White papers are often perceived as the more serious older sibling of the eBook. As such, it’s not uncommon for white papers to be—well, boring. But that doesn’t have to be the case. White papers are among most requested resource formats of B2B buyers. They should be in-depth, enlightening, and also: interesting.
If not a boring version of an eBook, what is a white paper? Here’s HubSpot’s definition:
A white paper is a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution. This is an outline for how to create a white paper that converts, complete with tips on optimizing. Let’s get started.
A great title is the cornerstone to a successful white paper. It’s what draws an audience in and provides an initial idea of what to expect from your work. Consider these tactics to create a title that stands out:
- Consider who the audience is, and their greatest pain points and interests that are addressed in the white paper.
- Be bold, but ensure your title represents what is truly in the white paper.
- Unless you work in a highly technical industry, avoid buzzwords and stick to clear and easy-to-understand language.
- Consider search engine optimization during title creation.
- Analyze which white paper titles already exist in your industry to get an idea of what works and how you can differentiate yourself.
The abstract should grab a reader’s attention and convince them the whole paper is worth their time to read. It should be clear, concise, and hard-hitting. The following actions will help ensure an effective abstract:
- Write the abstract after you have completed the white paper.
- Include the most attention-getting findings, insights, and recommendations from the white paper.
- Keep the abstract between 150 to 250 words.
- Put the abstract on the title page.
- Ensure that the abstract answers the following questions:
- What is included in this white paper?
- Why should I read this white paper?
- What are the white paper’s conclusions and recommendations?
Use the table of contents as an outline for constructing the first draft of a white paper. The table of contents should include an introduction section, sections on background/problem statement, solution, conclusion, and additional resources.
If you’ve done a good job creating the title and abstract of a white paper, then your readers will be ready to dive into the story. The introduction should alert readers to the problem, need, or pain point that is the basis of the white paper, as well as the related solution. Just as in the abstract, you need to pique your audience’s interest in the introduction and entice them to read further. To create a great introduction you need to:
- Set up the problem, need or pain point right up front.
- Grab your reader’s attention in the first sentence or two.
- Use data to support your point(s).
- Provide additional detail to what is included in the abstract.
- Introduce a framework that may be used throughout the white paper, or may even provide background into the topic.
- Indicate the objective(s) of the white paper, as well as what specifically will be included in subsequent sections.
The section following the introduction should expand on the overview in the introduction. It should thoroughly define the problem statement.
Sample questions to be answered in this section:
- What is currently happening in the market today? I.e., What’s the current situation?
- What are companies and/or individuals most struggling with, and why?
- What are the specific problems, needs, and/or pain points?
- What are the potential benefits of addressing these problems, needs, and/or pain points?
- Which data points help to support answers to the above questions?
- Which frameworks and/or models could enhance readers’ understanding of this information?
A succinct description of the most impactful solutions has been provided in the Abstract. And there’s an overview of these solutions in the Introduction. The Solution section provides the opportunity to get into solution specifics.
- Introduce the solution(s), including a clear definition and even a framework or model.
- Provide a detailed description of each part of the solution, and clear benefits for each solution.
- Target your solutions to different segments of your audience.
- Provide specific, real-world examples to support your solution(s).
- Create a figure and/or table as a stand-alone sheet to help readers visualize your solution(s).
Here’s an example:
SOURCE: Business Blogging Secrets Revealed
The conclusion provides the opportunity to:
- Summarize the white paper objectives.
- Review the problem statement(s).
- Highlight the solutions and their value for your audience. Be clear regarding how these solutions address the problem statement(s).
- Finish with a strong statement. This could include a vision of future solutions; how your audience can develop new solutions on their own, or where your audience can go for addition information and/or resources.
- Formatting and coloring: Create a consistent color scheme based on the color of your logo. Use the most dominant color for your section headers. Use a softer version or a shade of gray as the subhead color. Use these same colors throughout all visual elements of your white paper such as charts, graphs or figures.
- Grammar and editing: Correct spelling and grammar elevates your message and reinforces your company’s credibility.
- Promote other assets: Link to your other content marketing assets in the white paper. These could be other white papers, eBooks, or blog posts.
- Curate expert content: Substantiate your message by including content from experts on the topic. For a guide to ethical curation, download Curata’s eBook on the topic: Content Marketing Done Right.
White papers are among most requested resource formats of B2B buyers. Though they require a decent amount of legwork, they can also be the most effective. With these tips, you can efficiently create a whitepaper that builds trust in your brand, generates leads, and drives revenue.
Download Customer Experience Simplified to discover how to provide customer experiences that are managed as carefully as the product, the price, and the promotion of the marketing mix.