Wednesday, February 11, 2015

If You Want to be a Freelance Writer, You Need to Learn to Write White Papers

White paper is another of those marketing industry terms that most outsiders find confusing. The term itself has little to no descriptive value and unless you work in a technical field, where white papers were born, you may not have even heard the term until someone asked you if you could write one!

White Papers are the ultimate proof of concept for products and services!

A good white paper will take the reader on a journey of discovering a problem they may or may not have even realized existed. If the writer has done their job right, the reader will find that they do, in fact, suffer from the problem. 

You have probably read one or two, in the form of long form sales letters that seemingly read your mind regarding an issue that had seemed minor before you read the letter, but now seems urgent. If you have ever found yourself “needing” something you didn’t know existed ten minutes before, you are likely experiencing a white paper marketing technique.

Once you are thoroughly convinced that a solution must be found, a white paper introduces that solution and guarantees you the best delivery method, via a specific product or service that the client of the white paper writer is “uniquely qualified” to provide!

Here is what White Papers Provide!

A good white paper will blend the technical documentation about your product or service into a marketing strategy that “educates” clients while informing them of the product’s value.
  • Sets you up as an expert in the client’s field or industry, proves you understand.
  • Shows your product as unique, or as an innovation, different from other solutions.
  • Clearly outlines the benefits of your products over others.
  • Makes them want to own your solution.
A successful white paper is based around showing a forceful and innovative solution, rather than just hyping a product. You are going to show them how it solves their problem!
Define your Target:
  • What are the characteristics of your ideal customers?
  • Talk about the challenges and issues facing them.
  • Make it convenient for them to get your paper. Where will they find it?
  • Make your overview, summary and abstract as engaging as possible, but brief. 
    • Always end with the basics of your solution in review.
    • Talk directly to their issues and challenges
    • Give a call to action
Choosing the right outline:
  • Read similar white papers that have been successful for clues
  • Write for the publishing format you will use
    (Content for the web has a different voice than hard copied papers)
  • Stay away from industry jargon and tech terms/stay upbeat/ use active voice:
    Technical documentation is the best place for complicated data based explanations
    Minimize marketing language, it should not feel like you are “selling”.
With an engaging overview!

In online marketing, you have eight seconds or less to catch their attention!
  • Your overview should be one tight paragraph. Many people may skip to the end, try to keep them engaged.
Explain the challenges
This section can be two or three paragraphs describing problems the client faces and demonstrating your understanding of their industry and the issues they face.

  • Don’t think you can hide a sales pitch, don’t assume, do your homework
  • Stay away from industry speak and jargon. Decision makers are often execs, not techs
  • Use clear definitions for terms when absolutely necessary
  • Explain the main points of your white paper

Product or service description
Tell them how and why this product is built to industry standards, why thing were done the way they were, and how easy your product is to use.

Use images and diagrams wherever appropriate. This breaks up text and makes your white paper more appealing.

Marry the challenges to your solution, make it clear they are connected.

Show why this is with case studies and statistics.
Prove your solution

Lure them in
  • Show clear benefits of your solution, and don’t forget the bottom line!
  • Discuss what is coming next, how will your solution continue to grow with the client?
Finish up with the confidence that you have solved their biggest challenge!

Remind them of your products unique advantages 

Proofread for content and readability. Improve, improve, improve. Share the paper for feedback before publishing

Get it out there!

Find the best places to position your white paper where potential clients will find it naturally. It should feel like a discovery when they do!