What is a White Paper? | White Papers for Business

A white paper can be a very effective format to connect with your target market and build credibility through thought leadership. If you’re considering using a white paper for B2B marketing, this short guide covers the basics of business white papers and how they are used. 

Why is it called white paper? 

The term originated with the British government, and many people think that the first one (a defence white paper) was commissioned by Winston Churchill in 1922. In government settings, white papers present proposed government policies and often invite feedback before the policy is implemented or legislation is introduced. 

In the early 1990s, businesses started creating white papers (sometimes spelled whitepaper) as a way to their products and services. This is not done with a hard sales approach (as you might find in a brochure, landing page on a website or other sales pitches) but positions the business as a subject matter expert. As part of a content marketing strategy, it can be used as a marketing tool to generate leads, with the ultimate goal of winning new customers. 

Types of  papers 

There is no universal agreement on this. Some experts believe there are types of white papers, while others use broader definitions and define a much smaller number. 

The White Papers for Dummies Book is a helpful reference that keeps it simple with three broad categories: 

  • Characteristic/Backgrounder – this provides an in-depth overview of the features and benefits of certain products or services, and is targeted at B2B buyers near the bottom of the sales funnel. It includes a factual description of the product or service benefits and supports a company’s position as a leader in its field. While it has a more sales-focused approach than the other types of papers, it should be low-key and avoid hype. 
  • Numbered/List – this type of publication provides a number set of points, tips, questions and answers about a challenge. Its approach is lighter and livelier and is aimed at attracting attention with provocative views. This approach is most effective to engage prospective customers during a complex sale to cast fear, uncertainty and doubt on competing solutions. 
  • Problem Solution – this type of whitepaper includes facts and logic to present a new solution to the customer’s problem. It’s aimed at B2B purchasers near the top of the sales funnel. As an industry white paper, it has a broad focus on an industry-wide problem. Unlike the Characteristic/Backgrounder, it doesn’t focus on the particular products or services that the business offers. Usually, this is done at the end with a call to action to get in touch to learn more. 

Whatever style you choose, it’s best to keep it as simple as possible and clearly summarise the points you are making, including key takeaways that can help potential customers improve their understanding of the topic. In addition to effective  writing, you will also want to ensure that it’s visually appealing. This includes using your brand colours and getting it professionally designed (not a simple Word document).

What’s included?

The contents will depend on the type you choose to create. For the Problem/Solution version, the outline recommended in the For Dummies book is:

  • Executive summary – a summary no longer than one page.
  • Problem – go into detail about the problem and its impact. If you have research/data, include it to show the seriousness of the challenge. 
  • Existing solutions and shortcomings – give an overview of potential solutions and what they are missing.
  • Recommended solution – how a product or service solves the problem.
  • Case study – show how a customer overcame the problem by using the recommended solution.
  • Buyer’s guide – this can show the positive and negative points of the potential solutions and how yours stands out as the best. 
  • Conclusion and call to action – a brief summary and next steps for getting the solutions you offer. 
  • About the company – an overview of your business with the points you typically include in a company profile. 

Although this is not a business white paper template, it can be used as a guide to structuring your own paper. If you’re looking for B2B white paper examples, here’s one we wrote for a business finance provider. It looks at the issue of debtor days (the average time it takes a business to get paid after issuing an invoice) and how their service solves this problem. 

How to write a white paper

If you are writing a white paper, choose the type that best suits the audience and your solution. Once you’ve chosen the type, create an outline to guide you. Based on this outline, determine what content you will include. You might need to conduct some research to get the information needed. Large companies have the resources to conduct surveys to include insightful information. Your business might not be able to do this, so you can consider including existing third-party research. If you want to include case studies, you will need to interview your customers who have used your product or service to solve their problems. 

If you don’t have the resources to create a white paper, you can consider white paper writers for hire. A professional white paper writer can help you kick start the process and make the paper a reality. As professional content writers, we’ve helped businesses across Australia with content creation, including white papers.

White paper graphic designers

The white paper format is another important consideration. Those in your target audience reading your white paper will also judge it on how it looks. This is why high-quality formatting and graphic design are important.  A good graphic designer will make it easy to read and include supporting graphs and illustrations.

