The 5 key ingredients that make a successful white paper

21 April 2020 | 4 min read | News
Clearly Team

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Producing whitepapers is a unique, impactful tool for businesses across a range of sectors – if curated and presented in the right way. This piece of long-form content is an opportunity to showcase your businesses expertise in a specific area, offering thought-provoking insight and data-driven research to explore a topic.

Indeed, it is a must-have for businesses looking to position themselves as a leader in their industry, especially now, as attention turns to a successful exit once the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled. Take a look at these five ingredients needed to make your next whitepaper a successful one.

Select an interesting topic and title

Your whitepaper needs to be interesting. It’s simple. In order to generate buzz and drive engagement, you need to select a topic that grabs your reader’s attention.

This should be something that you specialise in, whilst also being a key area of interest for your target audience. Significantly, using the topic and theme of your whitepaper to fill a content gap in the market would position your business as a voice of authority, helping you to stand out from the crowd.

Know your audience

Ask yourself a straight-forward question: who would you like to be reading your whitepaper? It is imperative to pinpoint and target a specific audience, whether that’s HR professionals and business leaders, or consultants, CHRO’s and beyond.

Once you’ve defined your audience, you can write your whitepaper in a tone that suits the readership you are hoping to engage with, using the appropriate terms and covering hot topics/current issues arising from the sectors and departments in which they operate. After all, it’s not much good waffling on.

Tell the story

Long-form content must be engaging in order to maximise its value. Driving a strong, recognisable narrative throughout the piece will ensure that you keep the reader’s attention, and that the direction of the piece is easy to follow.

Indeed, for a whitepaper in particular, outlining an area of concern, demonstrating ways in which to solve it, and using case studies and interviews to support the narrative is key. Allow your audience to become invested in the content and make sure it is relevant to their needs.

Back it up with research

As highlighted earlier, whitepapers are an opportunity to showcase your organisation’s core areas of expertise and key specialisms. But it means nothing if you can’t support your knowledge with evidence.

Use your whitepaper as an opportunity to bring new, current ideas to the table, taking a deep dive into your strengths. It’s important to remember that potential clients and candidates may be reading this. Asking for input from a range of industry experts would be beneficial to enhancing the guide too.

Design is important too

Once the content is all together, creating a design that is accessible, easy to read and to the point is key. Indeed, overwhelming your reader with too much copy, or confused messaging will put them off reading it altogether.

The focus here should be on making the whitepaper engaging by emphasising key points, pulling out statistics, or spotlighting case studies in a way that attracts the attention of the reader. Equally, your design should resonate with your audience, using imagery and styling that reflects both the content and the sector. We also work in a fast-paced world, so ensuring that your whitepaper is accessible across a range of devices is imperative to increasing engagement.

Take care planning your audience, message, tone, research and design and you have a winning formula. With careful consideration of all these points, you’ll produce a stand-out whitepaper which is not only of value to your readers, but also to the reputation and brand of your organisation.