Writing white papers

Writing white papers

Win them over with expertise

For businesses looking to generate leads in the B2B sector, a white paper can be a promising and legitimate content market tool. Companies should invest a certain amount of time in a white paper so as to achieve the desired effect of reaching a wide range of readers and potential new customers. You can’t write a good white paper casually on the side. What should you keep in mind when developing and writing a white paper? And what pitfalls are best avoided? Here is a brief overview:
Write about what you know. Knowledge creates authority and builds trust. You’re the expert! Share your knowledge! Being able to turn to an expert puts potential customers’ minds at ease.
The key to a successful white paper is sound information that provides true added value. No one is going to download your white paper if they can gain an overview of the subject matter on Google with just a few clicks.

Write for your target audience

A white paper presents its subject matter by backing it with sound knowledge. In terms of style, it resembles an academic or scientific publication by being precise and concise, but less technical and far easier to understand. The most important thing is to remain focused and address the defined target audience! It might make sense to adapt the introduction and/or individual sections or chapters to certain target sectors. Are you addressing engineers or technical experts? Then remain on their level. Explaining typical industry terminology in banal layman’s terms would be inappropriate. What they are looking for is in-depth technical knowledge. What kinds of technical innovations do you have to offer? What technical problem does your solution help to resolve?
Are you reaching out to staff in sales or purchasing? In that case, feel free to outline the basics of current measurement through electric resistance – the kind of stuff you learned in physics class at school – before moving on to ways of selecting electric precision resistors with just a few basic calculations based on the respective data sheet. For example, check out the white paper on the proper use of data sheets that we drew up for our client Isabellenhütte at https://bit.ly/2svKvVr. Build on your readers’ knowledge and desire for information. Decision makers want help making decisions, whereas engineers want comprehensive technical details.
When it comes to the length of a white paper, the key is to keep it short, but not too short. Ideally, however, your white paper should not be too long either. It is essential to address the subject matter in enough depth so as to provide information, yet it is also important to avoid repeating yourself.

It’s a paper, not a pitch

Now repeat after me: “NO ADVERTISING MUMBO JUMBO!!!” Print it out, write it down, and tattoo it on your forehead if need be! Avoid tooting your own horn, and don’t misuse the opportunity for advertising. Your readers and potential customers don’t want to hear that kind of thing. It will just make them discount your message as yet another publicity campaign and ruin your chance to reach them. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t showcase new products or innovations. If the product constitutes a new technical breakthrough that could simplify production processes, offer added value or provide a long-desired solution, then let your readers know about it! Skilfully mixing technical background information with just the right amount of product details and the benefits of the application will help you to remain on the safe side.

Looks matter

A trenchant abstract that gets people interested in downloading the PDF and clearly illustrates the benefits for the reader is just as much a part of a successful white paper as an appealing design in line with your company’s CI and a well-structured table of contents.

And, last but not least, don’t forget the pictures! Use photos, illustrations and diagrams to get your point across, and avoid verbal overload. Before going into detail on how to code the magnetic tape of a magnetic measuring system, why not use a chart or illustration to explain things far more simply? The illustration seen here comes from a white paper comparing optical and magnetic length and angle measurement systems that we wrote for our client SIKO, which is available at https://bit.ly/2Fs7V6y.

Image: ©SIKO GmbH

In conclusion, summing up expert knowledge in words in a manner designed to reach the particular target audience is always a special challenge. But the impact of white paper campaigns makes it worth the effort.