It’s easy for whitepapers to fall into the trap of being nothing more than thinly veiled sales tools. Just a few pages in, it quickly becomes clear that the paper lacks authority and fails to provide anything new or meaningful to industry conversations.
Rather than eagerly pushing products and services, whitepapers should focus on problem solving – generating real value by helping, informing and inspiring their audience. From here, they have the power to create long-term, meaningful business leads and to set an organisation up as a thought leader.
So, how do you write a whitepaper that establishes your credibility and showcases your organisation as an industry front-runner?
Gathering your insights
From the outset, take a two-pronged approach to gathering your inputs and insights.
Use your subject matter experts for in-depth and refined details in your whitepaper – their daily experiences on the ground will offer valuable insights on the most pressing trends in the industry. Ask them: What’s affecting customers? What questions are they fielding regularly? What challenges are emerging in their market? This will help identify your customers’ key pain points as well as guiding the main topic and core sections of your whitepaper.
Next, consult your sales directors and use their input to steer wider market research. The sales team will provide ‘bigger picture’ context, supporting evidence and balance for the final paper.
Maintaining thought leadership
After you’ve gathered the content and inputs, make sure your unique perspective is present throughout the paper. Here are our top tips on letting your thought leadership shine through:
- Show that you understand
Your readers want to feel that you understand their pain points and the environment they’re operating in. Expand on their challenges and make sure you provide answers to the issues that are relevant to them.
- Avoid overexplaining
Don’t overexplain or spell out the obvious – readers will quickly find this frustrating, and it will undermine the level of understanding you’re trying to convey. Instead of wasting words on setting the scene, get stuck into your advice and ‘value add’. It’s fine if this means the paper is shorter – succinct and concise information that’s genuinely beneficial is better than pages of unhelpful detail.
- Break down your advice step by step
Explain your new ideas and the solutions you’re offering in the simplest, most concise way. Breaking down your recommendations into manageable stages will empower your reader and help them understand how they can implement your advice.
- Minimising your sales talk
You’ll quickly undermine your positioning as a thought leader if you mention products and services early in a paper. Thought leadership should first and foremost be about sharing advice, knowledge, expertise and insight. Keeping your brand’s solutions close to the end of the paper, and using a light touch approach, is the best way to ensure the value of your insights isn’t undermined by overt sales messaging.
To find out more about writing market-leading whitepapers, please contact us.