There are two main goals of a whitepaper:
- Educating the reader about the topic—positioning the publisher as an authority on the subject.
- Enticing customers to purchase the product or service that’s being advertised.
Whitepapers are usually at least 2,500 words and written in an academic style. They are educational and useful, and should not be written like a sales pitch. A whitepaper is intended to be used prior to a sale. It should provide only facts and no opinions.
A whitepaper is different from a product pitch, which can also be used to entice customers to buy a certain product or service. But where a whitepaper differs from a product pitch is how it’s written. A whitepaper is informational, while a product pitch is typically written in a more aggressive and artificial tone.
Key parts of a whitepaper
In order to successfully write a whitepaper, there is a simple format that you should follow. The contents of a whitepaper will differ for every business, but there are four key parts that every whitepaper should contain:
1. Introduction: No matter what service or product you’re promoting, every whitepaper should start with an introduction. The introduction should engage the reader right off the bat and entice them to keep reading. You should immediately address the problem your product or service will fix and how you’re going to solve that problem.
2. Problem: Once you’ve mentioned the problem that your product or service will fix, you then need to demonstrate that you actually understand the problem and the impact it can have on their life. You should include what might happen if the reader does not address this problem, as well as the potential benefits of fixing this problem. You want to make this section as relatable to the reader as possible.
3. Solution: So you’ve identified the problem at hand and explained why the reader should care about addressing that problem. You now need to explain how your product or service is going to be the solution to this problem. If you’ve written the first two sections correctly, your reader should be at the edge of their seats to hear this solution. Be as descriptive as possible when describing the solution to convince the reader it's the best choice for them. Note, you do not want to make it into an overt sales pitch.
4. Conclusion: The conclusion portion of the whitepaper serves as a summary of the problem and solution. You’ll repeat what the problem is and how your product or service can solve it. The conclusion should be enticing and motivate the reader to take the next steps to purchase your product or service. You should also include a call to action in your conclusion so the reader knows what the next steps are if they’re interested in learning more about your business.