Yesterday I talked about what White Papers can do for your business, and why they’re normally such an excellent investment. Today I’ll look at how you might go about writing them. If you’d like more information, I’d recommend Mitt Ray’s “How To Write a White Paper“, available free, or look at Michael Stelzner’s “Writing White Papers” website.
It’s important to nail down the title of the White Paper. If you don’t, you (or your writer) risk wandering off-topic. First, decide on the subject – the problem your reader might have, or the better way of doing something which they might be interested in: how to make a Blue Widget go faster without any loss of energy efficiency, or whatever. Then think up a working title which will describe the benefit of reading the paper. You might end up with something like “A ten-minute explanation of how to improve your machine’s performance without expending more energy, by using faster Blue Widgets”.
Before you start, ensure you have the benefits of your solution all listed, for subsequent inclusion in the text. Forget about the features of your product. All your reader wants to know about is “what’s in it for me?” Then, once the text is written, go through it and simplify it as much as possible. Even a technical audience doesn’t want to work hard deciphering complex terminology, at least not in a White Paper. Bear in mind that even if your audience is technical, they might need to refer the White Paper to someone who doesn’t have the same grasp of the subject. By all means, if the content is there, produce 10 pages or more, but equally, don’t be afraid to publish a 3-page White Paper.
Finally, get the finished product read by someone in sales as well as your technical expert, if you have two separate people!