What Is a Whitepaper and Why Do You Need It?
Whitepapers serve different purposes from industry to industry. In politics, whitepapers are legislative documents issued in support of political solutions. In tech, they illustrate how a new technology works and outlines its key features. Even in business, whitepapers have varied purposes, with writers tailoring them for different audiences and uses.
With such applications, it can be difficult for marketers to create whitepapers optimized for their business. In this article, we will discuss everything you must know about whitepapers and why you need them for your business.
What Is a Whitepaper?
A whitepaper is a persuasive, in-depth, authoritative report targeted at a specific problem. It enables marketers to discuss problems the target audience must deal with regularly. After outlining key issues, marketers explain or promote a methodology as a solution to those issues.
In summary, whitepapers are advanced problem-solving guides. They are designed to provide readers with maximum value, giving them insight into how professionals and experts approach a problem. By providing value to readers, whitepapers motivate them to share personal information such as their name, email address, etc.
Why Do We Need Whitepapers?
Whitepapers are filled with useful information or practical advice from experts. However, they can also be boring to some readers. Truthfully, people don’t read whitepapers because they are exciting or graphically decorated. Instead, they read whitepapers to learn something new, build their knowledge, or to gain new insights before making a decision.
In essence, a whitepaper is a knowledge-sharing tool written by industry experts. It is authoritative, informative, and particularly detailed. Ultimately, it motivates decision makers to confidently make future purchases. It is also extremely useful for sales teams. Whitepapers educate prospects on key issues in the industry and, thus, build trust and credibility among your readers.
Likewise, whitepapers are great for gathering leads and prospects. When people download whitepapers from your website, they share personal information such as emails, pushing them further into the customer buying cycle. Ultimately, leads and prospects gathered through whitepapers can later be converted to customers through careful marketing and advertising.
Is a Whitepaper a Product Pitch?
No. Despite what most marketers think, a whitepaper is not a product pitch. It’s true that Investopedia defines whitepapers as informational documents highlighting or promoting a service, product, or solution. However, in reality, blatantly marketing your own product in a whitepaper dissuades readers. A whitepaper must promote products or services solely based on evidence and facts.
What Makes a Good Whitepaper?
A whitepaper has no minimum requirements, since it doesn’t have a standard definition and serves varied purposes across different industries. Technically, people can call anything a whitepaper. However, to become an effective marketer, you must optimize whitepapers based on the following recommendations:
Ideally, your whitepaper should consist of more than six pages. This includes charts, references, and illustrations. However, if the topic demands excessive information and in-detail analysis, you may write a whitepaper upwards of 50 pages.
A whitepaper usually consists of title or cover page, followed up by a table of contents and a short executive summary that briefly describes your organization or business. Executive summaries are optional, but useful for introducing your business to readers.
After listing document formalities, you must include an introduction where you briefly mention the problem. You can then follow up with several pages educating the audience about the problem.
Once you concisely define the problem, you must dedicate the following pages to hypothesize a solution. After you lay out the possible solution(s), you must offer the example of a company that benefitted from the suggested methodology. Finally, you conclude the whitepaper by outlining key takeaways from the document.
Whitepaper Template Outline
- Title Page or Cover
- Table of Contents
- Short Executive Summary (Optional)
- Introduction (Problem Statement)
- Hypothesized Solution
- Examples of Users Benefitting from the Proposed Solution
Unlike ebooks, whitepapers are not easy to skim. They are packed with information. Don’t be surprised if your audience must read them more than once to gain every key insight effectively.
Ideally, white papers must be formatted in portrait orientation (8.5″ by 11″) and saved as PDFs.
Whitepapers are meant for professionals, so it only makes sense to write whitepapers in a serious, professional, logical tone. Hire a graphic designer to create informative graphics, charts, and images to attract readers.
A whitepaper must present information in a well-written and user-friendly manner. This is why you must ensure your whitepaper is thoroughly edited by experts.
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