Content IS King - 5 Steps to Writing Effective White Papers

By Hollie Nishikawa

Compelling content is vital to your marketing efforts – engineers need and expect technical content such as white papers, data sheets, and detailed customer testimonials. These materials do much more than inform; through engaging content, you increase trust, strengthen perceived value and brand loyalty, gain a higher click-through rate for content placed on your website, and ultimately generate new leads and sales.

5 steps to writing whitepapers

For maximum impact, content must be:
  • Current
  • Engaging
  • Educational
  • Actionable

You have a variety of content avenues to choose from, so it’s important to begin with the most critical and prioritize quality vs. quantity, particularly when starting out. Assuming your website content is already developed, the next types of marketing content you should tackle include:

  • One-page flyers detailing products or services
  • Product data sheets
  • Technical white papers
  • Presentations
  • Customer case studies
  • Application-specific web landing pages
  • Short, how-to videos

The following guidelines discuss how to create white papers.

White Papers

White papers are a source of valuable technical content for your audience that can position you as an expert in a specific field. These documents differ from general marketing content in their high level of technical detail. White papers may also include how-to guides, visual diagrams, and even mathematical formulas about a relevant industry issue, product feature, or technical subject.

The following five steps can help you write and effectively use white papers:

1. Outline your content –To make sure you provide adequate detail for your white paper, outline your content first, including the following recommended sections:

  • Introduction – briefly define the topic of the white paper
  • Challenge – describe the reader’s pain points
  • Overview – tell what you will discuss in the paper and define key terms you will use
  • Body – discuss the industry issue, technology, or product feature, including your solution or resolution to the challenge and related benefits; include quantifiable results that are expected, if applicable
  • Call-to-action – what you want your reader to do next; examples include watching a video, visiting specific areas of your website, or requesting a product demo

2. Include images – Using graphics in your white paper helps a reader visualize what you are explaining. For a white paper on an industry topic, you may want to use graphs or charts; for a white paper on a product or technology, use models, diagrams, or screen shots to illustrate your points.

7 essential WP pic

Vertech, a control system integrator, uses interesting graphics to capture readers attention in their white papers. 

3. Wait for your pitch – If you are writing a white paper about an industry trend or a technical subject, it can be tempting to quickly dive in and explain how your company or product can address the topic. Resist this urge and wait until the end of your white paper to mention your products or services, and do it in general terms vs. a direct sales approach. This way, you will have successfully established your expertise on the subject of the white paper, and have developed the need for your product or service before you introduce it.

4. Review your work – Take a break from your draft and read it over when you return. Think about your audience and how they are approaching your content. If they aren’t familiar with the technology you’re referencing, make sure you address it thoroughly at the beginning of the paper. If your audience will likely know a lot about the subject, don’t labor over unnecessary details. To edit your content, read it backwards. First, read the last sentence, then the second-to-last sentence, and so on. This is a tedious process but it can help you catch missing or superfluous commas and spelling errors because you are able to read for grammar and punctuation without your mind jumping through the ideas and flow of the paper.

5. Use your content – Now that your content is written, use the white paper as a call-to-action for other marketing activities. For example, you can link a white paper that explains how to use a specific product feature on that product’s web page. This shows customers you can provide more expertise in specific technical areas such as a product feature, industry trend, or technical process.

For more helpful tips on how to create compelling content targeted towards engineers, download our free guide, Smart Marketing for Engineers.

B2B Marketing Foundation Ebook

 

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