How to Write a White Paper [The Ultimate Guide for 2021]

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If you are searching for a proper solution to present and promote your company’s service or product, but you don’t want a direct sales pitch, a white paper is what you need.

This article will show you how to write a white paper and all the necessary things you should be aware of when creating it.

Get comfy and let’s dive in!

What Is a White Paper?

A white paper (or “whitepaper”) is an in-depth report or guide on a certain topic and any related issues. Its purpose is to educate readers and try to help them to comprehend and solve a problem.

Today, white papers are frequently used in the fields of politics, business, and technology to discuss challenges, potential problems, and solutions.

In the world of marketing, a white paper is often compared to an ebook, however, white papers are more technical and in-depth. The opinions and facts expressed in white papers are usually backed by original statistics or research which the publisher has collected from reliable sources. A good white paper example will include visual data such as tables, graphs, and charts.

What Is the Purpose of a White Paper?

The typical purpose of a white paper is to inform, educate, and either promote a certain service/product or recommend a solution for a given problem. When creating a white paper for commercial purposes, bear in mind that it should impact the decision-making process of current and potential clients.

There are several types of white papers that you can choose from in order to reach your goals. Let’s take a closer look.

Types of White Papers

There are several types of white papers:

The Educational White Paper

The educational white paper should teach the readers things they aren’t familiar with. It can serve as inbound marketing, as it can help people who are searching online for answers.

When writing white papers you need to make sure the information you share is useful and will keep the readers engaged.

For instance, you can share:

  • How to do something
  • The right way of doing something
  • An in-depth analysis of something

When writing an educational white paper, you are effectively teaching, so it needs to be very clear and easy to follow. In order to attract the reader’s attention, you should consider using:

  • Descriptive headings and bullet points
  • Diagrams/graphs when suitable
  • Reliable references

By citing trustworthy sources you reassure the reader that you are providing accurate information.

The Problem-Solving White Paper

In this format of a white paper, you should present your original approach to solving a specific problem. It has to be useful and should have some kind of formula or step-by-step guide on how to deal with an issue. Also, with this kind of white paper, you can promote your company’s services or products that can serve as a solution to the given problem.

The Technical White Paper

When you write a technical white paper, you should explain a problem and a tech-based solution to that problem. Here the focus is on the technicalities of a specific service or product and they are aimed at someone who would use it on a day-to-day basis.

You should give thorough technical information, as well as explain what your service or product is for, how it works, and how to implement it. You can include case studies (to show credibility) and diagrams.

The Market Research White Paper

If you use your own research in a marketing white paper you can both educate and demonstrate your thought leadership to the readers. It is great for PR as well. A marketing white paper should contain lots of data that will be analyzed. It usually begins with a long executive summary.

There are two approaches to writing a research white paper:

  1. Make a presentation of your findings and key trends.
  2. Back up an argument that you wish to make using your data.

DID YOU KNOW: In 2018, 71% of B2B buyers have used white papers to research purchasing decisions.

How to Write a White Paper?

When done right, white papers can generate new potential clients and entice them to consider your services and products.

Here are some basic rules on how to write a good white paper. Let’s check them out:

Choose the Right Topic

Choose the topic wisely! Find a topic in your industry that hasn’t been elaborated on in a white paper yet or a topic which you can explain better than your competitors.

You can start by searching for examples of your competitors’ white papers. Think about the problems you have in your industry and find industry-related content such as videos, podcasts, webinars, and blog posts. But remember, you should write about topics that you have expertise in. A white paper should be an authoritative piece of content.

Choose Your Audience

Always consider your audience’s needs. When writing a white paper, follow the format and do more research on the potential buyers, which will help you figure out who is going to read your white paper. This can also help you decide what problem you are going to solve and how you are going to present it to the audience when it is complete.

Write an Enticing Headline

In the headline, include the problem that your paper will help the reader solve and mention the benefit that he will get from reading it.

Make your headline active and include a number, such as: “8 Steps to Boost B2B Sales”. If you want to be more descriptive, don’t forget to add a subtitle.

Write a White Paper Outline

Outline the white paper and list what the reader will find in it. For instance:

  • Introduction (describe the topic of the white paper)
  • The challenge (what’s the top point for your audience)
  • An overview (explain what you’ll highlight and define the terms you’re going to use in the white paper)
  • The body (where you’ll discuss the subject matter, its solutions, data, and statistics)
  • Conclusion (summarize what the reader has learned)
  • A call-to-action (the next step that you want the client to take)

It’s always a good idea to use grammar checkers when editing the final draft of your paper. Making sure your paper’s grammar is excellent is an important step to ensure that what you have to say will sound professional and convincing.

