But when it comes time for big, “white-paper worthy” decisions, it may be time to go easy on the Candy Land infographics and get on the reading glasses. This is not to say that there shouldn’t be any graphics, but there’s nothing wrong with letting white papers just be words sometimes.
Although good papers can contain a mix of informative graphics and words, a white paper that is compelling and text-driven has the following advantages:
- It satisfies some readers’ need for “homework.” Cautious people, such as those about to make large investments or sign large, multi-year contracts, don’t make decisions without first doing their due diligence. They want work. Although a white paper should flow and be easy to read, you don’t want the reader wishing it were longer.
- It controls the information the reader receives. Providing plenty of quality, relevant information in one place can help lessen the chance the reader will need to go searching on their own — and discover something on the Web that discourages them.
- It gives scholarly credibility to sales pitches. In face-to-face meetings, dropping down a heavy document that draws from a deep wealth of sources leaves a great impression. If they don’t choose to read the paper, then they will at least know some thought went with what was presented.
I recommend using no more than one graph, chart, or bulleted list for every 1.5 pages of words. Visual appeal should not be the only thing keeping the reader awake. At the end of the day, the paper should leave the audience’s need for information on the topic pretty damn well satisfied.
What role do you think graphics should play in content marketing?