White paper is an informative sales document describing a product, a service, a technology, and the like. It is a structured document that is, in contrast to purely promotional and marketing materials with strong visuals, more formal, authoritative and the stress is put on the content. It is not a purely promotional material. Its goal is to inform, convince and promote credibility and therefore focuses more on content than on form. It should be able to convince the reader of the quality of the company.
White paper should contain facts rather than empty marketing and sales phrases. This is a quality document often containing technological specifications. The company that produces such quality documents is often perceived as a thought leader. So, white paper helps build trust in a brand in the eyes of both partners and customers, and positively influences their purchasing decisions. It builds the trust and credibility of the entire business.
Who is the white paper intended for and what is its purpose?
The purpose of a white paper may be to promote a company or its offer by means of promoting specific product features, specific technology, patent, and so on. It is not a user or technology manual, but a business-oriented document designed to convince a prospective customer. A digital white paper on your website (or elsewhere) is also a great source of high-quality content and is therefore an excellent marketing tool to help increase site traffic (see also inbound marketing and content marketing).
It is intended for customers, business partners, or investors as the basis for their decisions. Therefore, it should provide them with useful information to help them understand the product, technology, or service. At the same time, it also plays an important role in content marketing since it is an important source for generating business leads.
- Helps generate leads
- Helps convert potential customers, persuade partners and investors
- It is an important source of information for content marketing
- Builds awareness, trust and credibility in the brand
What should a white paper contain and what should it look like?
There is no standard for what can be called a white paper, or what exactly it should contain and what it should look like. There are, however, a number of features that are typical of white paper:
- 1 to 6 pages in length
- Language should be more academic than marketing, it should contain valuable information, not empty phrases
- It should contain a managerial summary, the content should follow the traditional structure that will guide the reader through the topic (introduction, possible solutions, examples from practice, results if any, conclusion)
- Ideally, it should be (“just”) a structured text accompanied by necessary explanatory (not marketing) images
- Ideally in pdf format
Unlike purely marketing content materials (brochures, leaflets, etc.), white paper should persuade by its content rather than its form.