By Trish Holder
Call me crazy but I like writing whitepapers.
I like writing whitepapers because I like research. That’s a good thing because I find that the initial supporting information that clients typically provide me to write a whitepaper are rarely enough to build a strong case for what they want to say. And that’s okay.
The fact is, it’s difficult for anyone to predict all the questions that will need answering in order to write a compelling and convincing whitepaper. My clients know their products and markets backwards and forwards, but that alone does not automatically cue up all the information it takes to develop a persuasive and authoritative report.
Preparing to write a whitepaper is a quest, a mission in fact finding. That’s the part I love most, following all the necessary leads to determine if I can (or cannot) legitimately make an argument or even a single statement that may evolve into one of the pillars on which my client’s case rests.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a total nerd. I don’t care how seemingly bland a particular topic may be; my interest and passion for what I do reignites the minute I become lost in the search for a particular morsel of information that can elevate a “hunch” I might have to evidence that supports what my client wants to say.
I also find that once I have basically marinated myself in a given topic, I write better and faster. Obviously, this is partly because I have better command of the topic, but it’s more than that. By this time, I’ve taken ownership of the theoretical solution my client hopes to communicate. I’ve made the argument my own.
A good whitepaper will always require additional research and I absolutely believe that this research is best handled by someone who is not directly involved in selling the product. Clients are often too “close” to their products to fully consider all the objections and questions a reader might raise. These must be anticipated and addressed to legitimize a whitepaper.
This, among other things, is what keeps a whitepaper from becoming a blatant product pitch. That’s a “whitepaper” I’d just as soon not write.