Are Your White Papers Really White Papers?

While there is no set format for the white paper, there are some things that have come to be expected, especially for the problem-solution white paper. These white papers are generally geared toward engineers, who evaluate products and can eliminate them from contention before the decision-maker ever becomes involved in a purchase decision.

Generally, this type of white paper describes a problem, ramifications of the problem, and proposes a solution. While the intention of the white paper is to sell your products and services, the call to action at the end of a white paper is subtle. Engineers are intelligent problem-solvers who enjoy making decisions for themselves based on data and research. The white paper with a blatant call to action and shameless self-promotion is nearly worthless. It isn’t a white paper, it’s a pamphlet or sales letter.

As soon as the blatant sales pitch starts, the engineering reader starts to lose interest. It’s important to realize that engineers are not as susceptible to the traditional marketing techniques that work on most people. They want data, and appeals to emotion often backfire.

When you pass along a paper under the guise of a white paper, there are certain expectations. One of these expectations is a minimum of sales hype. If you want to keep the engineering reader’s attention, don’t put in the hype. A skillful writer can lead the engineer in the desired direction with much greater subtlety. After all, isn’t it better if the customer decides to buy your product because research dictated it the best course of action?

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