How to Write White Papers | Alan Sharpe | Skillshare
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How to Write White Papers

teacher avatar Alan Sharpe, Copywriting Instructor

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      About this Class

      2:16

    • 2.

      Anatomy of a white paper

      11:53

    • 3.

      Pick your topic

      8:15

    • 4.

      Research your topic

      9:18

    • 5.

      Outline your white paper

      12:12

    • 6.

      Give your white paper a strong title

      7:09

    • 7.

      Seven Steps to Using Chatgpt to Generate Compelling Whitepaper Titles and Subtitles

      5:47

    • 8.

      Write a compelling introduction

      9:12

    • 9.

      Give your white paper context

      8:04

    • 10.

      Describe your solution

      6:32

    • 11.

      End with a call to action

      11:02

    • 12.

      Write like a designer

      9:04

    • 13.

      Five mistakes to avoid

      8:15

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About This Class

If you want to earn a decent living as a freelance copywriter, you should take on assignments that pay the highest fees. One of those assignments is marketing white papers.

Hi, I’m Alan Sharpe, and welcome to my course on how to write effective marketing white papers. In this course I teach you:

  • how to pick a white paper topic that resonates with your target audience

  • how to research your white paper so that you appear authoritative

  • how to outline your white paper so that your document has a logical flow and keeps the attention of your reader

  • how to give your white paper a strong title, so that prospective customers want to read it

  • I show you how to write each section of the white paper, including the introduction, problem statement, background section, solution section, conclusion and call to action

  • I give you tips on how to write like a designer, and I describe five mistakes to avoid

I’m your instructor, Alan Sharpe. I teach copywriters around the world how to write compelling copy. I landed my first paying copywriting assignment in 1991, and I taught my first business writing workshop in 1989. Since then, I’ve helped hundreds of individuals advance their careers by improving their copywriting.

The ideal student for this course is anyone who has to write marketing white papers to generate leads. If you need to research, outline and write white papers that establish authority, build trust and generate leads, then this course is for you.

This course is practical. You and I will examine more than a dozen marketing white papers to discover what works, what doesn’t—and why. You’ll learn tips, tricks and best practices from professional white-paper copywriters.

I pass on to you all that I’ve learned about writing effective white papers during the last three decades as a copywriter. I show you the most common mistakes that copywriters make in their writing today—and then I show you how to avoid these blunders in your white papers.

Meet Your Teacher

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Alan Sharpe

Copywriting Instructor

Teacher

Are you reading my bio because you want to improve your copywriting? Bonus. That makes two of us.

Are you looking for a copywriting coach who has written for Fortune 500 accounts (Apple, IBM, Hilton Hotels, Bell)? Check.

Do you want your copywriting instructor to have experience writing in multiple channels (print, online, direct mail, radio, television, outdoor, packaging, branding)? Groovy.

If you had your way, would your copy coach also be a guy who has allergic reactions to exclamation marks, who thinks honesty in advertising is not an oxymoron, and who believes the most important person in this paragraph is you? 

Take my courses.

I'm Alan Sharpe. Pleased to make your acquaintance. I'm a 30-year veteran copywriter who has been teaching pe... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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Transcripts

