A white paper is one of the most powerful tools a company can have for marketing and sales. It is used to inform, educate, and persuade potential customers about an idea, topic, perspective or product. They are usually a great top-of-funnel marketing or sales asset, getting users to become informed about a topic, and then see how that topic can be related to a solution you are solving for with your product or service.
A well-written white paper can be incredibly effective in helping companies reach their goals. But how do you write an effective white paper? Let’s break down what it takes to create a winning white paper.
1. Know Your Audience:
The key to writing an effective white paper is understanding who your audience is and what they want or need. What problems are they solving? What challenges are they facing in their role? Identifying the target audience will help you tailor your message and make it more relevant and engaging for them. You should also determine the purpose of the white paper so you can make sure it delivers on that goal.
Need to know more about who your target audience is? Consider running a survey to be able to identify your target audience, and what problems or challenges they are looking to read up on. If you can effectively choose the right topic, the engagement and follow-on will be well suited to the audience you’d like to sell to.
2. Do Your Research:
Once you know your audience and purpose, it’s time to do some research. This means digging deep into industry trends, customer preferences, and anything else related to your topic that could be helpful in crafting an effective narrative for your white paper. That way, when you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), you’re armed with plenty of information that will help bring your message home in a compelling way.
When looking to understand a specific trend, consider doing a survey with a paid-panel or incentivized study with your customers. This ensures deep engagement and a guaranteed way to understand a point of view from users who might be difficult to reach, such as leaders at a B2B company. Being able to effectively understand your customers or audience to determine what topics they find interesting are the best ways to validate your white paper topic is aligned to their interests, and can tie back to your business and how you solve or view this challenge or topic.
3. Find Your Angle:
Post research, it’s time to bring your viewpoint to the topic. You’ll need to find the angle that will get people interested in reading your white paper and draw them in to learn more about your company! This means being creative with how you approach the topic in order to capture readers’ attention right away. Think about how you can spin the story in a unique way to make your product or service value propositions stand out or focus on something unexpected but still relevant to make it more engaging for readers. A great example are White Papers done by Webflow, who talk about the ever changing demands of companies to speed up the delivery of technical projects, and then highlight how their software helps companies do that with their marketing websites by removing the need for heavy-lift engineering teams.
4. Structure Matters:
Writing an effective white paper isn’t just about what you say—it’s also about how you say it! That means having a good structure for your document so readers don’t get lost as they read through it or feel overwhelmed by too much information at once. As done in this article, consider clear headings, Bullet or Number topics and ensure the key takeaway is always clearly standing out from the crowd through visuals, or enlarged text.
5. Get Creative with Design:
A well-designed White Paper makes reading easier and more enjoyable, which are both very important if you want people to actually read your white paper! Incorporate design elements such as visuals, customer testimonials or graphics that showcase the topics in a visual way. Adding social proof, like testimonials, is an incredible way to make your topic feel human and relatable. You can consider collecting both audio and video testimonials from thought leaders, employees or customers to bring your topic to life.
As mentioned before, consider adding interactive elements such as videos or quizzes if appropriate to make this even more engaging for readers as they go through it - these are often very successful at grabbing people's attention and it also helps you learn about your prospects before you even begin a conversation! Lastly, don’t forget to have CTAs and clearly show how readers can get in touch with you if they are interested in learning more.
Your best white paper starts with learning about your audience.
By knowing your audience, doing effective topic research, finding an interesting angle related to your company, and adding creative structure and design elements —you should be able to create a White Paper that will achieve great results. The most important advice we can have is to make sure you learn about your audience and capture perspectives from thought leaders so that your White Paper has a unique perspective and provides true value to your prospects. Also make sure that you tie everything together, and bring it back to why your company can help address the topic.
Running a research survey, or customer study are fantastic ways to easily scale how you capture this perspective. Collecting voice feedback is also a fantastic way to bring customer testimonials, opinions from thought leaders right into your White Paper, increasing the interactivity in your White Paper. If you have any questions on how to run an effective market research study or custom feedback survey, book a demo, or use our free tier to get started.