Science-Based Marketing: 4 Signs of a Compelling Whitepaper
The current trend in marketing right now is the practice of value-added marketing. In practice, value-added marketing is refreshingly simple. Instead of engaging in marketing practices where the focus is on the brands and their products and services, value-added marketing shifts the focus on customers; providing contents that aim to entertain and educate the customers. Unlike traditional marketing, value-added marketing has the advantages of making your customers feel like they're not wasting their time by simply consuming fluff and make companies seem like they actually know why they're doing by allowing them to showcase their expertise.
Now as brands try to one-up each other in the practice of value-added marketing, this has given rise to the trend of whitepaper in marketing, where brands publish an authoritative report on an issue within their industry that is meant to showcase their point of view in the matter. Think of whitepapers as a abridged version of your dissertation or thesis and you'd be right in the money. As a tool in content marketing, whitepaper can be especially powerful but as with the process of writing your dissertation, they can quite a pain in the backside as well.
The art of writing a whitepaper
During the process of writing your dissertation, you are not technically required to make them as compelling as possible. If the intention is to publish the dissertation on scientific journals then yes, perhaps you're going to have to butter up the dissertation here and there but really, in a scientific dissertation, the result of the study should speak for itself. In a marketing whitepaper however, that would not be enough as you also have to present the results of your study in a compelling way the same way you would with other contents.
In short, there's an art in writing whitepaper and it's best to consider whitepaper using two different angles. Whitepaper is either a scientific paper presented like a blog post or a blog post that's been supercharged to the eleven with additional data, research and several charts and graphs for good measure. To say that writing a good whitepaper can be hard is an understatement as that's akin to making a three course meal with the quality of a fine dining establishment using canned food only. To succeed in your content marketing efforts, you might want to take note of the 4 common characteristics of a compelling white paper.
The issue their tackling should be of grave importance to the public
The whole practice of value-added marketing hinges on the simple fact that it should focus on the customers and their needs and desires. As such, you first want to make sure that the question you're answering or the solution you're proposing in your whitepaper is actually a matter of considerable importance to your intended market. It's not rare for businesses to mistakenly use whitepapers as simply another opportunity for them to flex their muscles and showcase their expertise while tackling a subject that isn't all that important.
The best kind of whitepaper takes into account customer's anxieties and worries and aim to alleviate them by presenting a possible solution. It's also important for whitepapers to tackle something that's still a bit of an unknown or about an issue that hasn't turned into a problem yet but will surely be one in the near future. For example, a professional consultancy services from the UK might write about what a no-deal Brexit could mean to a specific industry in order to help players within that industry be protected from the potential fallout of a no-deal Brexit.
Write as if you're talking to a 12-year-old
This is another important difference between a scientific paper and a whitepaper. In writing a scientific paper, you don't have to worry about having to simplify the language because chances are your paper is just going to be read by your peers within the field. Whitepaper on the other hand is written for the general public and as such, you want to make sure that the contents of the paper would still be understandable even to those with little familiarity to your industry. In fact, it's a good idea to keep your writing from getting a little too technical in general as you don't want to end up with a dry, boring piece of writing which could definitely turn people off.
Include a rallying cry for action
Here is where the marketing part in whitepaper marketing comes to the surface. Once all is said and done, the goal of the whitepaper is to encourage potential customers to take action, preferably with the entity that is behind the whitepaper itself, namely, you. You shouldn't include an obvious sales pitch at the end of your whitepaper but the conclusion of the white paper should, in theory, inform readers on why your business, your products and/or your services could help them with the problem posed in the whitepaper.
It's here where your writing ability would be put to the task as the whitepaper should ideally functions as the customer's journey. First, they are informed of an issue that could potentially transform their industry. As they fall deeper and deeper into this rabbit hole, they are informed of the potential consequences of not taking this issue seriously and at the end of the journey, they're presented with a possible solution in the form of your expertise. Each section of the whitepaper should reflect this journey with your business welcoming them with open arms at the other end.
Presented in a format that's easy to read
This isn't about the kind of words you're using but more about how those words are presented in the paper. Remember, the idea is to make the whitepaper compelling and to sustain the interest of the reader all throughout the paper. Try to insert breaks between long texts with illustrations, charts or important quotes to break the monotony. Sometimes, there's nothing you can do to make the topic of your whitepaper more interesting and in times like these, you're going to have to rely on the presentation of the whitepaper to make them more palatable to readers.