The quality of your white paper reflects the quality of your business.
If you are not prepared to invest in your authoritative statement to the World, it shows.
This is your opportunity to command respect gain the trust of the clients who matter to you. If you regard your white paper as just another piece of content or simply another sales brochure, that will be detected by the reader you are trying to impress. Sloppy writing, poor grammar or claims not supported by hard facts and meticulous research cannot be hidden behind a glossy cover and a slick marketing slogan.
There are many vehicles for advertising your products and services, and a time and a place for smart taglines and feel-good marketing. However, the white paper is neither the time nor the place!
This is the platform on which you present the evidence and the cold, reasoned argument for the service you provide. Any statement made on white papers should be under-pinned by fact and direct references. The language is formal, logical and detached. Remember, your reader probably has a handful of white papers obtained from your competitors and will quickly be able to assess whether your tone, facts and figures meet the expectations required by the industry. If your white paper falls short of those industry standards, you are giving your client a strong reason to dismiss the content immediately.
That may sound harsh, and you may protest that it’s the quality of the service that counts, not the presentation. That’s true, but remember that first impressions are lasting impressions and, with only a few minutes to scan each paper, most buyers and CEO’s have no alternative but to literally ‘judge the book by its cover’.
Imagine you submitted your resume on a couple of hastily-typed sides of A4, without addressing the requirements of the job description and without proof-reading the text. With so many other resumes in front of them, you are simply handing the recruiter the chance to eliminate your application instantly.
White papers should not be regarded as disposable business-to-business copy. They should form the basis of your company presentation and the solid foundation on which all of your other b2b marketing is based. If you invest in a good white paper writer, you should have a high-quality document that will show how seriously you take your craft and how much you respect your potential customers.
This will be your shop window for years. Get it right first time.
How to hire a white paper copywriter
First and foremost, a good white paper writer will be knowledgeable about the purpose of a white paper and the expectations of the industry. They will know that a white paper must present one solution to one problem to one audience. If they try to answer more than one question or endeavor to appeal to everyone from sales representatives to technical staff, the message will be compromised and diluted.
They will also be aware of the fact that white papers require extensive research and background reading. Make sure you hire a writer who includes their reading time in the quote. Avoid anyone who simply charges an hourly rate for the writing. If they do research at all, they will do it half-heartedly with the reluctance that comes from knowing they aren’t being paid for it!
Don’t be tempted to save money by just hiring a writer or going with the copywriter who writes your sales copy. Any attempt to promote your business or your services will kill the effect of the white paper writing stone dead. It is acceptable to insert a call to action in the conclusion and to add your branding and website details on the header or footer, but, apart from that, a b2b copywriter should know the tone and detached gravitas required for the writing.
Remember what you are paying for:
1. Experience: In depth understanding of the aims and standards of a white paper
2. Excellent command of formal written English. Ask to see samples of similar work.
3. Ability to support any claims with clearly-indexed references
4. Attention to detail
5. Commitment to getting it right –and willingness to re-draft if necessary