September 2, 2014

Writing a White Paper: 5 Techniques to Reach Your Target Audience

white papers

White paper – reads like a magazine, but converts like an ad.

Have you ever read a document that was informative like a magazine article, but convincing like an advertisement?  Chances are you read a white paper.  Many people aren’t familiar with the term white paper but a white paper represents an important marketing tool for all types of businesses.

A white paper informs the reader of a product or service to convince them that it represents the best product on the market, and that it will solve a specific problem – their problem.  When writing a white paper, you need to tailor your writing to your target audience.  Check out these five handy techniques for writing white papers that will help you achieve your goals and the goals of the company.

1. Make your headline pop.  Headlines are the most important part of a white paper.  A good headline will grab the reader’s attention and make him want to know more.  It suggests the main idea without revealing the whole story.  It doesn’t matter how great your content, if your paper features weak headlines, the reader will move on to something else.

2. Keep it simple.  Write your white paper in a style and tone that readers relate to and can read easily.  Omit any technical terms or insider jargon that may confuse the reader or cause him to lose interest.  You want the reader to reach the conclusion, not give up after the first paragraph because it’s too confusing.  Use plain English to make it easily digestible and add bullet points to add visual appeal.

3. Forget the features.  The majority of readers don’t care about the technical details of a product.  They want to know how the product will benefit them and meet their needs.  A white paper filled with stats, figures and lengthy technical descriptions will put the reader to sleep.  For example, instead of explaining a particular safety feature of a vehicle, tell the reader how this vehicle will keep their family safe.

4. Be concise.  When writing a white paper, stick to the topic without becoming too long-winded.  Readers want the most information in the shortest amount of time.  Give him or her just enough details to prove your point and reach your conclusion.  If you spend several pages talking about the product, the reader will probably lose interest and you will lose your chance to show them how your product fits their needs. Get in and get out.

5. Focus on the customer.  Don’t make this paper about you—make it about the customer.  Show your customer that the company understands his pain and has created a product or service that will alleviate the pain and fix the problem.

By incorporating these five techniques into your white paper, you will produce an informative, yet interesting, document that reaches your target audience and ignites their desire to buy from you.

About Michael Taulier

Michael is a freelance writer and professional resume editor. He enjoys writing for clients on a wide variety of topics, but specializes in writing for the health care industry. With a classic education and training as an historian, he's got what it takes to add an intangible "certain something" to his work that gives a powerful layer of meaning and effectiveness to the final story. Read more about Michael at The Refined Writer .

Comments

  1. #3 is so important – what will BENEFIT the READER and make them click to purchase. Of course the others are important too but #3 is where I’m trying to improve.
    Lisa recently posted..What Will Separate Your Blog or Pumpkin From Another?My Profile

    • Thanks for your comment, Lisa. Describing the benefits to the reader is something I think all writers struggle with. I know I do. It’s easier to talk about the how great the service or product is while neglecting to address how these will help the reader.

      When writing white papers, the reader should be the priority. Everything else should be secondary.

  2. I have been hearing about white papers but never quite understood what they are. Very helpful post!

    • I’m glad I could help. Learning how to write white papers is good for any freelance writer who might be looking to acquire new skills and expand his/her business.

  3. Marnie Byod says:

    Your headline could be your key. Once made properly and wisely.
    Then it can caught the attention of the readers!
    Anyway, nice tips here!
    Marnie Byod recently posted..Brisbane Home Sellers – Now is the time to Renovate to SellMy Profile

    • Hi Marnie! Yes, Michael did a great job with this primer on how to produce a compelling white paper. I, too, think headline is key. I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. We’ll have more great tips and stories each week. ~Samantha

      • Standing in line at the grocery store can be a great time to study headlines. I think the people who write headlines for magazines like ‘People’ and ‘Us’ are brilliant. Their headlines make you want to read the magazine even if you have no interest in the content.

        Headlines will make or break an article. They should offer courses on headline writing!

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