1. About this Class: Hi, I'm Alan sharp and welcome to my course on how to write effective marketing white papers. In this course, I teach you how to pick a white paper topic that resonates with your target audience. How to research your white paper so that you appear authoritative. How to outline your white paper so that your document has a logical flow and keeps the attention of your reader. How do you give your whitepaper a strong title so that prospective customers want to read it. And I show you how to write each section of the white paper, including the intro, problem statement, background section, solution section, conclusion, and call to action. And finally, I give you tips on how to write like a designer. And I describe five mistakes to avoid. I'm Alan sharp, your instructor. I teach copywriters around the world how to write compelling copy. I landed my first Peng copy writing assignment in 1991. And I taught my first business writing workshop a couple of years before that in 1989. Since then, I've helped hundreds of individuals advance their careers by improving their copyrighting. The ideal student for this course is anyone who has to write marketing white papers to generate leads. If you need to research, outline, and write white papers that establish authority, build trust, and generate leads. Then this course is for you. This course is practical. You and I will examine more than a dozen marketing white papers to discover what works, what doesn't, and why. You'll learn tips, tricks, and best practices from professional whitepaper copywriters. I pass on to you all that I've learned about writing effective white papers during the last three decades. As a copywriter, I showed you the most common mistakes that copywriters make in their writing today. And then I show you how to avoid these blunders in your white papers. 2. Anatomy of a white paper: The biggest challenge that many copywriters face when they sit down to write a marketing white paper is not knowing what to say. It's knowing how to say it in a logical way. White papers, after all, are typically lengthy documents. Your job as a writer is to guide your reader step-by-step through the document in a logical, persuasive, helpful way. Good news for you is that white papers follow a predictable structure. They follow a predictable order. Once you know what this structure looks like, your confidence will increase and you'll be ready to sit down and start writing. To understand how white papers are structured, Let's look at a white paper in detail. Let's look at the title. Every white paper has a title page. On this page, you typically find the title of the white paper and the name of the organization who was publishing the white paper. The most effective white papers do three things in their title. They named their audience, they name a problem, and they hint at a solution. This white paper is called why you need an omni-channel strategy, creating a seamless customer experience. The audience is organizations who have customers. The problem is the consequences of not delivering a seamless customer experience. And the solution is deploying an omni-channel strategy. Then there's a table of contents. If you're white paper has more than 10 pages, you need a table of contents. As you can see, this white paper has more than 26 pages. This is one of the most useful pages in a white paper, especially if you are a new writer wanting to learn how to write one. As you can see, this table of contents shows you the logical order that this writer has followed in structuring this marketing whitepaper. It starts with introduction, moves onto background, defines important terms, describes the problem, offer solutions, gives examples and ends with a call to action. Let's look at these in some detail. First, the executive summary. As you scroll down past the table of contents, you discover that this white paper starts with an introduction. Starting with an introduction is fine with a short white paper, one with fewer than 10 pages, but a white paper like this which runs to 28 pages, needs executive summary. You can't expect busy executives to read a 28 page white paper from start to finish. Some of them, perhaps most of them need you to give them a summary of the documents. You do this with a one-page executive summary. This summary is essentially the entire white paper condensed onto one page following the same format as the white paper. Namely, you state your problem, you give background, you offer a solution and make recommendations and you have a conclusion. So let's look at the introduction. Your introduction is the start of your whitepaper. This is where you introduce your topic. Most white papers describe a problem and then offer a solution. You can see that this is what this writer has done here in the introduction. Whether it's on a smart phone, tablet, or desktop, there are now no shortage of ways that a potential customer can reach out anytime or anywhere. And no matter if you're a startup, a government department, and established brick and mortar business, or a strictly online outfit. You are now expected to be always open for business. Are you prepared? You may think you have all the boxes ticked, a responsive website, 24, 7 call center, live chat, and a comprehensive social media strategy. But are these channels connecting to each other? Do you have the technology in place for these separate platforms to speak to each other. Because if they aren't, you won't be speaking to your customer in one conversation, but many frustrating for even the most patient of people. So there is the problem statements. If your communications channels are not connected to each other, you are not speaking to your customer in one conversation, but many frustrating for even the most patient of people. The writer then continues in order to not only survive but thrive in what is a fast changing and at times overwhelming digital landscape. Most Australian and New Zealand businesses and government departments will need to adopt a more all encompassing strategy. They will need an omni-channel approach, unquote. So there's the solution being offered. Quote, they will need an omni-channel approach, unquote. So the writer continues in this e-book, in this white paper, will explain the difference between the traditional multi-channel and omni-channel approach. Why you need to make the switch, how to make it happen, which global brands are doing best, and how to deliver a seamless customer experience, unquote. Notice how the introduction ends with a description of what you are going to learn in the white paper and in what order. Let's look at the next section of a white paper, which is typically background. After you've stated the problem you'll be discussing in your white paper. You may need to provide some background. You may need to describe a trend that brought us to where we are today. You may need to define some key terms that may be unfamiliar to your audience. You do this with a background section. This writer gives you some background on what omni-channel is and goes on to describe the difference between multi-channel and omni-channel. This background section is clearly needed because many readers are confused about these two terms, multi-channel and omni-channel. Notice that the writer uses visuals to illustrate key concepts that will be discussed later. In the white paper. The writer continues with background by describing the current state of affairs. And doing so by answering a question that is relevant to readers. Most readers of white papers want to know why and why. Now, this section answers both those questions. Now, the solution section, the next logical section of your white paper, after your introduction and background, your solution. This writer presents these in the form of a question and answer session with one of the general managers at the company that authored this whitepaper. This section talks through the benefits and pitfalls of adopting an omni-channel strategy. The writer continues this solution section by giving facts, figures, and statistics that backup what has been said until now. You'll notice that this proof comes from authoritative impartial sources, sources other than the company that published the white paper. The writer then moves on to recommendations. Every white paper should be eminently practical. It should not only describe a problem and offer a solution, but also describe how to implement that solution. Here the writer does this by describing what you need to deliver an omni-channel strategy. Again, the writer uses research findings from third party sources to prove assertions and give authority to the recommendations being made. The writer then gives multiple examples of global firms that are doing exactly what this writer is recommending. The writer does this with a series of case studies. If you are writing a technical white paper, you can replace these case studies with use cases. Now, the conclusion, the white paper ends with a conclusion. Notice that this is not a summary. It is a conclusion that delivers some insight in what you have just read. In the bottom right-hand corner. For example, the writer describes with the help of a visual why omnichannel is vital. The next section is the company bio. The final pages of the white paper is a section that describes the company that authored the white paper. The author describes the company and how it helps the kind of business that is reading this white paper. The only thing missing from this white paper is a call to action. If you want your whitepaper to generate leads and inquiries, put a call to action at the end. Tell the reader what to do next. Direct them to a page on your website. Offer a free resource, asked them to call you, do something to move your reader to the next stage in the buyer journey. So let's recap. Your white paper should have a title that names your audience, names a problem, and hints at a solution. If you're white paper is longer than 10 pages, it needs a table of contents. If you're white paper is longer than 10 pages, it needs a one-page executive summary. Begin your white paper with an introduction that states the problem, outlines the solution, and tells readers what to expect in the white paper. Next, provide background so that you present your topic in context. Next, offer solutions. Next, make your recommendations and your white paper with a conclusion. And on your final page, described your company, how you can help, and then tell readers what you want them to do. Next. When you follow this format, your whitepaper follows a logical sequence that leads your reader to your call to action that takes them into the next step of their buyer journey. And once that closer to a sale with you. 3. Pick your topic: When you sit down to write a marketing white paper, make sure you write about a topic that your prospective customers want to read about. To do that, remember the main goal of all white papers, which is to generate leads. There are other goals. Of course, you want your white paper to position your company as an authority, as a thought leader, that's one goal. And yes, you want your white paper to build trust with your potential buyers. That's another goal. But the main goal of your marketing whitepaper is to fill your funnel with as many leads as you possibly can. You do this by creating a landing page that offers the white paper as a lead magnet. You offer the whitepaper as a download in exchange for a visitor's contact details, typically their name and e-mail address. Now plenty of buyers won't give you their name and e-mail address unless you offer them something attractive, something