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By Ives Brant
The white paper conveys objective thought leadership while subtly reinforcing your company’s key messaging. Finding the right company or person to develop and then write a white paper is not always easy. White papers are several levels above writing corporate brochures in the knowledge required to deliver an outstanding result.
The white paper should be geared to the specific audience, whether IT, executive, finance, or another target reader. Mixing audiences is not recommended. Remember, the writer you choose shouldn’t be writing for you – he’s writing for your customer or target reader. Help the writer understand your audience, and the white paper will be on target.
The more clearly the audience is defined, the stronger we can hit their “pain points.” Defining their challenge and how your product or service addresses their business challenges is where the white paper’s value lies.
Enhancing the white paper’s credibility with third-party, authoritative information and original thinking about solutions is important to establishing credibility. If the “thinking” presented is entirely the product of in-house sources, it is quite likely to hit the reader as a purely commercial message and be regarded as a product brochure – but one that takes a sneaky approach. That’s obviously not ideal.
Some technology topics, like memory storage, call for very specialized writers who are deep in understanding of the technology. Enterprise software white papers are different, because they require a good understanding of how an enterprise functions. That calls for solid business background on the part of the white paper writer. It also helps significantly if the writer knows what other marketing messages and concepts the target reader has been receiving over the course of his career in the enterprise.
Your writer needs to interact well with executive management and content providers. It is quite possible that he will be representing your company in contacts with reference customers, even if you supervise the telephone conference and are copied on emails. It is a certainty that he will represent YOU inside your company, because you selected the writer. These are reasons you should assess the writer’s friendliness, patience, speed of understanding, ability to dig for information without being obnoxious, and ability to get the interview subjects to “tell the whole story”.
Ives Brant, as the “Editor on Call” has developed and authored numerous white papers for clients in the software and telecom billing industry. He is a specialist in CPM, BPM, and BI topics. He ran a monthly magazine for Oracle, was marcom manager at Hyperion, and worked in PR at PeopleSoft. He has supplied white papers to analyst firms that are highly regarded in their fields, and worked with the same customers over periods of several years with many repeat assignments.