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Red-Hot Whitepapers

September 26, 2008  

If you're writing a whitepaper—or plan to include one in your marketing strategy—you should check out a Pro article at MarketingProfs.com in which Steve Hoffman provides an in-depth list of dos and don'ts. Here's a peek at some of his advice:

Get the length right. It's nearly impossible to develop a compelling idea in four pages; most readers, meanwhile, don't have the patience to wade through 20. Hoffman advises a target length of eight to ten pages, or around 3,000 words. "[There's a] notable exception to this recommendation," he says. "Some highly technical audiences demand even more information, justifying a longer paper."

Appear as objective as possible. The purpose of a whitepaper is to educate, inform and demonstrate thought leadership. Overt plugs for your product or service will undermine effectiveness; strictly factual descriptions in the second half of your discussion, though, can enhance a sense of objectivity after you've covered challenges, motivations and best practices. "Whitepapers are not marketing collateral," he says. "[T]hey complement marketing collateral."

Inspire with useful information, not fear. Savvy businesspeople won't make a decision based on hyperbolic doom-and-gloom scenarios borrowed from late-night infomercials. "Whitepaper readers usually prefer factual statements of the possible repercussions of various courses of action to aid them in their evaluations and decisions," says Hoffman.


The Po!nt: Just the facts, ma'am. A "whitepaper" that actively markets your company to readers is nothing more than a long, wordy brochure. You'll achieve better results by expanding their knowledge base, and letting them connect the dots on their own.

Source: MarketingProfs. Click here for the complete article.

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