they need. And this brings us to the topic, white paper. Your topic must be something that your potential buyers want to read about. Here are four tips for picking a winning white paper. Topic number 1, start with your audience. Your audience is your first consideration. You must write your white paper with a target reader in mind. Your audience may be familiar with your industry, or they may be newcomers who are unfamiliar with the field. Either way, put yourself in their position and ask yourself about the kind of information they are looking for in a whitepaper. Reflect on your readers pain points, their business challenges, their problems or questions. If you have created buyer persona's, examine those buyer personas for clues about their needs. Answer these questions to get you started. Who is your target audience? Where are they in their buyer journey, awareness, consideration or decision. What are your buyers? Pain points, needs, or interests? What can you discuss in your white paper that your audience cannot get anywhere else? What are the keywords, phrases, and questions that your buyers are typing into Google that you can target with your white paper topic. From your research. Draw up a list of potential topics and for as many as possible. Then review your list looking for relevant topics that you have not seen covered by white papers or thought leadership pieces in your industry. Look for gaps. Or if a topic has been covered already, looked to see if the topic needs a fresh perspective or an update, one that can supply. Avoid all topics that have already been covered to death. Covered repeatedly in trade publications, Industry Association newsletters, websites and webinars, and on the blogs of your competitors, avoid those topics. So within the topics that you've shortlisted, look for ones that have not been fully investigated or the available information is that update. Tip number two, consider your expertise. The key to writing a successful whitepaper is to write about what you know. Your white paper should match your company's expertise. It should showcase your authority in a particular topic. Since one aim of a white paper is to demonstrate subject matter authority. What subject matter are you an authority in that expertise may reside in a single persons such as your visionary company founder. It may reside in a particular business unit or division such as your research and development division. Or it may reside in the minds of a group of people at your company, at your business, at your organization, discover what you are good at. Discovering what your secret sauce is as they call it, and write about that. Tip number 3, consider a problem solution approach. Effective white papers, identify and address a particular problem. So look around your field, your industry, and your marketplace for problems that your potential buyers are facing right now, or that they will soon be facing. The two criteria that you need to look for in any problem, our relevance and timeliness. Look for common dilemmas, new trends, changing techniques, and so on. Anything that's relevant to your target audience right now. Then propose a solution to the problem. Make a recommendation. First, thoroughly examined the problem, then follow up with a solution or potential solutions. What is currently happening in the market today? What's the current situation? What are companies or individuals struggling with most? And why? What are the specific problems, needs, or pain points that they have? Ask your audience, is tip number 4. One of the easiest ways to discover what your potential buyers want to read about is to ask them, pick up the phone, ask around, or send out an informal survey or poll, asking your audience about the problems they have or the questions they need answers to. One advantage of getting your white paper ideas from your potential buyers is that the process generates some buzz before you have even published your white paper. If during your research you Discovery common, relevant, timely topic and decide to write about it in your white paper, you will generate interest among your potential buyers before you've written a word, before you've even published your white paper. Number five, Don't go too big or too small. Gordon Graham, who wrote the book on how to write white papers, suggests you be careful with the scope. Your white paper. He says, one thing to watch out for is picking an idea that's either too big or too small. You want to focus on something you can cover in about five to 12 pages depending on the type of white paper you're writing. He continues, for example. An idea that's really too big for one white paper is how cities can solve their budget crises, which probably calls for congressional hearings and a report thousands of pages thick. The flip side of this topic is one that is just too small for a white paper. He gives another example, how to position automated parking meters on city streets. This topic sounds more like a section from an installation manual or perhaps a blog post. Probably not. An idea. That justifies putting together a six to eight page white paper. When you sit down to write a marketing white paper, make sure you write about a topic that your prospective customers want to read about. When you do that, you attract website visitors, generate leads and add leads to your funnel. 4. Research your topic: Marketing white papers are data focused, so they should be supported by significant research. There's no hard and fast rule on citations, but you need to cite any information that is not public knowledge and that you didn't know before beginning your research. However, understand that the reader's confidence is likely to increase with an increasing number of cited references. Of course, all resources must come from authoritative sites. In order to write a valuable document. All research materials must be from credible, reliable sources. Good white papers are fact-based and research driven. You're not here to throw your opinions out to the world without data to back them up. Depending on what you're covering, you might get by with nothing more than Google and your company's own insights. But if you want to take things to the next level as they say, you'll need to do deeper research. Here's how you do it. Research reports. The most compelling evidence you can present to backup your claims is the findings of third party researchers. In just about every industry, there is a research firm that publishes research reports on trends in the industry. For example, Gartner is one of the best known and trusted research firms. This is how they described their service, quote, gain and essential edge with independent, objective, accurate, and rigorously research insights drawn from 1900 analysts and 380 thousand client interactions, including 130 thousand executive interactions each year, unquote. Another well-known research firm is Forrester. Here's how they describe their service, quote, forests or research focuses on the hardest, most important dynamics of the day. Dynamics that have the potential to create extraordinary opportunity for some and put others in desperate straits, unquote. Both of these research firms produce research reports, white papers, research insights, and other documents that present the results of their research. I recommend you begin your research for your white paper at the websites of the research firms in your industry. Review their published research. To find the facts, trends, statistics, and findings, you need to backup your claims in your white paper. Another source of research for you is white papers published by your competitors and other organizations, including governments, trade associations, and competitors. These white papers give you insight into your topic, telling you what's been discussed, where the conversation is headed, and what has yet to be discussed or covered. These white papers are also useful because they will cite research sources. You may be unfamiliar with. Visit these resources as well, and use them to add authority to your white paper where needed. Industry sources. Every industry of any size has a trade association. Trade associations published reports, newsletters, blogs, and other publications that present industry news, trends and facts. Trade associations are particularly helpful for gathering facts about the size and composition of the industry. Trade associations also host conferences, webinars, and other events. These are a great source of a original research conducted by members of the association. Sometimes you will find PowerPoint presentations, transcripts, and handouts of workshop sessions posted on the websites of the conference organizers. These are very helpful in your research for your white paper. The next place to look as you research your white paper is internally within your organization. Route through your filing cabinets, your servers, your office library, and other places for internal research reports, tables, charts, publications that present your unique take on the topic of your white paper. Interviews with subject matter experts. If you are like most copywriters and content marketing writers, you will be invited to write a white paper on a topic that is outside your area of expertise. This does not have to be an issue as long as you get access to people who are experts in the subject matter. In the world of tech, these people are called subject matter experts or sneeze. They are generally tech people who work daily with a given hardware or software platform. So they are perfect sources for insights into the topic of your white paper. If you are writing about infrastructure automation or artificial intelligence or machine learning or any other technical subjects. Then there's original research. Your final source for your research is original research. This is the most difficult option and the most expensive, but it can provide the most valuable results. After all, if you have access to publicly available information, so do your competitors. But original research, research that you conduct yourself is powerful. Or original research positions you and your organization as an authoritative source of information on your topic. Original research gives you something that no one else has and that is original insights. And that makes your white paper much more valuable than something that a competitor slaps together after spending a morning doing some searches on Google. Finally, original research gives you unique insights into your audience and your industry. When you conduct interviews, polls, surveys, focus groups, and other customer research, original research. You learn things about your customers that you can learn in no other way. As you are collecting your research, you need a simple but effective way to organize your findings. The easiest way that I know of is to create a master document in Microsoft Word. Under View. View your document in outline mode. Then break your document into sections. Each section dealing with a major part of your white paper. You aren't outlining your white paper at this stage, you're just breaking up your research into chunks. Give each chunk of research a title and set that title as Heading 1. Create subheadings whenever needed, and set these as Heading 2. As you find statistics, facts, and other research that you think you can use in your white paper, copy and paste those things under the appropriate heading. If a document is too large to copy and paste or if the source document is a web-page, cite the source, instead giving it a descriptive name and path that you can easily find and follow back to to find the source document. As you can see, the big advantage of using the outlining feature in Microsoft Word is that it lets you show and then hide, shoots sections of your research. This makes it easy to drill down into each section as you conduct your research so that you put each piece of information, each piece of research in its proper place. When you fill your white paper with sound research from industry specialists, subject matter experts, and other authoritative sources, you increase trust and position your company as an authority on your subject. And once you gain the trust of your potential clients, they are more likely to listen to your sales pitch. So if you want your white paper to generate leads for you, do your research, your prospects will reward you with their business. 