Writing a white paper is a unique challenge for writers. They are more formal than a lot of marketing and, as such, have a different tone and structure. Luckily for organizations struggling with producing a white paper, or stressed at the thought of writing one, there are services that can help. If you don’t want to use a service here are some tips to help you along the way.
A successful white paper will sell your organization's product or position while building credibility with the potential client. As such, the paper must balance being authoritative and factual while also being easily accessible. If your article is too academic, it risks becoming too dry, too complex, and could lead to your client losing interest. If your article is too casual and flashy, while it may be accessible, you risk not building credibility with your client. Both of these results could lead to a negative outcome, either losing the sale or hurting your organization's reputation.
This balance is essential to a successful white paper and that makes it a unique challenge. Luckily, like with any challenge, there is plenty of advice to be found. The first thing a writer should do is to learn about their audience. You want to write at a level that isn't above your client's understanding but not too simply where the client could be insulted. You also want to have a good understanding of what the audience knows because no one wants to read about information that is already known. Repeating information that is already known also wastes space that could be used for other, more relevant, information.
The information in a white paper is what will make or break a possible deal. While the goal of the document is to sell a product or service, you aren't giving the readers a marketing spill. You should aim to educate. As Avangate points out, the white paper should talk about the features of the product or service instead of directly selling the idea to them. Let the audience connect the benefits of the product with the problem that the product solves. One of the best ways to avoid the "salesman's pitch" is the usage of third-party sources, case studies, and reviews. This makes the information provided seem less like a biased, marketing pitch. However, the use of these third-party sources can present another problem, the information must be up-to-date. Outdated information can not only present a false picture of the service, but it also looks bad. Both of these can hurt the credibility that the white paper is supposed to build.
After figuring out who the white paper's audience is, the next step is to actually write it. White papers, like any formal document, generally have a traditional structure. An example of this structure can be seen at the Purdue Online Writing Lab. This writing structure increases readability because the client, especially if they have experience with white papers, will know what to expect. Another way to increase readability is the use of visual aids, which will aid the client in understanding the information provided as well as granting a brief break from reading.