White Paper Mistakes to Avoid
Successful white papers communicate informative content to decision-makers and potential sales leads. But not all white papers are successful -- some are absolute disasters. Here are some of the mistakes you will want to avoid if you want your white papers to produce results for your company.
Writing good white papers takes time.
There is nothing more discouraging than putting everything you have into a white paper only to have it fall short in the results department. You know you have the ingredients for successful white papers in you.
All that's lacking is an understanding of the white paper mistakes to avoid. Fortunately, we've got a pretty good list of white paper mistakes you'll want to avoid:
- Selling vs. Informing. The purpose of a white paper is to inform and educate the reader about a problem and a solution, i.e. your product. If you approach your white paper with the idea of shaping it into a hard marketing piece, you've already lost the battle. Don't use your white papers to sell your products. Use them as an invitation for prospects to begin the buying process.
- Poor Structure. The most effective white papers follow a very precise structure. They begin by addressing a problem the reader can relate to rather than talking about the company or the product. This establishes a connection with the reader and creates the tone for the rest of the document.
- Wrong Content. There are limits to the kinds of content you can include in a white paper. A good rule of thumb is that almost anything is allowable - in moderation. Statistics? You bet, but don't overwhelm the reader with numbers. Graphics? Sure, but keep it to one or two good ones. A well-written testimonial? Please! But make sure it appears near the end when you are presenting your product as the solution to the problem.
- Ignoring Your Audience. Every white paper should be written with a specific audience in mind. It's impossible to write a white paper that is capable of addressing the concerns of a broad spectrum of readers. The more narrowly you are able to define your audience, the easier it will be to craft a concise and targeted document.
- No Distribution Plan. The lack of an adequate distribution plan is a fatal error for many white pages. Getting your white paper in the hands of the right people is just as important as the effort you put into writing it. Traditional distribution vehicles are fine, but don't ignore the distribution potential of online resources and social media outlets.
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What common white paper mistakes have we forgotten to mention? We welcome your comments, questions and advice regarding white paper mistakes and white paper writing in general.