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What is a white paper?

July 9, 2021 - Fifteen

When it comes to content marketing, few content styles shout about your skills and experience more than a white paper. These documents have become industry markers where brands can show off impressive stats and insight which can be marketed to newspapers, industry news sites, and social media. We’re going to look at what a white paper is and how you can use them to turn insight into income. 

What is a white paper?

A white paper is a document to inform the reader on a specific topic, usually something highly specialised. A white paper makes use of extensive data and research to argue for a particular solution or recommendation. For example, if you ran a logistics company and had data on how your scheduling system has improved haulage then that information can be turned into a white paper to improve the industry and show off your ingenuity.

Value Vs. effort

Because of the research and time needed, a white paper can be an investment requiring days of researching, writing, and editing before rolling it out. These data-centric, text-heavy business documents are usually written with a particular audience in mind. As such, before you commit to a white paper it’s worth researching your market audience to see if the influence garnered from a white paper will directly result in more sales or bookings. 

How to decide on a white paper topic?

This leads us on to the next step. Deciding what to write about. If you’ve researched your audience and discovered it’s worth investing you’ll next need to find the data to back it. Often, you’ll already have a set of data or case studies in mind before you research your audience. 

You’ll want to aim for a document that combines internal experience with external research to create a sound argument that is not one-sided. Finding external support for your argument is particularly important as it shows a rigorous academic approach in your thinking, one that will resonate with readers as they study your whitepaper.

However, matching arguments to evidence don’t create solutions. The secret to a good whitepaper is turning evidence and arguments into an idea or solution. This can be anything, from common errors in your industry to a brand new method or potential trend that should be explored further. Whatever you decide, take the time to understand what you’re suggesting and how it could affect the industry at large. 

How to format a white paper

Once you have an idea it’s time to layout your whitepaper. Much like academic papers, a whitepaper needs to follow a specific layout to pass muster. You should aim for:

Title – Should be accurate and interesting.

Abstract – A brief overview of your argument and its main points used to capture the reader’s attention.

Problem Statement – This is where you argue for the need to change; what is the issue you are offering a solution to?

Background Information – This section is where you can provide context on the problem, industry, and your practice.

Solution – This is where you can flex your muscles and show the reader the eureka moment.

Conclusion – Conclude your argument by summarising the problem and your solution before concluding with your references.

As you can see, a whitepaper is no small feat. However, if you’re able to gather the information, find a captive audience, and (most importantly) find a solution to a common problem, you’ve got a powerful tool to grow your brand and influence. Once you have it written, get to work marketing it to newspapers and other news outlets. 

If you need a hand either generating a white paper or marketing it contact us today and we’ll help you make the most of your experience. Our SEO and content teams are on hand to provide expert advice and turn words into clicks.

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