How to Create a White Paper: 5 Tips To Do It Right

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White papers are an integral part of your B2B and even B2C content strategy. In this blog, our expert team provides you with five tips to help you create high-quality white papers to showcase your products and services.

What is a White Paper?

Before we jump right in and give you the tips, we thought it be good for you to have some background information on white papers. Many brands we've found still don’t quite understand what a white paper is. It is not a blank piece of white paper lying on your desk!

A white paper is an authoritative in-depth report or guide that presents a problem and provides a solution. It helps your readers with three aspects: understand an issue, solve an issue, and make a decision.  

FACT: White papers Educate, Persuade, and Inform readers without being a sales pitch.

Are White Papers Boring and Dry?

Many people believe that white papers are boring and dry, and so no-one reads them. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. At least not if they are done well and are engaging, informative, and interesting to read. If they are all just jargon and corporate talk then indeed, they are boring and dry.

But white papers when done well have so much potential for being a fantastic form of content for both B2B and B2C. We honestly believe that the time has come for the white paper to be rebranded and marketed better, so it loses its negative image. This will help a lot with promoting a white paper.

FACT: By adding engaging content along with visuals like infographics a boring white paper is instantly transformed into something exciting that consumers want to read and share.

Is a White Paper Just a Standard in B2B?

White papers are indeed a standard in many B2B industries like aviation, defence, education, law enforcement, and IT. Aside from B2B, they are also found in B2C, B2D, and even CDB.

Long before the digital era, they were produced in paper format. Now that they’ve gone digital, they can be downloaded. However, some brands still produce both a digital and paper version of their white paper.

FACT: White papers are a crucial part of a content marketing strategy for B2B They are downloaded just as much if not more than eBooks in many instances, so they yield a high ROI for B2B.

Why is it Called a White Paper?

You may wonder how white papers got their name. After all, they could have been called red papers, green papers, etc. Well, you see the term ‘white paper’ originated when government papers were colour -coded to indicate distribution.

White was assigned for public access. Generally, in government red was and still is assigned for ‘top secret’/’private access.’ Many brands follow a similar train of thought. They have papers for public access and papers that are only for internal access.

FACT: Amongst B2B buyers, white papers are more likely to be shared than other content – blogs, videos, social media, etc.

What are the Benefits of Writing a White Paper?

There are various benefits to writing a white paper for your brand which consist of the following:

  • Lead generation – through their high conversion rate
  •  Expertise and thought leadership – help establish you as a credible voice in your field
  • Help with generating backlinks – with credibility and expertise comes a certain degree of respect. This makes it easier to gain backlinks.
  • Build your mailing list – readers of your white paper are more likely to subscribe to your emails and blog if you have one.
  • Accommodate original research - publishing your own original research, thoughts, and ideas elevates your brand and gives you a competitive edge in your field.
  •  Overall better brand awareness and presence – due to the benefits listed!

Elevate your White Paper for Good with our Expert Tips

Here at WORD EMPIRE®, we know a thing or two about white papers and can spot a high- quality white paper from a more inferior one. So, to help you create your white paper we’ve put together these five expert tips.

Tip 1: Use Story Telling in your White Paper

Storytelling is an important element of good content and marketing for brands these days. Storytelling is such an integral part of how we do business as humans are natural born storytellers and so naturally connect with stories.

All brands have a story to tell. When it comes to your white paper you want to leverage storytelling and use it to your advantage. It will add colour and depth to your white paper and hence make it more readable and engaging. To use story- telling in your white paper consider:

  • Sharing the story behind your brand. The who, what, when, when, and the how.
  • Sharing anecdotes.
  • Sharing your struggles and triumphs.
  • Showcasing prototypes of your product at different stages.
  • Presenting case studies.
  • Using metaphors and analogies.
  • Adding nice visuals to complement storytelling – infographics, tables, images, etc.

Tip 2: Take a Journalistic Approach to your White Paper

Taking a journalist approach in your white paper is essentially all about doing a thorough investigation of the issue being discussed and presenting an objective 360- degree view of the issue. This allows your readers to make an informed decision.

Remember the purpose of any white paper no matter the industry is to present a problem and then provide a solution to that problem. There should be no beating around the bush or any second guessing. Your white paper must be clear and to the point with what it is you are discussing. To adopt a journalist approach for your white paper, consider:

  • Starting with your target audience in mind – know who exactly you’re writing for.
  • Having a clear purpose- don’t just write a white paper for the sake of it or because other brands are doing it. Your white paper must have a purpose behind it.
  • Conducting rigorous research – without research you’ll come across as less credible and this taints your reputation and brand.
  • Use the journalist’s formula of the 5 W’s and 1 H in writing up your white paper- Who, What, When, Where, Why & How.

Tip 3: Drop the Corporate Speak in White Papers

One of the worst things you could do in your white paper is to speak ‘corporate talk’ (boring and dry). This is what turns people away from white papers and gives them a bad name. Unfortunately, so many brands still don’t understand this, especially B2B brands. 

For the most part, they still speak corporate in their white papers. It's okay to have some jargon in there, but if all your white paper is corporate, you’ll turn readers away. Just put yourself in the shoes of your reader- would you read a 304-page dry B2B report? We think not! So, to drop the corporate speak in your white paper consider:

  • Presenting an interesting and even unique point of view on an issue.
  • Being credible in your voice but also being engaging (having personality & flair).
  • Having nice visuals to complement the text- graphs, infographics, colour, etc.
  • Addressing reader’s frustrations and pain points in a timely manner.
  • Presenting a purposeful story – problem, solution, outcome.

Tip 4: Show But Don’t Sell in White Papers

A white paper shouldn’t be a sales pitch, so you should drop the marketing language and just let your brand do the selling for you. Just showcase your brand and the solution you have to offer for a problem in a meaningful and engaging way.

Being ‘salesy’ in a white paper is a sure way of turning readers off. Remember people hate being sold to and this especially rings true for white papers. To show but not sell in your white paper consider:

  • Remove any language that hints at selling eg: best solution, best offer, limited time, etc.
  • Have a CTA at the end but one which directs readers to your brand but not to buying your solution or product.

Tip 5: Package your White Paper Right

The final package (what your readers get) should be well- designed – a nice looking book. Great design will help increase its engagement with readers. After all, you could have the best content in the world for your white paper but if the design is poor so will be the engagement.

Remember to keep the design consistent with your brand for recognition and credibility. To package your white paper well consider:

  • Using charts, graphs, color, and other visuals.
  • Having a nice layout that is easy on the eyes.
  • Having plenty of white space for the background.
  • Having good structure – beginning, middle, and end with a table of contents.
  • Impeccable spelling and grammar.

FACT: It’s never been easier to design white papers in this digital age thanks to tools like Canva which offer you high quality designs even with a FREE account.

Need help with your B2B or B2C white paper? WORD EMPIRE® will help you with it along with any other content & marketing needs you require. Contact Us Today.