Most companies know what a white paper is, and how to write one, but few know how to do it well. If your white paper isn't planned well, it's not going to be a success. Here's a look at some of the most common problems people encounter with their white papers, and what you can do to avoid them.
Problem #1: Not Having A Call to Action
The general definition of a white paper is a document that helps the reader understand a issue, solve a problem, or make a decision. But the purpose of a white paper is to get your reader to act on that information. If you present your information, but don't tell the reader what to do with it, you've wasted your time. The conclusion of your paper should be a short, simple summary of what you've said with a reason why it's important, and it should include a call to action (what the reader should do next).
Problem #2: Using Your White Paper As A Sales Pitch While the end goal of a white paper is ultimately sales, this shouldn't be apparent from the beginning. A white paper should serve as a source of information for the reader. If you have too hard of a sales pitch, it will turn the reader off. But if you present the reader with a problem, then a way to solve that problem, they're much more likely to act on that information.
Problem #3: Not Proving Your Claims
In a white paper, you're presenting the reader with information about why your product or service will benefit them. To prove this, you'll likely be making a few claims along the way, and providing some facts and figures. If you don't back these claims up with verifiable information, there's a good chance your readers won't trust you. But if you back up your claims with verifiable facts, a reader will believe what you're saying (and what you're selling).
Problem #4 Trusting the Wrong Person to Write Your White Paper
A white paper can be one of the most vital sales tools a company has. But all too often, the task of writing it falls to the new person in the company, the intern, or the person who took a few writing classes in college. While people in your company will be familiar with what you're selling, they may not be familiar with the best way to convey that information in writing. Let a writing expert handle this job, or even a professional writing service. Ask to see white paper examples in the application process, and choose a writer who is accurate, experienced, and talented.
When you let a professional handle the job of writing your white paper, you're making sure that the job is done right the first time. You're putting the very best of what your company has to offer in the hands of someone that knows how to sell it in writing, and someone who knows how to make your company look good.