5. Outline your white paper: Imagine that you're sitting in the international departures lounge at the airport. You're about to board a flight that will take you halfway around the world to a country you have never visited before. The steward at the gate comes on the public address system and makes the following announcement. Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to start boarding. Sorry for the delay. Our captain couldn't find his map and are onboard compass is broken, but never mind that our captain has a pretty good idea of where our destination is. And even though we will be flying halfway across the world and over and ocean at night, he thinks he can get you to your destination without a map and without a compass, please prepare for boarding. Would you board that plane? Of course, not. Every pilot needs a map. Every aircraft needs a working compass. No one should fly without them. In the world of marketing, every white paper needs an outline. Your outline helps you organize your thoughts before you start writing. It helps you discover where you're going and it keeps you on track until you reach your destination. Start with a blank piece of paper or an empty word document. Write out your key message. What do you want your reader to understand or believe or do? After reading your document? Write it down. A good practice is to write out your key message in one sentence. After reading this white paper, my reader will ex, writing your key message helps you stay focused. Your key message prevents you from Drift. It prevents you from wandering into topics that are not relevant to your goal. Everything you write must support your key message. Always identify your purpose for writing before you start writing. Stating your key message saves you lots of time and agony rewriting later, and it prevents a lack of direction from creeping into your content. Next, create a list of all the major points you want to make in your marketing white paper. Do this as a brainstorming exercise. As you think of a point, write it down. Don't worry about the order of your points just yet. Don't spend anytime organizing your thoughts, just get them down on paper or onto your screen. One useful exercise is to act like a reporter and ask yourself the five W's and the H. Ask yourself who, what, why, where, when, and how who are you writing to? What are you writing about? Why are you writing? Whereas this applicable, when is this taking place? How will it happen? If you're addressing a problem? How should you describe it? How do you aim to solve it? If you're making recommendations in your white paper as you should, what is the background? What steps were taken? What are your findings? What are your recommendations? Don't worry at this stage about being grammatical or about writing in complete sentences. Just write your thoughts down. In point form. You're going to flesh out these thoughts later. Just get them down in point form for now. As you continue, you'll discover that outlining isn't just a way to organize your existing ideas. Outlining helps you discover new ideas. As you capture your thoughts in your outline, your mind thinks of other ideas and points that you want to include in your documents, in your marketing white paper. Arrange your thoughts in the order that you're going to write them. When you find a point down in your list that really belongs at the top, move it to the top of your outline. Likewise, if you find the point that the start of your outline that really belongs somewhere else in your document. Move it down in your outline. I use the outlining tool in Microsoft Word for this, you'll notice that Microsoft Word lets you assign heading styles to your points, heading 1, heading to heading three, and so on. This lets you give your document a hierarchy that you can easily see at a glance. Set your main points as Heading 1 and set sub-points as Heading 2 and so on. Remember, as you write these points and sub-points down, do not start to write yet. Put everything in point form only. Your only goal in outlining is to decide what you want to say and in what order you want to say it, how you say it comes later on. During the writing process. As you organize your thoughts, check to see that each point belongs where it is. As you review your outline multiple times, you'll discover that some points need to be revised. Reworded to accurately say what you want to say. You'll also discover that some points need to be moved to other parts of the outline. Do this as many times as you need to until your outline reflects what you want to say and the order you want to say it. The outline of your white paper shouldn't have a lot of detail, but it shouldn't have anything missing either. It should contain all of the main and minor points that you want to make written out in point form. It shouldn't have any gaps that you aim to fill later once you start writing, I know the temptation. The temptation when outlining is to say to yourself, oh, I know what I'm going to say in this little section right here. I know the point that I want to make, so I won't bother completing this part of the outline. I'll just write point 1, point 2, point 3, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I'll put it here as a, as a place holder for the content that will come later. Don't do this. The whole reason for doing an outline to give your document order and logic. This is order and logic that your readers are going to appreciate. So if something is important enough to include in your document, include it in your outline. If only in point form. Here are three rules to help you create a successful outline for your marketing. Whitepaper, rule number one, always know your key message. Always decide why you are writing your white paper. Always know what you are needing to communicate. This is your key message. Write it down. Rule number 2. State your key message. Immediately. Put the most important information at the start of your white paper. At the beginning of your white paper, don't make your reader read page after page after page after page to find out the point that you're making. If you're making a recommendation, for example, state that recommendation at the start of your document. If you're white paper is lengthy, write an executive summary at the beginning, state the recommendations and summarize how you justify those recommendations later on in your documents. Rule number three only include points that support your key message. In the body of your white paper. Give the facts, findings, explanations, data, and examples that support your key message. Only include those things that are relevant to your key message. Don't stray. Don't introduce new topics or new messages. Once you get the hang of outlining, you'll discover that creating an outline helps you decide what you want to say. A good outline gives your document order and logic. It keeps you focused. And irrelevant. Outlines help you make your writing more clear and more compelling and odd as this may sound, outlines speed up the writing process. Adding the extra step of writing an outline actually shortens your total writing time. This is because contrary to popular opinion, outlining is part of the composition process. Once you've analyzed your audience and selected an appropriate medium, which is the white paper. You're ready to begin writing your outline. Your outline is a blueprint for your draft. It is a design that tells you how you will organize your message, how you will sequence your key ideas and how you will support those ideas in your white paper. In contrast to a draft, you are the audience for your outline. Begin an outline by creating a list of information you think your readers need or expect. For example, if you are crafting a document about the Environmental Protection Agency's role in fluoride in drinking water. Your list of things you want to say might look like this. Explain what the EPA is doing about fluoride and drinking water. Define what fluoride is. Explain how Fluoride gets into drinking water. Lists some of the effects of fluoride include specific data referred to the safe water Drinking Act. Next, organize the list into a map that guide your reader from point to point to point. Create an introduction, a body, a conclusion, and then decide how you will divide each topic into subtopics. Your outline might look like this. Part 1, introduction, defined fluoride part to the body. Explain how Fluoride gets into drinking water. Lists some of the effects of fluoride. Explain how fluoride is regulated, namely the 1970 for Safe Drinking Water Act, MCL, maximum contaminant levels, Part 3, your conclusion, describe the EPA standards. For a long, complex document, use a format that includes Roman numerals like this to indicate the three main sections of introduction, body, and conclusion. This is in your outline only. Use indented capital letters like this to indicate the first level of subtopics. Then use indented Arabic numerals like this to indicate the next level of subtopics. Again, this is just in your outline. Finally, use indented lowercase letters like this to indicate the third level of subtopics. This outlining strategy is known as alpha numeric notation. There are types of outlines include full sentence outlines and decimal outlines. They also help you compose an effective design or blueprint for your draft. After you complete your outline, you're ready to write your first draft of your white paper. 