Ways to leverage your content with white paper B2B marketing

Once you’ve completed and designed the final publication, the next step is to leverage your white paper for B2B marketing. Things to achieve this include: 

  • Sending out media releases to relevant publications and websites.
  • Using search engine optimisation to help people find the paper when searching online (find out more about SEO copywriting services). By getting people to opt-in by leaving a name, email address and phone number, you can follow up by contacting people to get their feedback and start a sales conversation. 
  • Repurposing the content in the white paper in articles and blog posts to generate website visitors and sales leads. This can include publishing sections for the white paper and including a link to the opt-in page where website visitors can download the full version. 

If you’re looking for a white paper freelance writer, we’ve assisted businesses across Australia with white paper writing services. Contact us on 1300 731 955 to discuss writing, designing and promoting your white paper. 

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Company Profile Writer — Tips for Writing a Company Profile

The importance of writing a company profile (also called a business profile) is often overlooked. Your company profile can be an effective tool for presenting your organisation to the rest of the world. Despite the rise of the internet and social media, there still is a place for the traditional business profile that doesn’t directly sell products or services but builds the image and credibility of a business.

As a company profile writer, I will share what I have learned since beginning company profile writing in 2005.

What is a company profile?

Also called a business profile or corporate profile, a company profile summarises an organisation’s purpose, history, function, and outlook. A well-written business profile makes it possible to quickly and easily present key information to the media, potential customers and investors, and the general public.

Puzzle showing values, vision and mission, which are elements used when writing a company profile (business profile).

What should be included when writing a business profile?

Having written many company profiles for a wide range of organisations, I will share my insights as a company profile writer.

There’s no exact formula for writing a business profile. The type of information you include and the length of the company profile will depend on your organisation and what you are trying to achieve.

Here are a few items that are typically included when writing a business profile.

  • Mission statement – summarising the company’s purpose.
  • Leader’s message – a short message from the CEO/Director can briefly explain the mission, goals, achievements and importance of the business in a broader context.
  • General overview of what your business does – this can include a brief explanation of the types of products and/or services offered. It’s not necessary to go into detail, as this can be covered in product or service brochures and website.
  • Company history – established businesses often have notable stories behind them about past successes and the challenges they have overcome. New businesses might be able to highlight the experience of the founders and what inspired them to begin the venture.
  • Successes and milestones – this can include short case studies explaining how your company has helped its customers and an overview of important accomplishments.
  • Awards and certifications – include any awards or industry certifications that are required to do your work.
  • Profiles of key personnel – these should be in a consistent style and include the same type of information. When writing staff profiles, we ask these questions for creating staff profiles to get the information needed.
  • Corporate governance – your approach to meeting legal requirements.
  • Social responsibility – how your business aligns its values and behaviour with the expectations and needs of stakeholders — customers, investors, employees, suppliers, communities, and society as a whole.
  • Company culture – this could include your organisation’s outlook when it comes to staff development, occupational health and safety, and the overall work environment.
  • Financial performance – if a publicly-traded company, include a summary of the most recent financial data.

By no means is this a complete list; your company profile might need to cover other subject areas not included here. For most of these sections, the key questions to ask when writing a corporate profile are “What makes us stand out from others?” and “What makes us memorable?”

The aim of writing a business profile is to lift your organisation’s image and raise its credibility. So it’s okay to boast a bit about your company and its achievements when taking on the role of business writer.

Here are examples of company profiles we have written, including a business overview for a multinational company. The type of content you include in your corporate profile will depend on your business, the intended readers and your goals.

If you need assistance with writing a business profile, please contact us to speak with a company profile writer about our company profile writing services. We will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide business company profile examples.

If you are thinking about writing a company history, visit Tips for Writing a Company History.

Michael Gladkoff, Company Profile Writer

 

Writing a Company History – Tips from a Company History Writer

There are many reasons for writing a company history. It could be to celebrate an anniversary or to document your organisation’s achievements over the years.  A company history might be part of a company profile. Whether you are looking to write a company history yourself or hire a freelance company history writer, writing a company […]

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Report Writing Tips for Effective Business Reports

The task of report writing can be mastered with practice and knowledge of the steps involved. A business report is a factually correct and concise document that assists with decision making. In general, business reports present facts and not be based on opinions. Though there are many business report formats, the basic structure of a business report is often standardised.

In this article, we will look at some useful tips for effective business report writing that can improve your results.

