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What Makes a Good White Paper Good… (part two)

Written By: Jane Affleck
Published On: December 3 2007

And here's the second point that all writers of IT white papers should keep in mind when writing (special notice of this point should be taken by those writers who may *forget* that not everyone on the planet has the same rarified vocabulary, not mentioning the names of any jobs or fields...).

2. Audience, Audience (Stake a claim with your first paragraph).

After the compelling title, the first paragraph makes or breaks audience “affinity,” which is Stelzner’s term for the white paper’s ability to identify a problem or a situation with which the reader can identify. Focusing on the reader’s needs, and highlighting the “pain points”—the bugbears the reader hasn’t yet had any luck dealing with—makes a white paper more credible than one that only brags about the genius behind the featured product or service.

And, it should be clear in the first paragraph the nature of that audience: Is it composed of engineers? CFOs? Retailers, or suppliers? Each of them, according to Stelzner, has a different perspective on the same problem, and has different needs that must be satisfied by different solutions. In any case, aim to use language that could be understood by almost anyone in any field or industry, even if your content is targeting a particular field or industry. But no matter how savvy your audience, a string of jargon is not going to sell your idea or product as effectively as plain language that is used cleverly or creatively.

Want more tips? Check out SherryFox's smart post about "Ambiguous White Paper Buzzwords" for more on what language NOT to use when you're writing a white paper...

and keep checking for points three and four, coming soon...!
 
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