The Whitepaper has its origins in politics: positions were summarized on a few pages and supported with data, facts and figures. In the 1970s, the IT industry adapted the format to present technical advances and innovations.
Today, the Whitepaper is a versatile marketing tool, offering companies in a wide range of industries the opportunity to establish expert status in a field of their own choosing. The format offers plenty of space for the detailed discussion of a topic and skillfully showcases, for example, a company’s own studies, infographics or checklists.
But to ensure that the wealth of information given shines in a clear appearance, certain guidelines should be followed. It doesn’t matter whether the white paper is written by an employee or by an external communications professional: Careful research and good preparation are key. We developed a Whitepaper for the payment expert Concardis and these are our derived tips for you:
Good preparation is half the paper
In order to create a convincing Whitepaper, it is essential to search through existing specialist literature, journals and the Internet on the topic and also to consult experts. Once the in-depth research has been completed and the direction of the content has been determined with an informative outline of all subtopics, the following points should be clarified before writing begins:
What materials are already available?
Custom-created infographics, checklists, case studies, or blogposts are valuable fodder for the Whitepaper format. They can liven up dry text deserts with interesting images and information.
At Concardis, we were fortunate that valuable insights were already available in the form of studies and blog posts, and we were able to acquire initial knowledge.
Who should be addressed?
Carefully determining the target group is crucial, because the preparation of the content is based on it. Is my target audience already familiar with the topic or do I want to address new customers, for example? This is the basis for deciding whether the paper should start with the basics of the topic, for example, or whether basic knowledge is assumed on the part of the reader.
The target readership at Concardis were medium-sized companies and our goal was to demonstrate the possibilities of cashless payment. This knowledge was important when writing the texts in order to better address the needs of the target group.
What added value does my Whitepaper bring?
A successful Whitepaper should bring added value to the reader and, in the best case, solve a problem. What challenge do I want to help my target group with? What are their needs and how can I address them? Technical Whitepaper, as the name suggests, contain detailed technical information. The solution-oriented Whitepaper specializes in an issue that needs improvement.
The primary aim of our Whitepaper for Concardis was to show readers and merchants how they can make payment and operational processes even simpler and easier for their customers. To further highlight their capabilities, we created a digitalization test to work out what type of merchant the readers are.
If an external author takes over the writing of the Whitepaper, a careful briefing is essential. In this, existing information, materials and expectations should be exchanged and technical questions clarified. Once all the information has been gathered, a large part of the work is done and it is usually no longer difficult to get started.
Score with the target group with the right language style
Based on the target group, the choice of language style is crucial: Experienced professionals and scientists value detailed (technical) content and analyses that are fully discussed and comprehensible down to the smallest detail. Business people with little time are more likely to be convinced by concise facts and a structure that is as short and concise as possible. Should readers be addressed by their first name or by their last name? And what tone of voice appeals to the target group?
In the kick-off with Concardis, we therefore took a closer look at their corporate values: simple, customer-oriented, reliable, powerful. These values should also be reflected in the language and writing style. We therefore also implemented this brand voice in the text by writing in a way that was close, pictorial, easy to understand, well-founded, but not too scientific. Since Concardis also addresses its customers as “you” on all other channels, we also used the “you” form in the Whitepaper.
The eye reads along – setting the scene for Whitepaper with layout
In addition to the added value of the content, the appearance of a professional Whitepaper should not be neglected. A successful layout includes the presentation of the Whitepaper in the company’s corporate design. And the logo may also be visible on every page and specially created graphics and images are a vivid added value for readers. Not to be forgotten:
Cover page and footer
In addition to an appealing cover page, a footer with a brief company and expert portrait as well as the contact details of all important contacts are also part of a complete Whitepaper.
Size and length
There is no rule of thumb regarding length, and as is often the case, the same applies here: As long as necessary, as short as possible. Most Whitepapers are between five and 15 pages long.
Nice to have
It is always a good idea to include a call-to-action at the end of the paper to lead readers to the company’s website. If the author was supported by helpers, it is appreciated to mention them by name and logo at the end.
When all the points have been worked through and the author is satisfied with the Whitepaper, it is time to send it on its way to the customer’s digital mailbox. This can be done, for example, as a free supplement to the subscription to the company’s own newsletter. Or the Whitepaper can be put on the website for download to appeal to potential new customers. And colleagues will also be grateful if they can use the document as a basis for lectures and presentations. The Whitepaper is a versatile all-rounder that raises the profile of one’s own company and allows experts in their fields to shine.