Write a Summary

Write a short summary of what your white paper is about. It can be placed on the landing page or in an overview section in the white paper itself. You can choose a bulleted list or write it in the form of a short paragraph.

Create a Captivating Design

An eye-catching design for the business white paper is always a good idea. You can either collaborate with a web design company or you can use tools like PicMonkey, Photoshop, or Canva to design the white paper cover.

Design it in a way that will highlight the main points.

Illustrate the data and statistics with graphs and charts. You can search for well-designed white paper ideas here.

Write a Catchy Landing Page

In order to promote it online, you need a memorable landing page where customers can download your white paper. Make sure there’s a form where clients can provide you with their basic information (name, job title, and email) so they can receive the white paper in their inbox.

A picture of the cover along with an executive summary which will briefly explain what is the benefit of your white paper is a great choice for a landing page.

What Mistakes Should You Avoid When Writing a White Paper?

Even though writing a white paper is not rocket science, you must be careful and avoid these common mistakes which will cost you a lot of time:

Not Enough Research

You can influence potential clients with well-researched data and expert opinions. That’s why you should include information and stats backed up by authoritative sources.

A White Paper That Sounds Like a Sales Pitch

The main purpose of white paper writing is to educate the reader about a given topic. Even though it can be a strong marketing tool, a white paper functions as a soft sell that persuades potential customers by educating them about the service, product, technology, or methodology. People have to deal with a lot of advertisements daily, most of which they ignore, so make sure that your white paper doesn’t turn into a sales pitch.

A perfect white paper format should consist of 80% education content and 20% direct sales messaging.

Poor Design

A good design is just as important as good writing. No matter how useful and important the content might be if it is boring, the attention of the reader won’t last long.

Incorporate interesting images and professional-looking graphics to keep readers engaged.

Not Adapting Your White Paper to Your Prospective Buyer’s Needs

Perhaps you aligned your white paper with your own business goals, but if you neglect what your target audience wants to know and read, your white paper will not succeed.

If you want to write a white paper that is effective, your focus should be on your target audience’s needs, problems and goals. Make sure to target content for customers in every phase of your sales cycle.

DID YOU KNOW: A recent survey has shown that 93% of marketing professionals have participated in a failed white paper project.

How Long Should the White Paper Be?

Generally, the accepted consensus is that 3,000 words are a good starting point.

If you have above 5,000 words, you should ask yourself:

  • Am I diving too deep?
  • Could a professional editor make the text more concise and clear?
  • Would it be better to split the subject into a series of white papers?

If you have difficulty reaching even 3,000 words, think about:

  • Would it be better to write an ebook on the subject?
  • Maybe a professional writer will provide other white paper guidelines that you might have overlooked?

In a nutshell, you need to make sure your white paper is long enough to deliver value.

DID YOU KNOW: The term “white paper” originated in England and derives from government-issued documents. The Churchill White Paper is a famous example, commissioned by Winston Churchill in 1922.

Conclusion

A white paper will help you in establishing your company as an authority in its field and provide a rapport with potential clients. Instead of advertising a particular service or product, with a white paper, you can provide an academic, balanced perspective on an issue while simply suggesting that your business has expertise in this field. A business white paper is a perfect way to showcase skills and win new clients.

FAQ

What is a white paper in business?

In business, a white paper is a form of marketing presentation that helps persuade partners and promote a product or viewpoint. As a marketing tool, white papers use logical arguments and facts to build a case beneficial to the company sponsoring the document.

What is a white paper in education?

In the sphere of education, a white paper is a report on a particular topic that introduces a problem and gives a solution. For instance, a public school district might want to promote the benefits of public school education with a white paper.

How to write a white paper for marketing?

When writing for marketing, you need to make sure that you know how to write a white paper. A white paper for marketing is not a sales pitch! You need to give your audience educational information that will help them, not try to persuade them.

ABOUT AUTHOR

When she couldn’t decide between being a nurse, a psychotherapist, and a financial genius, Ofelia decided to do all three. Her interests run far and wide, and she loves researching about everything you get to read on our website. Credit cards or top-notch software, she’s here to tell it all like it is.

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