Write a Killer White Paper to Build Immediate Credibility

Write a Killer White Paper to Build Immediate Credibility
Using white papers are a best practice for positioning you and your company as experts

A well written, compelling white paper that is thoughtfully promoted can build your company’s credibility.
By Loraine Kasprzak, MBA

One of my clients wants to develop business in a new “green” market segment. They have relevant expertise but little name recognition in the market segment. One tactic I recommended was to write and promote a series of white papers to build their credibility.

Are you faced with a similar problem? Then put white papers to work. They are an effective, low-cost way to provide your target market with informational resources. Even better, they position you as the expert in the field.

Here’s how you can write a killer white paper that builds your credibility.

Grab the audience’s attention
You need to create an instant affinity with the reader, if you expect them to read the paper at all. Rather than just delving into the details of your solution – an all too common approach – write the paper from the reader’s viewpoint. Use the words they use to describe the problem and solution.
The title of the paper should compel the reader to want to know more and should include the key benefit message. For example, “New process recovers value from spoiled beverages, increases profits” was one possible title for my client’s white paper.

The lead-in sentences should also be from the reader’s point of view. Don’t start out talking about your company.  The final version of my client’s paper opened with “Many beverage distributors have unsalable or waste soda…” instead of  the original “Our company knows how to handle waste soda…”

Leading with a question often works well too. For example, “Do you have soda that is spoiled or past the sell-by date…? If so, you know…”

Structure matters
Your paper should present information in a clear and readable way, and make use of bullet points and subtitles. Structure your paper to include:

  • Executive summary. Write this last. The summary should hit the key issues and current solutions, and present your company’s solution as a new approach and/or better than other solutions.
  • Background and problem statement.  This should include more in-depth discussion of the problem and pain points from the reader’s point of view. Use real-world examples to illustrate the problem.
  • Current solutions.  Here’s where you discuss what is being done now to solve the problem, and the pros and cons of those solutions. What are the costs involved? What is the impact on the environment, profitability, or brand image, etc., of the current solutions?
  • Your company’s approach. State your solution clearly and concisely. You can compare what you do to current solutions and include the key benefits of working with your company. This is also a good place to include photos, perhaps of your facility, process or end results.
  • Benefits of your approach. Discuss the economic, environmental and other benefits of your approach. Use some visuals here: maybe a chart comparing the savings from your approach with the current approaches.
  • Summary and call to action. Conclude your paper by restating the important points of your discussion. Include next steps that interested readers can take to learn more. Should they visit your company website? Call the company president or technical representative? Is there an upcoming webinar or conference they can attend?

Promote your white paper
After your white paper is written, be sure to review and edit it for grammar, spelling and technical accuracy. Then you’re ready to promote it through both traditional, electronic and social media. For starters, upload it to your company’s website and let your sales team know it is available to use on sales calls.

Other tactics you can use:

  • Sending an email blast
  • Issuing an press release through PRWeb or similar distribution services
  • Sending a press release to traditional media contacts such as trade journals
  • Posting a link on your LinkedIn or Facebook profile
  • Tweeting about it
  • Offering it as a direct mail incentive
  • Using it as a basis for a webinar or seminar

A well written, compelling white paper that is thoughtfully promoted can go a long way building credibility for your company.

Having trouble writing a white paper? Tell us about it in the Comments section below.

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