How to Write a White Paper: 5 Things Great White Papers Have in Common

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It may seem simple. Learning how to write a white paper should be easy. Just come up with a topic, do some research and write the content. But, there’s so much more to creating a white paper, especially if you want to create a white paper that engages your audience and actually gets shared.There are some steps that you can take to help craft up a killer white paper that resonates with your audience. Here are 5 things that all successful white papers have in common and if you follow these steps, you’ll be on your way to writing something great.

Targeted Content

Don’t just create content to create content.Have a purpose for writing your white paper. Before getting started, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is my audience
  • What information does my audience need
  • What does my audience like to read
  • What type of content does my audience consume
  • What’s the ultimate goal of this content (inform, engage, entertain)

Once you have answered the above questions, you should have a few different ideas in mind for your content topic.You’ll want to choose a topic that will answer a question for your audience. If you can help provide an answer to your audience’s question – they’ll learn to trust your brand and look to you for more answers.Plus, if you know that they are already interested in the topic, they’re more likely to share the content. Score!

Well-Researched

Did you know that B2B marketers only use white papers 68% of the time in their content marketing strategies? You’ll want to provide some important facts and figures in your white paper to support your topic; it helps build the credibility of the information you are sharing. By providing information from a reliable source, you are enhancing the point that you’re trying to make.

There’s so much content out there! How can you make your content different? Do your research and find out what information is out there and take a stance on it.Uncover something new and interesting for your industry.If you know the facts, you can make a strong point and back it up.

Relatable Topics

Like I mentioned above, try to choose a topic that is of interest to your audience.If you can address one of their pain points and provide a real answer for them, they’ll remember it. Plus, if you can support your point with real-life examples, that will only make your case stronger. Think about it this way, you can write a white paper to make a point and sell your services (or product) without necessarily telling someone to buy.Make a point, use an example and they’ll remember your successes and how you may be able to help them.

If you need some help coming up with topics for writing your white paper, there are a few things you can do to find out what your customers want / need to know:

  • Host a survey online (via email or social media) and ask your customers some basic questions
  • Speak to your current customers and ask them what information they wished they had known before buying your product or services
  • If you have a store-front, ask customers at check-out or while they’re in the store if they have any questions
  • Do some research around your industry and some frequently asked questions

By knowing what your potential and current customers are looking for, you can cater your content to fit their needs specifically.

Add Value

You can provide as much information as necessary, you can back it up with stats, and you can answer all of their questions, but give your audience something they can take away from your white paper. Whether you provide them with a checklist, a number of steps to take or even information that can help them in their buyer’s journey – you’ll want to make sure your white paper provides some real value to the reader.

Read through your white paper and highlight the key takeaways.What will your audience gain from reading this piece of content? If you can’t pinpoint that piece of information then maybe you should start over. You should have clear, actionable information in your white paper that will help your audience.

Be Cohesive

Does your white paper jump around from topic to topic? Is there a clear flow of information? Create a basic outline of your main points and then spend some time writing it all down without worrying about grammar and sentence structure. Then, once you get all of your content down – edit it thoroughly to make sure that it makes sense and is grammatically correct. Once you have your first version completed, share it with a few co-workers for their edits and input. In doing so, you’re opening up your content to new perspectives and new ideas that can enhance your white paper.

Overall, it’s not an easy task to write a white paper. Learning how to write a good white paper takes time and practice. To learn more about how to create a white paper, check out our 9 Steps to Creating an Engaging White Paper for some actionable tips to creating some killer content.


How to Write a White Paper

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Vicky Simpson

Director of Content Strategy
Vicky Simpson is the Director of Content Strategy at Customer Magnetism. Her days are filled with brainstorms, content creation and promotion. When she's not being creative for CM, she is baking cakes or walking her dog!

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