6. Give your white paper a strong title: Every white paper has a title, just as every book has a title. If you want people to read your white paper, give it a strong title. A strong title tells your target reader who you're white papers for, what your white paper is about and why the reader should read it. Let's look at some examples of titles of white papers to learn some lessons about what to do and what not to do when naming your white paper. White papers tend to be long documents. So anything you can do to communicate that your white paper is a quick read, might be a good idea. I say might be a good idea because not all subjects can be covered in a quick read. Here is a white paper from Salesforce. Note the numeral at the beginning of the title, six keys to sales and marketing alignment. Now I just said that a strong title tells your target reader who your white paper is, for, what your white paper is about, and why the reader should read it. So let's look at this title. This white paper is likely aimed at sales and marketing managers or their supervisors. But you can't be sure the writer could have made that more specific and clear with a subtitle, something like six keys to sales and marketing alignment, a guide for CEOs. What's this white paper about? Sales and marketing alignment? Why should the target reader read it? What benefit does the White Paper offer or promise? You should read the white paper to understand six keys to sales and marketing alignment. That's six essentials or six best practices. Next, try to put your keywords at the front of your title, not at the end. Check out this white paper from Cisco is called networking and your competitive edge. The keyword here is networking. Cisco is in the networking business and their readers are in the networking business. So networking is a vital keyword for Cisco to include in the title of the white paper. The advantage of putting the keyword at the start of the white paper title is that readers see the keyword first. The keyword is more likely to grab their attention if they're skimming a webpage and see the title of the white paper as the first word. Putting the keyword at the front of the title also helps online if this whitepaper appears in search results. If the keyword is at the start of the title, it appears as the first word in search results. If this keyword is placed at the end of the title, it may get truncated, chopped off, and be invisible. See what I mean by looking at the title of this white paper. The sophisticated marketers guide to content marketing. The keyword here is content marketing, but they placed it at the end of the title. It's the last thing you read as you read the title and it won't appear in search results, it will get chopped off. Now this publisher could have placed this keyword at the beginning of the title, like this, content marketing, a guide for sophisticated marketers. Next, consider giving your whitepaper a subtitle. Sometimes you can't tell your target reader who you're white papers for, what your white paper is about and why the reader should read it all in your title. Sometimes you need a subtitle as well. In this white paper from DocuSign, the company has used a title and a subtitle. The title tells you what the white paper is about. Digital transformation. How digital transformation gives growing businesses the agility edge. The subtitle tells readers why they should read the white paper. Three ways growing businesses use digital workflow to boost productivity and cut costs. Boosting productivity and cutting costs or benefits. Getting those two benefits into the title wouldn't have worked because the title is already a bit too long. So creating a subtitle makes sense right here. Don't simply call your white paper a white paper. Here's a white paper from a company called atoms. They don't bother giving their white paper a strong title. They just put their company logo at the top and call the document a white paper. Not very effective. And don't take your company brochure and simply rename it a white paper. Here, for example, is a company brochure disguised as a white paper, is from Clear pole, is called social public opinion polls on the blockchain. That sounds like a white paper title. But when you start reading the white paper, you quickly discover on page 3 that this is a company capabilities brochure masquerading as a whitepaper. Don't do this. Remember, a white paper is a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution. Impartial, it's unbiased, it doesn't sell. Now in some industries in blockchain and cryptocurrencies, for example, some firms create sales documents aimed at securing startup funding from angel investors and venture capital firms. These documents tend to be really, really along at least 50 pages. In most cases, the goal of these documents is to describe a challenge or opportunity in the marketplace and to present the company as a firm that is going to meet that opportunity and earn the investor a return on their investment. Many startup companies who create these documents call them white papers. Now this is all very well. Just as long as they remember that our prospectus for an investor is not a marketing document that belongs anywhere in a sales funnel or buyer journey. So before you name anything, a white paper, make sure it's goal is to attract, engage, convert, or close leads. Make sure the white paper belongs somewhere in your sales funnel, in your buyer journey. That way, your whitepaper will help you attract and engage fires. 7. Seven Steps to Using Chatgpt to Generate Compelling Whitepaper Titles and Subtitles: One of your goals after writing your white paper is to give it a compelling title. Crafting the right title increases your chances of catching your reader's eye and accurately conveying the essence of your white paper. Both of these are crucial in making that first impression count. If you need help, use a generative AI tool like Chat GPT or Jasper. Here are seven steps to using Cat GPT to generate compelling titles and subtitles for your white papers. First things first, you need to give chat GPT a clear understanding of your white paper. This includes the main theme, the purpose, your target audience, any key findings or conclusions. For example, if you're writing about renewable energy innovations, you might write into Chat GPT. Hey, Chat GPT, I'm working on a white paper that discusses new innovations in renewable energy. Specifically, focusing on solar and wind power. It's aimed at industry professionals and policymakers. The main conclusion is that adopting these technologies significantly reduces carbon footprints and energy costs. Next, think about the tone and style of the title. Do you want something formal and straightforward or something a bit more catchy and engaging. Naturally, your choice should align with the intended audience of your white paper. For instance, you might tell Chat GPT, I'm looking for a title that is professional yet eye catching, something that grabs the attention of busy policymakers. Now, let's move on to generating some options. It's always better to have a variety of titles to choose from. You might type into Chat GPT, chat GPT, based on the information provided, generate five titles and two subtitles for each title. Let's see some examples. Okay. Harnessing the winds and suns, pioneering the future of renewable energy. Subtitle, a detailed analysis of innovations in solar and wind power. Another subtitle, how today's technology can lead to a greener tomorrow. Title, the Green Revolution, transforming energy with wind and solar, subtitle, Exploring cost effective solutions for sustainable development, Subtitle, policy recommendations for a sustainable energy future. And so on. Each of these titles sets a unique tone and highlights aspects of the white Papers content. After generating some options, it's time to evaluate them. Look for the title that best captures the main theme and purpose of your white paper. Ask yourself, does this title grab attention? Is this title accurate and reflective of the content? Remember that you are free to mix and match titles and subtitles from the suggestions that Cat GPT supplied so that you create the perfect title and subtitle. It's always a good idea to get a second opinion. So share your favorite titles and subtitles with a colleague or a mentor and get their thoughts. They might offer valuable perspectives that you hadn't considered, and that helps you refine your choice even further. If the initial suggestions aren't quite hitting the mark, don't hesitate to iterate. Go back to Chat GPT with feedback on what you liked or didn't like about the previous suggestions. For example, you type into Chat GPT. I like the engaging nature of the green revolution, but can we try something that emphasizes the technological innovation aspect more? Finally, select the title and subtitle that you feel best represents your white paper. Remember, your title is the first thing potential reader see, so make sure it's engaging and reflective of the content. That's it. Using Chat GPT to help you generate your white paper title and subtitle not only saves you time, it also provides a range of creative options you might not have thought of on your own. With these simple steps, you craft a title that grabs attention and encapsulates the spirit of your white paper. Remember, your goal here is to make your white paper as impactful as possible, starting with the very first words that your writer sees. Have fun with this process and see what amazing white paper titles you come up with using Chat GPT. 8. Write a compelling introduction: What's the most important page in any novel? It's the first page. The first page is the one that must grab attention, introduced the protagonist, and introduce the conflict. What's the most important page in a marketing white paper? The introduction. Your introduction is the page that must grab someone's attention. It must name your problem and outline how you are going to help your reader. Let's look at each of these three vital roles. In order. First, your introduction must grab your reader's attention With her opening sentence or with your opening paragraph, you must arrest the attention of your reader and compel them to read on. You do this in a number of ways. Keep your first sentence short. Don't test the patient's of your reader with a long winded, convoluted sentence that goes on and on and has lots of independent clauses and parenthetical remarks or is packed with too many facts or as an any other way, just too long and clumsy, just like the sentence that I'm speaking to you right now, period. Say something unusual, take a cliche and turn it on its ear, state a startling statistics or give a piece of advice or make an observation that runs contrary to common wisdom, do something different. Don't repeat the title of your whitepaper. Don't repeat this subtitle and don't start by saying anything about your company. Remember, the goal of your first few sentences is to captivate your audience, pique their curiosity, and entice them to read further. Here's an example from a white paper published by health plus technologies called Seven tough questions every insurer must ask about your next hospital contract. Let's look at the first few lines of the executive summary. When a hospital contract comes across your desk for approval, you naturally focus on one all important question. How much will this cost us? As an insurance company executive, it's your job to ask tough questions about your next hospital contract and to make sure your people do, to skip to the next paragraph. And then there's the toughest question of all. Is the hospital seeking to enhance its revenues at our expense? Most insurers aren't asking these questions today, or at least they're not getting the full answers. Unquote. This opening isn't as strong as it could be. But you see that the writer aims to start strong by raising questions and issues that are top of mind for the reader and by bringing up a vital pain point, most insurers and that may include the reader of the white paper are not asking these questions. After you have grabbed your reader's attention, you must name the problem you are going to address in your white paper. The main goal of a white paper is to help a buyer understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision. To do this, you must start with the challenge that your reader faces. You must name it. You must state the concern or problem that your reader has that you are going to help them solve by them reading your whitepaper. This is absolutely vital. You must state and state immediately why your white paper is relevant to your reader. The easiest way to do this is to name the need or the pain or the challenge that your reader faces right now. Think of this as a single statement that describes their problem. The problem statement names the issue that your whitepaper will address. This will be the problem or the challenge, or the pain that you identified when you decided to write your