The primary challenge in writing white papers is getting the audience to actually read the document. But if you overemphasize this part, you’ll wind up with a document that provides loads of valuable information but doesn’t effectively market anything.
Only a small portion of the text should focus on direct selling, but every word of your white papers should be written with your desired results in mind. Use the following techniques in your white papers to market to your audience without them minding (or even realizing):
- Create an exhaustive list of guidelines. The idea here is to describe the steps necessary to create a desired benefit so comprehensively that re-creating success through other means seems unfeasible. Are you selling a service? Tell about every little thing that a good service of that kind should do. Marketing a product? Create a very specific list of characteristics that buyers should seek. Example summary-statement: Because most insurers lack the specific technology expertise, do not posses the necessary hardware, and cannot efficiently train employees, operation XYZ should be outsourced.
- Go into detail about a market trend. Convince the reader that large-scale changes are occurring their industry and that they need to get on board. Because hard evidence will be limited for emerging practices, logical arguments must be very strong. Example summary-statement: Because of their abundance of data and desperate need to control costs, third-party administrators in the XYZ industry are in a perfect position to embrace this new practice.
- Make available alternatives the focus. Highlight your subject’s primary competitive advantages by making competing options the subject of the paper. Layout and analyze the alternatives, listing the strengths, and especially the weaknesses, of each. Be careful not to appear biased. Example summary-statement: While each support option commonly packaged with ABC-type software has a unique set of pros and cons, only the XYZ product offers the ongoing consultation necessary to achieve breakthrough results.
A reader is not obligated to read your direct advertising simply because you put together a handy guide for them and call it a white paper. Instead, gently guide your audience to a course of action by strategically delivering well-positioned facts.