Most people are familiar with the term “copywriter” and know what they generally do, but what is meant by “white paper”? A white paper is a written report that addresses specific issues or problems, then presents the solutions. It’s a type of content marketing used to increase the sponsor’s visibility in search engine results, to build web traffic.
The term “white paper” started in government, which coded documents to indicate distribution, and papers coded white were meant for public access. In the early 1990s, commercial white papers began being used by businesses for marketing or sales tools. These papers are used in politics, business, and technical fields. The unique feature of a white paper is that it educates, as well as generates sales.
How a White Paper is Structured
A white paper should be around seven pages long. The format begins with the title page and introduction. Next, it presents the problem with the solution, without mentioning the company’s product yet. In the end, there’s a sales pitch where it discusses the company’s product or service. The benefits listed should relate to the challenges presented earlier. The paper ends with a call to action, prompting the customer to either take the next step or check out another piece of content and share it, etc. Including a customer success story packs a punch, as well as including a quote from a happy customer.
Types of White Papers
For commercial purposes, there are three types of white papers: backgrounder, numbered list, and problem/solution. The backgrounder paper discusses the technical benefits of the company’s methodology, service, or product. This type of white paper would be suitable for a product launch, showing how the product best solves the customer’s issues. A numbered list addresses specific questions and tips on a business issue. This type is most advantageous to get attention or show why that company is better than its competitors.
The problem/solution type of white paper presents a new and improved solution to a particular business problem. Its purpose is to create sales leads and build credibility as a voice in a specific industry. In a technical field, white papers inform the customer of how the specific type of technology works. A combination of the two encompasses high-level business benefits with technical details in a single document.
Goals of a White Paper Copywriter
A white paper should educate as well as generate sales. When writing one properly, it can be a useful marketing tool. For the business to business purposes, a white paper can establish the organization as an authority in their industry, leading to sound sales generation. In traditional physical copy mailings that require a potential customer to have to reach out to a salesperson, most will procrastinate or not act at all.
In a white paper, you are offering something of value, free of charge. The business is not selling or pushing anything, and their message is seen in a non-threatening way, making it more likely to be considered. Ideally, this meets the potential client's emotional and rational needs. The client is informed and will in turn look knowledgeable to other colleagues in their industry, although the client didn’t have to do the research themselves.
A white paper copywriter creates copy that educates and informs, giving examples of the problems that the business has the capabilities to solve. It should make the company’s products or services stand out and help to build a brand image, as well as generating sales leads. It should also illustrate how their product or service is above the competition, making them a leader in their industry.