whitepaper way, way back. The best way to craft this problem statement is to look back at the questions you ask when you chose your topic. What is happening in the market today that concerns your reader? What is about to happen in the near future that concerns your reader? What are companies struggling with most? And why? What are the specific problems? Needs or pain points that your readers are facing right? Now. Let me show you what I mean by looking at that white paper from health plus technologies again, quote, your counterparts on the hospital side, are definitely targeting your contract to generate most of their profit. Because they know they can't get any more money from Medicaid, Medicare, or the uninsured. That's why you owe it to your company to ask some tough questions and get some clear answers, unquote. You can see the pain statement right there. Quote. Your counterparts on the hospital side are definitely targeting your contract to generate most of their profit unquote. After you have grabbed attention and stated the problem, you must outline why your reader should continue reading. The best way to do this is to outline the benefits the reader will get from your white paper. What are the benefits that your readers will enjoy by addressing their pain or need or problem. Name these benefits in outline only help your readers understand why the solution you are going to describe in your white paper is a value to them. Give them a reason to continue reading. Your goal here is to pique curiosity. Only. Remember, this is just your introduction. You're merely introducing the problem and outlining how you're going to solve it. If you like, you can introduce the framework you're going to follow in your white paper. For example. Your white paper may describe three trends followed by three recommendations. Or it might describe five myths about an industry topic followed by five truths that debunk those myths. Your aim is to help your reader follow your thought process and understand how you have organized your white paper to help them solve their problem. Here's an example of what I mean from a white paper from machine vision. It's called choosing the right image acquisition technology. The white paper begins with a three paragraph introduction that states the problem, hints at the solution and describes how the white paper addresses the issue. Now if you look down at the third paragraph, it says, quote, this white paper will focus on one of the key processes within the vision system, the image acquisition process. And more specifically, on the image acquisition board, the frame grabber and its related software. It will outline the critical functions that these components play and discuss some of the recent engineering innovations being deployed to significantly increase the reliability of this process. Unquote, that's a long sentence. Then the writer lists five functions that will be discussed in that white paper. In the same way that the most important page in a novel is the first page. The most important page in your marketing white paper is your introduction. Your introduction is the page that must grab attention, named the problem, and outline how you're going to help your reader. When you have a strong introduction, you have a hooked reader. So if your goal is to have prospects read your white paper, write a strong introduction. 9. Give your white paper context: Has this ever happened to you? You're with your spouse or a good friend. They start telling you something. As you listen, you realize that you have no idea what they're talking about. They might be talking about someone you both know. It might even be talking about a place that you both know. But other than that, you have no idea why they are talking about what they are talking about. Has that ever happened to you? If you're like me, you have to stop the speaker very politely and say something like, I'm sorry, but you've lost me here. I don't understand what you're talking about. Can you please fill me in on some detail so I understand where you're headed, why you're taking this conversation where it is, what I have done is asked my spouse or my friend For context of ask them for some background because any conversation, unless it is based on a common set of facts and assumptions is hard to understand. When you sit down to write a marketing whitepaper, you follow a logical order. You write a title that names a problem and hints at a solution. You create a table of contents that outlines your document. You write an executive summary that summarizes your document. You write an introduction that introduces your topic, names a problem, and outlines a solution. If you're like many writers, you're now tempted to write the solution part of your white paper. You've just named the problem, but you're going to be addressing, and now you want to address it. But going from your introduction right to your solution skips a vital step. Context, background. You must assume that some of your readers will not be as familiar with your topic as other readers are. You must assume that some of your readers are in the position you are in when someone is talking to you about someone you know, or a place you know, but you don't have a clue what they are talking about. You need context and you need background. In your white paper. You may need to describe a trend that brought us to where we are today. You may need to define some key terms that are unfamiliar to some of your audience. You do this with a section of your white paper, which we call the background section. Here's an example of what I mean. It's a white paper called how CIOs can improve supply chain management even with a tight IT budget. The white paper begins with the problem statement. Nearly all CIOs today are under pressure to contain costs. In fact, many are being asked to cut IT budgets by 20 percent. But the challenges of dealing with the recession have not gone away even if the budget has. In fact, these have become more acute. The writer now States the solution. This white paper looks at one way. Cios can roll out significantly more powerful supply chain functions at an affordable cost by extending existing systems with specialized software delivered as a service. As you scroll down to the next section, you may be expecting to see a description of the solution, but you don't. That's because this writer knows that some readers need context and background before understanding the solution. So the writer gives you background on the issues at hand. The writer does this in a section called the limitations of traditional tools. Excel, not robust enough. Erp focused on transactions, legacy planning designed for yesterday. The righter than supplies. A table that describes the four types of software used for sales and operations planning. At the bottom of the page, the writer names the solution again. Software as a Service can be a game-changing alternative to the traditional ways of buying and using enterprise software. And as you scroll down, you see that the background section is followed by the solution section. Extending your sales and operations planning with Software as a Service. Here's another example from a white paper about Hyperledger blockchain performance metrics. That's a mouthful. The white paper begins with an introduction that introduces the topic and describes the problem. While block chains may appear similar to distributed databases, they are typically implemented without a central authority, central repository. This makes measuring and comparing performance between different blockchains very difficult, unquote. The righter than outlines the solution to help precisely and consistently evaluate the unique performance attributes of block chains. This paper defines many relevant terms and metrics and discusses some complex issues. But the writer doesn't jump from the problem to the solution. First, the writer makes sure that all readers are working from the same set of definitions and terms. Only then can the writer expect the readers to understand the solution. The writer first defines blockchain terms, then gives definitions of key metrics. After giving this background and context, the rider moves on to discussing the solution in a section of the white paper called considerations for block chain performance measurement. Not every white paper you write needs a background section. For some of you are white papers. Terms, definitions, and trends are well understood by everyone in your industry. If this is the case, leave it out. But if the topic of your white paper is novel, if you are taking a unique spin on the status quo, you may need to give your readers some context before you jump into your discussion of solutions. You may need to describe the events or trends that brought us to where we are today. You may need to define some new terms or give a name to a new problem. Your background section doesn't have to be a section either. Sometimes all you need is a sidebar like this. It is highlighted in blue to show that it's a standalone piece of the document. It takes only half a page. Remember, a white paper is a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution. You can only be persuasive and authoritative with your readers if they understand what you are taught. To do that, give your readers context and background. They will thank you for it. 10. Describe your solution: A white paper is a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution. Effective white papers name the problem in their title. Introduce the problem in their introduction, and give the context to the problem in their background section. Then they addressed the problem by offering solutions. White papers do this in a section of the white paper that you could call the solution section. Marketing white papers help buyers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision. White papers attract potential buyers to accompany by offering authoritative answers to buyers questions. So when you come to write this section of your white paper, think of it in terms of problem, solution or question answer. Here's how you do it. Introduce the solution or solutions using an introductory paragraph or to include a clear definition. If your solution involves a framework or a model, describe it. In your introduction, then give a detailed description of each part of the solution. If needed, break your solution into subsections or subcategories to help your readers make sense of this section. Subcategories help your audience follow your thought process and absorb your contents. Clearly describe the benefits of each solution that you propose. Describe how each solution benefits your reader. Be specific. Use case studies to prove your points. Speaking of case studies, This section is where you provide specific real-world examples to support your solution. These examples must be specific and plausible. Look for examples, facts, figures, statistics, and other evidence that backs up what you're proposing and answers the questions and problems that you pose in your white paper. This is a white paper published by Google. It's called the arrival of real-time bidding and what it means for media buyers. You can see from the table of contents of this white paper that the writer follows a logical structure. Part 1, real-time bidding is here to stay. Part to real-time bidding is a technology. Part 3, clearing up the fuzzy terms. Part 4. It's the process that matters. Part 5, how to do real-time bidding. Part 6, real-time bidding with Google. As you can see, Part 1 introduces the topic and describes the problem. Parts 2, 3, and 4 give background and contexts. Part 