongoing explosion of white papers.
That's because truly effective white papers are highly read and passed on from person to person. They have a major impact on buying decisions for billions of dollars worth of products and services every year.
Although these formats can offer a more engaging experience for certain audiences, they require higher budgets and different production methods. And it's not useful to call these "white papers" since they are not delivered as text on paper. Those who call some other medium a "white paper" are likely trying to trade off the popularity and impact of these documents.
For a longer discussion, see my article " When is a white paper NOT a white paper? If you have any questions about white papers not answered here, or you find an answer isn't clear, please e-mail Gordon ThatWhitePaperGuy.
Are there any industry standards for these? Aren't there at least some conventions? What different types of white papers exist?
When is each type of white paper most useful? What's NOT a white paper? White papers and other documents White papers and blog posts: White papers and brochures: White papers and case studies: White papers and e-books: White papers and press releases: White paper readers Who reads white papers?
Why do people read white papers? When do people read white papers? How do people read white papers? White paper sponsors Who publishes white papers? Why do companies produce them? Where do white papers fit in the sales cycle? Which type of white paper should your firm create? How much does a white paper cost? How long does a white paper take? How do you promote a white paper? White paper writers What kind of companies need white papers?
How hard is it to write a white paper? How long does it take to write a white paper? How much can you charge to write a white paper? What main problems do white paper writers encounter? How can you learn more about white papers? Where do you find clients?
White papers past, present, and future Where did white papers come from? Where are white papers today? Where are white papers going in the future? Back to top What exactly is a white paper? Ask any 10 people this question, and you'll likely get 12 different answers. Here is the best short definition I've ever found, after years of looking: Beyond that, I've heard a white paper described as: A manifesto on how to solve a certain problem A "bait-piece" The glue that holds a campaign together An information widget A way to freeze-dry ideas A rare document that can be all things to all people Clearly none of these exotic definitions do the trick.
For some better clues, look at the content and format of these documents: In a word, no. Anyone can call anything a white paper.
Writing a White Paper The main purpose of a white paper is to help clients who are seeking solutions for certain issues make informed decisions in favor of a product or a service a company is offering.
This means writing a summary of your white paper and including an organized list of topics. Emphasize the value you will create. Your white paper is not a billboard for your business—it is an opportunity to create an image of expertise and insight that will help your readers. In return, they may buy from you later.
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I hope these Q&As help anyone just getting started in white papers. Or anyone who wants to understand them better. White Paper FAQ topics. If you understand the material and work well with others, writing a white paper can be smooth and enjoyable. If not quite the reverse. Are you concerned with a question who can help write my paper? Need high-quality texts for high grades? Find best experts and reasonable prices.