What Are Whitepapers?

19 Feb 2021

WHAT ARE WHITEPAPERS?

A whitepaper is a written document that provides information on a specific topic. Companies and organizations use them to raise awareness of a particular topic or provide information on how their products or services can solve a problem. It is authoritative, persuasive, and often highly detailed.

Often, companies use whitepapers as a sales and marketing tool to persuade clients to acquire products or services. They can be highly technical or use plain language, depending on the target audience.

Non-profit organizations use whitepapers to raise awareness of specific issues, generally as a part of fundraising endeavors. In this context, their whitepapers may contain stories and statistics to illustrate their cause.

Types of Whitepapers

There are two main types of whitepapers:

  • A backgrounder whitepaper provides a detailed explanation about a product or service, and the benefits clients can derive from the product or service.
  • A problem-solution whitepaper presents a problem and a proposed solution. The aim is to present the benefits of an organization’s specific solutions.

Characteristics of Whitepapers

Whitepapers have the following characteristics:

  • Persuasive tone
  • Detailed information on problems and solutions
  • Specific language aimed at the target audience
  • Information about products or services
  • Benefits derived from the solutions
  • Attractive visuals and formatting
  • Clear intent (inform, persuade, market)

Formats of Whitepapers

Whitepapers contain the following sections:

Problem-Solution Whitepaper

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Definition of Problem
  • Explanation of Solution
  • Benefits of Solution
  • Call to Action*

Backgrounder Whitepaper

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Description of Clients’ Needs
  • Description of Products or Services
  • Benefits of Products or Services
  • Call to Action*

*A call to action is a statement used to compel readers to act. Statements such as “call now” or “learn more” are common calls to action. However, fear-based calls to action are not advisable as they may paint the brand in a negative light, and clients may associate the brand with a problem. Therefore, a call to action should always paint the brand as a solution, not a part of the problem.

Author
Zach Richter 

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