Copywriting & content marketing for B2B & technology companies

3 ways to pimp your whitepaper, so people actually will want to read it.

Whitepapers … aren’t we way passed this already? Aren’t whitepapers something we used to write in the nillies, or the nineties, God forbid?

Admittedly, most of today’s marketers will sniff at whitepapers. They will regard them as tedious, drowsy and way too complex pieces of content. Be it as it may, I still believe that people like a big fat, meaty piece of content from time to time. A whitepaper might be just that: a perfect way to explain a technical problem or challenge that just cannot be explained in a simple listicle.

So if you have talk about a complex problem that needs room for explanation, a whitepaper is still a good idea. However, that doesn’t mean that your whitepaper should meet the usual expectations people have of this type of content.

Let’s see how we can kick the whitepaper into 2014 and make it more attractive for today’s audiences.

Here are 3 ways to pimp your whitepaper so people will actually want to read it.


1. Treat your whitepaper like a brochure.

Still using those drab graphs that are pulled straight out of your Office Excel? C’mon! Put your graphics guy/gal to work. Even graphs can be made sexy if you use a little imagination. It’s not becasue people call it whitepaper that it should look dull and white (although white can be cool too). In fact, you should treat your whitepaper exactly the way you treat your brochures or other sales support materials. Use your house style to give it your company look & feel. Wherever possible, use strong imagery that conveys a message.

2. Find the balance between nerdy and silly.

This is probably true for all B2B communication or for complex technology marketing. Make sure you omit the gobbledygook and leave out the jargon as much as possible. Your are not writing for your circle of nerdy colleagues. You are writing for an audience.

However, writing for a specific audience might well be the reason that you do need to use jargon. Huh? Sure, your audience needs to hear the language it is familiar with. Sometimes there’s just no way of explaining the problem in everyday language. That’s why simplification is good, dumbing down is not.

Oh wait, I already wrote about that. Ah well, can’t say it too much. :-)

3. Add some interactivity

Some readers might still want to print out your whitepaper, cigar in hand, comfortably posted in their rocking chairs next to the fireplace. However, your whitepaper will mostly live online, and so you might as well make use of that. There are a number of ways in which you can make your whitepaper interactive, or at least more interesting.

For example, you could combine your online whitepaper with  an assessment, survey, calculator or knowledge test. This allows your readers to educate themselves while they are actively answering questions related to your content.

You can also make your readers fill out a form with targeted questions relating to your  content. Based on the answers, you can provide your readers with only the chapters they will be interested in.

In conclusion…

If you want people to read your whitepaper, then don’t take the white part too seriously. Of course your whitepaper content should not be too salesy, but that doesn’t mean you cannot present your content in an attractive way. Try to connect with your readers, either by using the language they speak or by offering them additional interactivity options they might find interesting.