5 offers solutions. As you can see they say, in how to do real-time bidding, we defined three paths to take, to benefit from real-time bidding. Notice that phrase, we define three paths to take. This is the solutions section of the white paper, where Google makes recommendations on how to solve the problem that the white paper introduces and discusses. You can see when you scroll down to this section of the whitepaper, that they lay out the three paths simply and clearly, making it easy for you as a reader to immediately grasp each recommendation. Here's another example of a white paper that follows a logical structure. Salma shows in their table of contents that they're white paper starts by defining the problem, gives you background, defines terms, describes the current landscape, and then moves onto recommendations. Here on page 18 is where you find the solutions that this company recommends. Quote, what you need to deliver omni-channel, unquote. Sometimes the structure of your solution section is made easy because of the title of your whitepaper. This white paper from Salesforce, for example, promises to deliver six keys to sales and marketing alignment. Not surely, you're going to find these six keys in the solution section of the white paper. And this brings up a vital point. The best way to think about your white paper is by thinking of it as answering your reader's questions. Think of the questions audience is asking right now, and then write your white paper with the goal of answering those exact questions. One of the best ways of deciding what you will include in your solution section is to think about what you're going to call your white papers, kind of a back to front way of doing it. Your title has to give your potential readers a powerful incentive to download and read your white paper. The best titles promised readers a benefit. Remember, the goal of your white paper is to help buyers understand an issue, solve a problem, make a decision. So when you come to writing the solution section of your whitepaper, think in those terms. What do you want your readers to understand? How do you recommend they solve their problem? What steps must they take to make their decision? Think of what your readers need from you, then meet their needs with a white paper that describes the problem in the introduction, solves the problem in the solution section. 11. End with a call to action: If you go online and search for a definition of marketing white paper, you'll find that definition. That sounds something like this. A whitepaper is an impartial, persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution. There's just one thing missing from that definition, and that is the intent behind a white paper. The purpose of a whitepaper? Yes. You write white papers to help buyers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision. But why? Why does your organization wants to help buyers understand an issue or solve a problem or make a decision. Why do you want to do that? You may answer. Because we want to position ourselves, our organization or company, as a trusted authority on this topic. That's all very well. But remember that the main goal of a marketing whitepaper is to generate leads. Yes, you want your white paper to position your business as knowledgeable and trustworthy and helpful. But if you're white paper does not generate any qualified leads or not enough leads, it's a dud. Your challenge with white papers, of course, is that they should be impartial and unbiased. They should be, as the saying goes, vendor agnostic. The major difference between a white paper and just about every other kind of promotional copy you'll ever write as a copywriter, is that white papers don't promote your brand or your products or your services directly. This means that your title, your introduction, your problem statement, your background section, and your solution section should not promote your company or what you do or what you're offering. You're thinking, Alan, if I don't mentioned my company and my white paper, how does the White Paper generate leads? The answer is, you do this in your conclusion. Your conclusion is the last major part of your white paper. It comes at the end of your document. Your conclusion is where you describe the explicit link between your company and what you've been discussing in your white paper. Your conclusion is where you explain why the reader should consider your company as a viable solution to the issues that you've raised in your white paper. Begin your conclusion by summarizing your whitepaper. Reiterate your problem statement and your solution. Summarize your recommendations, then transition or segue into a description of how your firm can help the reader solve the very issues you addressed in your whitepaper. Some white papers do this with a short, simple company bio. Other white papers go into more detail. Either way, you must make the connection between the problem you have addressed in your white paper and the solutions that your company offers, then you must tell your readers what to do next. Remember, everyone who reads your white paper is somewhere on their buyer journey. You must tell them what the next step is and how to take it. You do this at the end of your white paper with a call to action. Direct your reader to a free resource on your website. For example. Invite them to pick up the phone and call you for a free consultation. Direct them to a webpage where they sign up for a free demo. Whatever you do, tell your readers what the next step is and tell them how to take it. Let me show you some examples. Here's a white paper published by Salesforce. It's called six keys, the sales and marketing alignment. Salesforce as a cloud-based tool that organizations use to manage their sales and marketing. But this white paper isn't about Salesforce as a tool. It's not a brochure. It's about six best practices for getting the sales team and the marketing team to work together. As you can see at the end of this white paper, Salesforce concludes by summarizing the white paper quotes. Technology is pushing sales and marketing departments. Closer together, whether they are ready for it or not. Aligning these two departments is one of the most crucial initiatives a business can undertake with proper communication between teams. And the right marketing automation tool here you're, you're starting here at sales and marketing can move from struggling rival departments to one cohesive revenue generating machine. Close more leads, lose fewer opportunities, speed up your sales cycle, and drive more revenue. All by putting marketing and sales on the same team, unquote. Then you see that they have a call to action button. Take a guided tour. And then on the final page, they describe how their tool called Pardo, helps you deliver smarter marketing and drive better results. Salesforce has not made the link between their white paper topic and their product offering explicit. For example, they've not described how salesforce is a tool that helps you achieve sales and marketing alignment. They haven't said that explicitly, but they have included a conclusion. They have described their company and they have included a call to action. Here's another example from Cisco. It's a white paper about securing the edge of your network and how that gives you a competitive edge. As you can see, the white paper ends with a conclusion that summarizes the findings and recommendations found in the white paper. Quote, customer experience, business insights, security automation, agility, innovation, cost reduction, revenue generation. The reasons for investing in a modern, secure digital network are as numerous as they are varied between them, however, they all share a common theme. The digital world will not wait for those who sit on the fence, unquote. Then the author describes Cisco's offering and describes how it answers the needs and challenges that are discussed in this white paper and summarized in the conclusion. That page is titled Cisco DNA. And that's not the greatest title, is it? Remember, you need to segue from the topic of your white paper to your company's products and services. This white paper is called networking and your competitive edge. So a better title for this section of the white paper would be how Cisco's digital network architecture gives you a competitive edge. The last page of the white paper features a call to action. Actually, it features to calls to action. Learn more about Cisco is DNA. And there's a link to the page on their website that describes this product. The problem with this link is that it looks like it takes you to cisco.com, but it actually takes you here. The link takes you to the page you want, but the URL in the white paper looks as though clicking on it in the PDF will take you to the Cisco homepage. Now, there's nothing wrong with shortening a URL to make it look attractive. But if you are directing readers to a specific page on your website, don't give the impression that if they click on that link, you're just gonna take them to your homepage because that's not helpful to most of your readers. As I said, this page features to calls to action. The second one is an invitation to take an assessment to see if your network is digital ready. Clicking on that text in the PDF takes you to the assessment page on the Cisco website. Cisco includes two calls to action because this white paper has two audiences. One audience is that the decision stage of the buyer journey at the end, they will be interested in the first call to action because they are comparing vendors and solutions, they're getting ready to decide. The second reader is at the beginning of their bar journey at the awareness stage, and is likely interested in learning more about the problem that they have. They aren't ready to start looking at vendors just yet. I don't want to talk to a salesperson. Generally speaking, your white paper should have just one call to action. You don't want to confuse your readers with too many things to do. But in this case with Cisco, featuring two calls to action might work. This is something that you should test. As you finish writing your white paper, think of what your reader needs. Next. Anticipate where your readers are in their buying journey and offer them something of value to encourage them to take that next step. With you. Remember, white papers are simply one part of what is typically a lengthy buying process. Something brought your potential buyer to your white paper and your potential buyers have somewhere to go after your whitepaper, tell them what that is and tell them what they need to do to take that next step. Do this with a relevant, compelling call to action. At the end of your white paper. 