“If you give readers something of value, they will give you their loyalty and ultimately their business.”
Whitepapers. When used properly they’re one of the most effective marketing tools available with the power to generate leads, build brand image and provide value for readers. However, getting the full potential from a whitepaper can be tricky, and the task can seem a daunting one.
Getting your whitepaper off on the right foot can be a great way to make the task easier and so we’ve gathered together some simple steps to help you to tackle the first page.
Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day – you won’t get it perfect on the first attempt, so make sure you plan in time to draft and amend.
Step one: Getting the subject right
First and foremost you must pick a topic that people want to read. There’s no point in spending the time and effort putting a whitepaper together to find that your audience won’t be interested. Ask yourself:
- Who is your audience?
- What is their role within their company?
- What are their key challenges and how do these challenges impact them?
- How can you solve these challenges?
If you need a helping hand, check out two of our previous posts:
Step two: Create an outline
An outline will form the bare bones of your whitepaper; creating a map for content creation and ensuring you stay on course throughout. Treat the outline as a plan and then this can then be shortened and used as a table of contents.
The key to a successful whitepaper outline is to try and include sections that create empathy with the reader, i.e. making them want to read more. If some sections are designed so they themselves can be repurposed into standalone pieces of content (“5 Minute Reads” or “Quick Tips Guide”), it will maximize the potential and lifespan of your whitepaper too.
Step three: Hijack the reader with a headline
People are inundated with information from the internet on a daily basis and this means that you’ll need a strong, eye catching title to set you apart from the rest. For the best results your title needs to tell readers that they’re going to benefit from reading on whilst also being clear and concise. The title can be the difference between whitepaper success and failure, so if you’re struggling, brainstorming with others can help you to find the right fit.
Step four: Crafting the perfect intro
So you’ve decided on the subject and you have an outline – next on the list is the introduction and the importance of this can’t be understated. How many times when reading a whitepaper have you read the introduction and then skipped to the conclusion of to see if it’s worth reading the whole thing? We live in an age of skim reading and so in order to meet your objectives you must ensure that introduction captures the attention of the reader.
Michael Stelzner in his book ‘Writing Whitepapers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged’ identified the four key elements of an introduction:
- Identify the reader – this can be done either by mentioning the audience directly, or simply tailoring the content to their specific needs.
- Summarize the challenge – make sure the reader knows that you understand the problem that they’re facing.
- Summarize the solution – this needs to be a general summary, which doesn’t mention your product specifically.
- State the goal – give an overall outline of what the whitepaper will achieve.
Top tip: it’s not all about you
It’s worth mentioning here that you shouldn’t try to sell straight away. Opening with a sales pitch or your company name can cause distrust and put potential customers off. Instead, you must present your findings or explanation of a problem first, and then work in your specific solution later on.
Once you have these elements in place your first page will be complete, and by doing this you should have a good idea of how your whitepaper will progress.
Want to learn more? Our content creation pack can give you more information about content syndication and B2B marketing.