White papers are technical documents that are different from many other types. Aside from being a source of information, they are also a very important marketing tool for many companies. Commercial white papers explain how new products and technologies can be used to effectively solve problems. Whether you've been asked to develop a white paper outlining the benefits of a new email program or a new food storage system, you should include the following sections in your document:
Overview: The overview or abstract will be the first thing people see when they look at your white paper. Here, you will condense the most important information contained in the white paper into a single paragraph. Give the reader a general overview of the problem, the product, and how the product can address the problem. This section should be engaging, and will hopefully convince the reader to spend some time going through the rest of the report.
A description of the problem: Describe the problem that will be solved by the new product. Resist the urge to use technical jargon and complex terms. Instead, present the problem in simple and clear language. You can also identify any relevant industry trends. For example, the problem being addressed may be that a significant amount of fruit is bruised while being transported from warehouses to grocery stores. Relevant trends may include increased demand among consumers for uniform and unblemished produce. Two or three paragraphs should be enough to adequately outline the problem.
A description of the product: Next, you should describe the product that is going to be marketed and sold by your client. Staying with our last example, it might be a mesh covering that is placed over individual pieces of fruit before an order leaves the warehouse. Here, you can also discuss the design of the product, whether it has been tested, how it should be used, and whether using it involves a substantial amount of effort.
An explanation of how the new product can solve the identified problem: Next, and most importantly, you must tell the reader how the new product can solve the problem outlined near the beginning of the white paper. Sticking with the fruit example, you might say that using the product reduces the problem of bruising by 80%. You'll need to provide evidence to back this figure up, whether it's real world case studies that support this statistic or quotes from experts who can confirm that the product is effective. Also tell the reader how much they can expect to save if they decide to use this product. For example, they might avoid throwing out $2000 worth of fruit for every $50 they invest.
Conclusion: End the report on a strong note. Outline the advantages of your client's product once again to convince readers to purchase it.
Last Updated: 05/05/2014