In the digital age – where marketing tools like social media and video get so much attention – we think an oft-overlooked marketing document is ripe for a comeback.
Whitepapers have been used for many years as a form of content marketing. Generally speaking, whitepapers are designed to convey certain facts and arguments that build a case for the products or services being offered by the company that has produced the whitepaper.
Let’s take a look at whitepapers, and some best practices to help you get these valuable pieces done right.
1. Set the right tone
Your whitepapers should be written in conversational tone … and in the third person.
There are fewer and fewer situations that require a very formal tone. As our conversations get more casual, our writing follows. Exercising restraint is important, however, as whitepapers are fairly “academic,” and are often read by people who are well-versed in the topic.
2. Solve the right problem
Writing a whitepaper may be one of the most challenging marketing exercises, so make sure the problem you are solving is one that your audience truly wants solved.
To make sure your topic engages your readers, do a little research into their needs. Survey your sales team, research online and, if you have the relationships and resources, talk to your clients directly. Remember to focus your whitepaper on your topic, and not on your product. Product-focused materials are usually considered “brochureware.”
3. Use third-party facts
Back up your points and arguments with some facts – and make sure these facts aren’t all from your in-house team.
This is where we come across one of the most significant limitations of whitepapers: they tend to take more time to produce than other materials. If possible, you should include some independent research to support your findings. This will enhance the credibility of your work.
4. Let your designers run wild
Whitepaper doesn’t mean “blankpaper” or “boring paper.” Luckily for you, not everyone knows this, so design is a way to stand out from the crowd.
Make your whitepaper look professional and easy to read, use a larger font, don’t crowd the copy, and experiment with design elements and themes that break up the whitespace.
5. Incorporate graphs, charts and infographics
Amid your facts and findings, well-crafted visual aids will help keep your reader’s attention.
Every data point can be backed up with an engaging chart or graph. We think whitepapers are begging for infographics. Since you’ll have so much data to work with, it should be fairly simple to create some easy-to-read infographics that will surely engage your audience.
6. Leverage your hard work
Remember that, once it’s created, your whitepaper can be leveraged for other uses. Breaking up key points and figures into individual newsletter or blog articles allows you to continue to engage your audience with your findings and to stretch out this valuable content over weeks and months.