How to Write a White Paper

Topics: Want, Need, Marketing Pages: 2 (754 words) Published: March 7, 2013
How to Write a White Paper, By the Numbers
By Gordon Graham
Source: You’ll likely know what makes a “classic” white paper: at least five pages of narrative text that delivers useful information about a business issue or technical problem, not a sales pitch.But there’s another approach to writing a white paper: the numbered list. You know what I’m talking about—documents with titles like “5 Secrets of…” or “6 Steps to Success in…” or “7 Ways to Boost Profits with…” I’ve written pieces with all of those titles. They’re popular, because busy people love skimming, scanning and skipping their way through these documents. “If I know there are five secrets, and I’m already on number three, there are only two more to go,” noted one technology executive recently. His comments echo what others have told me: when you have too much to read, too much to do and too much to remember, a list-based white paper is a welcome relief. But a numbered set of tips is very different from a classic white paper. While a classic white paper aims to provide real insight, a numbered list aims only to deliver quick how-to tips. These can be useful, but they may not add up to the same detailed coverage that goes into a classic white paper. What does this mean to a content writer or marketer?

If you have a complex issue to discuss or you want to create a thorough analysis you can use for the next year or two, a classic white paper may be a better choice. But if you need a quick, useful piece of content for a blog or to fulfill some scheduled marketing commitment, you can likely come up with a numbered list very quickly. Design guru and author Roger C. Parker explains how.

“You take a number and a concept, and you just brainstorm. The number provides a framework for you to complete,” advises Parker. “Once you know you need six steps, your brain will help you get to those six.” Here’s a four-step process...
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