#1 Identify the purpose when report writing

Identifying your purpose when report writing is a crucial first step. Having a detailed discussion with relevant co-workers and managers should help you get the right perspective as everything else depends on your understanding of the purpose. The purpose of report writing can range from informing an audience, convincing people or employees, recommending new ideas to finding solutions to problems.

Report writing involves a certain amount of effort and assimilation of information. With so much information available, it’s only natural that you may stray from the purpose of the report. Stay focused on your purpose by

  • Having a clear understanding of what your report should achieve
  • Organizing your thoughts before writing a business report
  • Making an outline
  • Having a picture of the important or specific information to be communicated.

#2  Recognise your target audience when report writing

While report writing, your readers are your audience so customise the business report to cater to their needs. Your target audience can comprise both a primary and secondary audience. People who make decisions based on the report and check the feasibility of the recommendations in the report are the primary users of your report, while the ones affected by the decision taken are the secondary readers.  For instance, if you prepare a financial business report, the primary user would be the person who asked you to prepare the report while the employees or shareholders could be the secondary readers.

Here are a few points that you may need to keep in mind about your audience while report writing:

  • Who are your readers?
  • What is the level of knowledge of the readers?
  • What more do they need to know?
  • How do they intend to use the report?
  • What are the expectations of the readers?
  • Is there sufficient information to satisfy all stakeholders?

#3 Make your business report reader friendly

Another factor to consider while report writing is to keep it reader friendly. The way information is presented in a business report can determine if the reader wants to examine it or just treat it as another piece of paper lying on his or her desk. A neat and readable format is easier to read and assimilate.

A few tricks can improve readability when report writing:

  • Choose appropriate headings to make it easy to navigate and get readers interested.
  • Include bullet points to enhance reading speed and get the message across more effectively.
  • Organise information in a logical way that flows.
  • Use appropriate fonts – nothing too fancy or out of the ordinary.
  • Include headings that summarise the corresponding section.
  • Avoid writing long paragraphs – create new paragraphs at appropriate points.
  • Use infographics, tables and charts to manage large amounts of information.

#4 Adopt an unbiased writing style when report writing

We can tell when the tone of someone’s voice changes. It’s the same for readers too. They perceive the tone of a writer’s message, which in turn can influence perceptions.

It’s best to keep the tone neutral when business report writing. Using passive voice can help in keeping the tone formal as the focus would be on the action rather than the person.

Sometimes it’s necessary to write a business report objectively. In such situations, you should provide recommendations and conclusions only if they are asked for. You can include a separate section for recommendations and conclusions, while keeping the overall tone neutral and objective when report writing.

Here are a few tips on how to set the tone when report writing:

  • Ensure that the language is polite and genuine.
  • Highlight the importance of what you need to convey but don’t overdo it.
  • Communicate the advantages to the reader.
  • Avoid a biased writing style.
  • Avoid using jargon when you can do with everyday English.
  • Use short words when possible.
  • Cut down on unnecessary words.

#5 Consider the structure when report writing

Organise your business report on a simple structure – introduction, text and conclusion. Lead your reader through your business report by maintaining a logical flow; the report should flow from one point to the next naturally. Ensure that the report is appropriately long to achieve its purpose.

Though you may have chosen effective headings, ensure that the paragraphs under the headings flow logically. Typically, a paragraph in a business report should contain 100 to 150 words, with a main sentence that defines the core idea of the paragraph, followed by support sentences that substantiate the main idea using statistics and examples.  You may also include a finishing sentence that highlights your analytical skills.

#6 Proofread after report writing

Read and revise what you have written not once but twice when you have finished writing. Check for grammar and spelling errors, and repetitive information. During the first round of proofreading, check for spelling and grammar errors. Next, look for repetitive information or words that are out of context.

Using Microsoft Word to check spelling will not always work. Polish your business report with alternative spelling and grammar tools like Grammarly, Ginger and Whitesmoke.

You get the best results from your proofreading exercise when you put away the document for a day after you are completely done. When you come back to it with fresh eyes and a clear mind, you will often find mistakes you didn’t spot earlier.

At Word Nerds, we offer report writing services for most types of organisations, including business, government and professionals. We will be glad to discuss your report writing requirements and how we can assist.

If you are interested in customised business writing training for your organisation, find out more about our business writing course.

Michael Gladkoff

Tips for Writing a Mission Statement