What is a White Paper?
A white paper is an authoritative guide that discusses issues on a certain subject along with a solution on how to solve them. The term white paper came about after the government color-coded reports to indicate who could access it, with the color white referring to public access.
White papers are commonly used today in the fields of business, politics, and technology to discuss challenges and issues faced in the industry and solutions on how to overcome them.
Types of White Papers in Companies
There are three types of white papers that are used by companies:
- Benefits of the business – A case study of how a business process or technology can increase productivity
- Technology – Discusses a specific technology and its benefits
- Hybrid – Addresses the benefits to the business along with some technical details on the product/service.
Also, white papers are now being used commercially as a document for marketing and sales. They are most prominently used in the field of technology to discuss the potential uses of a new product and how it can help increase the efficiency of processes in companies.
Although the white paper discusses the uses of the product, it is ultimately a marketing tool that promotes the company through a sponsorship of the document. The distribution of the paper also helps the company gain sales leads.
Choosing a Topic for a White Paper
Keep the following points in mind when selecting a topic for a white paper:
Similar to writing an article or an essay, the audience is the first factor that is considered when writing a white paper. For a business, they can be longstanding customers of the company or new customers who will learn more about the business and its products and services through the document.
The white papers published by the government will discuss the urgent issues and current events in the economy that the general public will want to learn more about.
2. Expert analysis
The white paper must be written by someone with industry knowledge on the product or service and a thorough understanding of the subject at hand. For companies, the document should provide in-depth research on the product and highlight how it can help benefit customers.
3. Problem-solving solution
While the white paper provides detailed information about the company’s product/service, it should also address the problem faced by customers and how the product can solve the issue. The problem must be relevant to the industry and the customer. Very often, white papers are written to address how the product can help the customer evolve with the new trends and techniques in the field.
Format for a White Paper
A white paper should be structured in the following way:
The introduction is an overview of the white paper. It discusses the main points that comprise the document. It also helps the customer identify if the content in the report is relevant to them.
2. Problem statement
The problem statement is the specific problem issue faced by customers that the white paper will discuss. The statement must be in line with the product/service. It also needs to be stated clearly so that it is understood by the reader.
The information section is the most important part of the paper, where the introduction and problem statement are tied in together to discuss the product and all its features. The information will lead to a solution.
The solution section will help generate leads for the company as it discusses how the product/service will help the reader. The solutions need to be relevant and can be backed by evidence to support the claims in the paper. The section must contain both quantitative and qualitative information.
The conclusion is a summary of the entire white paper and can include a list of the key takeaways of the paper.
Uses of White Papers
White papers help increase the authority of a business and improve their credibility with customers. They can either be used as:
1. Case study
Very often, many companies market lengthy case studies as white papers. A case study is a story about a business, the challenges they faced, and how the company’s product helped them overcome their problem.
A case study contains detailed and technical information and allows customers to see themselves using the product. Case study white papers help provide a real-world example of how the company helped its customer achieve success.
White papers are lengthy and detailed and may provide a lot of information that the customer may not find necessary. However, they can often serve as a reference guide for other companies in the industry to help them improve their business.
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