12. Write like a designer: If you've been given the job of writing a marketing white paper, you need to look at your writing assignment. The way that a graphic designer does. That's because effective white papers contain more than just text. And because even parts of the white paper that our text are going to be rendered by the graphic artist as design elements on the page or on the screen. This means that as you sit down to write your white paper, you need to be thinking visually. You need to picture what your words are going to look like on the page and then craft your words in a way that makes your whitepaper easier to read, easier to understand, and easier on the eye. Let's look at your writing from a designer's point of view. We'll start with sidebars. A sidebar is a short article in a newspaper or magazine is typically boxed and it's placed alongside of the main article and it contains additional or explanatory material. Here's an example of a sidebar from a white paper published by LinkedIn. As you can see, the first few pages of this white paper are simply columns of text. But on page 6, the writer knows that a term that's used throughout the white paper needs a definition. That term is full funnel marketing. But instead of just writing this definition as yet another paragraph in the document, the writer sets it off as a sidebar. Here on the right-hand side of the page, you see the definition. Notice that the definition is set in white type on a darker background and takes the form of a question. This is a perfect example of writing like a designer. This is a perfect example of writing a block of text, knowing that it will work best as a sidebar as opposed to a simple piece of copy in the main text. In this same whitepaper, you find another sidebar on page 12. This one discusses the five W's of interrogative investigation. Remember a sidebar as a short article, typically boxed and placed alongside the main article and containing additional or explanatory material. And that's what this sidebar does. The next type of visual element is pull quotes. A pull quote is a brief, eye-catching quotation, typically in a distinctive typeface taken from the main text of an article and used as a subhead or as a graphic feature. Notice that definition, a pull quote is a, is designed to be attention catching and it acts as a design element. Here's an example of a pull quote from a whitepaper on hyper converged infrastructure. Notice that it's set off from the main text in a small box and it acts as a design element. Notice that the quote appears between quotation marks. Here's an example of a pull quote from a white paper on ERP systems. It appears all on its own as a design element on the page. Here's another example, a pull quote from a white paper on mistakes to avoid when building out your office. It appears on the page like a subhead, but in a box with a background image so that it stands out on the page here. The final example from a white paper on why you need an omni-channel strategy. Notice how the designer makes this quote standout from the rest of the text on the page by setting the type in white against a dark background. And by using an extra large opening quotation mark as a design element. When you are writing your white paper, look for sentences that will make powerful pull quotes. And by the way, a pull quote doesn't have to be a quote of something that you've said in the document. It can simply be a sentence or two that you write or that you pull from the text and set off from the rest of the content on the page to attract attention and act as a design element. The next way you should write as though you are a designer is to think in terms of info, graphics. Check out this white paper from Cisco. It features many pages that turn regular text. Into design elements by transforming them into info graphics. An infographic is an image that uses multiple icons and typographic elements to represent information or data. In this white paper, Cisco renders the table of contents as an infographic. You'll agree that this table of contents is much more interesting to look at than a simple table of contents that consists of text only. On page 4 of this white paper, the designer takes three points made by the writer, brings them to life with an oversized numeral three. Then the numerals 1, 2, and 3 with a corresponding icon for each points. This is a great example of a simple 3 list transformed into a visually appealing design element in the form of an infographic. Here's another example. This one from a company called cellmate. It takes a bunch of statistics, facts and figures, and renders them on the page as a unified infographic. I think you'll agree that presenting your words in this way makes them easier to understand and makes them visually more appealing. When you are writing your white paper. Anytime you have to cite a bunch of statistics, or anytime you have to list three or more things, consider turning them into an infographic. You don't have to do the design. Of course, simply add an editorial note in your text that tells your designer to render this piece of text as an info graphic. And this brings us to tables, charts and diagrams. If you want to, you can drop tables, charts and diagrams into your text and render them just as they are. But this tends to make your white paper just a bunch of text and tables, which is not all that attractive or appealing for your readers to look at. Instead, render boring old tables, charts, and diagrams as interesting graphic elements. Look at this example from a white paper by Solman. It's communicating the idea that 50 percent of Australian consumers use at least five channels to engage with brands. Notice how the visual communicates Australia as an idea. And 50 percent of Australia and five channels in a visual way. Here's another example of rendering boring old stats. In a visual way. Notice the use of icons, percentages, and text to communicate something that you could communicate with words only. But done this way, the page and the words on the page look a lot more interesting. Here's a final example from LinkedIn. Notice how the designer takes the percentages and renders them as graphic elements. So here's what you do. Anytime you have to communicate statistics, facts, or figures in the form of a table or a chart or a diagram. Think of a creative way to present that information visually. Then tell your designer how to render it. Remember, as you sit down to write your white paper, you need to think visually. You need to picture what your words are going to look like on the page and then craft your words in a way that makes your white paper easier to read, easier to understand, and easier on the eye. Do that. And you will write an effective whitepaper. 13. Five mistakes to avoid: If you have been asked to write a marketing whitepaper, you know by now that there are many things you have to get right. But there are also many mistakes that you need to avoid. A marketing white paper you'll remember is an impartial, persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution. To write an effective white paper, you must choose a topic that is relevant and compelling to your target audience. You must craft a compelling title. You must describe a problem and offer a solution. Now let's look at some of the mistakes that you must avoid. First on the list is hype. Hype is extravagant or intensive, publicity or promotion. A white paper that is, height, is a whitepaper that promotes or publicizes a product or service or idea intensively, often exaggerating its importance or benefits. Here's an example of what I mean. This white paper is from a company called tune. Their title, tune the block chains music solution. Not a solution, but the solution. That's hype. Here's another example. This one from a company called verve. Their product is called flux. They call it the evolution of energy. Again, hype. The reason you need to avoid hype is that white papers are impartial and authoritative. You can't be impartial if you're white paper makes extravagant claims, no one will consider you an authority. If you exaggerate. The next mistake you must avoid is marketing buzzwords. I'm talking about the buzzwords and cliches that wreck your white paper because they are meaningless. Here's an example. Our agency offers a range of out of the box bleeding edge products that help CMOs leverage synergies for global brands and enabling them to incentivize staff and up to my solutions that pick low hanging fruit in this new paradigm. A marketing buzzword is a word or phrase that is fashionable at a particular time or in a particular context. The trouble is, buzzwords soon get overused and they become meaningless. What, for example, does incentivize mean or bleeding edge? How exactly does anyone optimize solutions? Would you recognize a paradigm if you ever saw one? And why are we still talking about thinking outside the box more than two decades after that expression was coined. You may think that using the latest buzzwords in your white paper makes you appear competent or in the know or trendy. But it doesn't. Buzzwords simply make your meaning harder to discern. The rule to follow with any buzzword is simple. If everyone else is using it, don't. The next blunder that you must avoid in your white paper is selling. Remember the major difference between a white paper and just about every other piece of promotional copy you'll ever write as a copywriter, is that white papers don't promote a brand, a product, or a service. A good white paper is impartial. It neither promotes a particular company nor criticizes other companies. A good white paper is impartial, objective, unbiased. As soon as you mentioned your company, your product, or your service, you're selling. And as soon as you start selling, you lose your reader. That's because readers of white papers want to be educated not to be sold something. Again, unlike the kind of copy that you typically write as a copywriter, a white paper is written to inform not to sell. The goal of a white paper is to make recommendations not to persuade someone to buy something. This brings me to our next mistake and that is knocking your competitors. Some writers of marketing white papers avoid talking about their company or their products, but they make up for that by criticizing their competitors. This is obviously a mistake because white papers are supposed to be objective, not biased, impartial, not partial. The final mistake you must avoid in writing your marketing white paper is emitting or forgetting to cite your sources. I know the temptation here. One of your goals and your white paper is to be perceived as an authority. And one of the quickest ways to do that is to cite the latest statistics about your industry. When you cite the latest statistics, that makes you sound like you understand your industry and that you are up to date on the latest trends. But unless you cite your sources, you put yourself at risk. First of all, readers will wonder where you got your statistics. They may even think you made them up and you'll lose trust. Other readers will recognize your statistics. They will know where you got them and they will assume you're passing on this research of someone else as your own, you'll lose trust and credibility. And finally, the organization that you are quoting in your white paper. If you don't give them any credit, if you don't cite them as your source, they may sue you for copyright infringement, not cut. The irony is that citing your sources delivers all the benefits that not citing them takes away. For example, look at this white paper from LinkedIn. The white paper is about content marketing, and LinkedIn is one of the most popular platforms that marketers use for distributing their contents. This white paper is filled with facts and figures and the opinions from authorities in the industry. But LinkedIn does not quote these facts and figures and opinions anonymously to make LinkedIn sound like they are authoritative. Instead, they make themselves sound authoritative by citing their sources. This page, for example, cites the Content Marketing Institute. This page sites advertising H, and this page sites Forrester Research. The cumulative effect of all of these cited sources is authority and trust. Readers of this whitepaper are likely to see LinkedIn as a trustworthy authority on the subject of content marketing. That's it. Avoid these common blunders and you will write a white paper that establishes authority, builds trust, and generates leads.