9 Entirely Logical Reasons to Hire a White Paper Writer
By Helen McCrone, SEO Copywriter and Content Writer | 1,463 words
White papers have become a popular marketing tool in recent years, and with good justification. They can be used to target consumers and other businesses at the top, middle and bottom of the sales funnel. Done right, they’re great at generating quality leads, which is probably why they’re the most popular form of gated content, ahead of even ebooks and on-demand webinars.
But once you’ve made the decision to develop a white paper, should you hire a white paper writer or tackle it yourself? After all, you know your product best. That may be so, but here are nine excellent reasons why the writing of white papers is best left to the professionals.
1. They don’t need to know your product as well as you do
This may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s not really necessary for someone to be an expert on your solution to write intelligently or convincingly about it. What you need is someone with excellent (copy) writing skills and the ability to build an argument with facts and logic.
Write paper writers are efficient researchers, and they can get up to speed with the basics of most industries and businesses pretty quickly. After all, that’s their job and it’s something they do week in, week out.
Of course, they’ll need you to point them in the right direction and to provide them with sufficient in-house material on what they’ll be writing about. That includes brochures, presentations, technical specifications, and the names of any colleagues who are subject matter experts. But you wouldn’t be expected to do any handholding (in fact, they may rather resent it if you did).
2.They’re objective and concerned about all the facts
The role of white paper writers is quite simple: to present your organization as a trusted entity that sells a respected product and/or service. They do this by appealing to your target audience with logic, not emotion (it’s this lack of emotion that sets apart a white paper from most other types of copy, including content marketing ebooks).
At some level, you’re emotionally invested in your company and what it sells, so it can be hard to detach yourself from the product or service you work hard every day to promote. Try as you might, bias will creep into your writing, and an experienced B2B buyer will sniff that out from a mile off.
A professional writer, however, doesn’t have the same connection as you. That doesn’t mean they won’t have your interests at heart. It just means that they’ll be able to take a step back, look at the issue from all angles, and make value judgments. This will result in a much more credible report.
3.They know how to construct an argument
Although white papers are not an overt sales pitch, they are nevertheless designed to lead the reader to the obvious conclusion that your product or service is worth buying. The way they do this is to build a strong argument. In other words, they put your position across in such a compelling way that the reader will accept that you have the best or most suitable solution on the market.
There are lots of techniques they employ to do this, from avoiding generalizations and producing evidence to giving examples and being fair to your competitors (yes, really!). They also make sure that the content progresses in a logical fashion, from laying out the situation and constructing a claim to considering key objections and making the case.
4. They will consider all your marketing goals and activities
As with all other content marketing projects, understanding the wider marketing picture is essential. Professional white paper writers know this and will advise you accordingly. They’ll make sure your white paper fits in with your overall marketing strategy. And if it doesn’t, you’ll be advised on a good alternative.
Do not produce a white paper simply because you know it’s a good marketing tool (which it is). To deliver results, it has to be able to help you meet your marketing goals, and it can only do that if it complements all your other marketing activity. Don’t wait until after you’ve produced it, to find out it was the wrong type of content for your purposes.
5. They are more than just white paper writers
While the role of a white paper writer is clear-cut, the process of writing a white paper is rather more challenging. It’s certainly more challenging than writing a good blog post, a direct sales letter, and most forms of ebooks. That’s why a whole team can be involved in a white paper project, from subject matter experts, in-house researchers, and reviewers to designers and printers.
White paper writers are used to playing several roles: planner, content marketer, researcher, fact-checker, writer, project manager and timekeeper. As such, they know how to work in a methodical manner, catalogue their research, and coordinate with a bunch of other disciplines. Those skills are extremely useful. In fact, they can determine whether a white paper is going to be successful or not.
6.They have terrific writing, grammar, and punctuation skills
This is probably an obvious reason to cite, but it still needs to be on this list. White paper writers have the requisite skills to communicate with clarity and ease. Although grammar and punctuation are mentioned in the sub-heading of this section, writing skills go beyond knowing how to avoid a dangling modifier or use a semi-colon. It’s also about the ability to write at a level that is suitable for your target audience.
Non-professional writers can struggle to present their arguments with confidence. They tend to construct sentences that are too complex or too simple. They often use unnecessary words and resort to jargon, and they’re not always sure how to organize chapters and paragraphs. Finally, they find it difficult to create a tone of voice that matches the company’s brand image.
There’s nothing more irritating for a reader than a boring and poorly constructed report, so don’t be tempted to ask product experts to write a white paper if they don’t have sufficient writing skills (and why would they if it’s not their day job?).
7.They possess good planning and research skills
It can take several weeks in total to produce a quality white paper that business decision makers (your target audience) will take seriously. It requires careful planning, a lot of research, an organized process, and sufficient production time.
One of the biggest advantages to hiring white paper writers is that they’re great planners and organizers. They will kick off your project by drafting a plan for everyone involved. This plan shows the tasks that need to be done and the people who need to do them. They’ll also ensure that the plan is circulated and that everyone is in agreement.
After that, the research begins. Credible sources are found (e.g., articles, webinars, reviews, reports, and websites) and subject matter experts are interviewed. All relevant information gathered is documented carefully so that it can be referenced later in the white paper itself.
8.They can help you select the topic and format of your paper
Deciding to invest in a white paper is one thing. Picking the topic is another. You need to make sure that you’re presenting a solution to your target audience or addressing an industry-wide problem, otherwise why would they read it?
A white paper writer can help you choose the right topic and the right format for your white paper (yes, there is more than one style and structure). What that format is depends very much on your white paper's marketing goal and whether you're aiming at the top, middle or bottom of the sales funnel.
9. They can focus exclusively on this important writing project
If you ask a colleague to write your white paper, that person is more than likely going to have to fit it in between lots of other duties. And writing a white paper is not something that can be done in a couple of days. The average (elapsed) time to produce a white paper is four to twelve weeks. That’s a huge commitment for anyone on your team.
On the other hand, white paper writers are not going to be distracted by the day job. After all, it is their day job. What’s more, they’ll stick to the deadline—partly because they’re professional and partly because they’ll want you to hire them again.
Producing a white paper is a considerable marketing investment, although one that should give you significant returns. Hopefully, the nine reasons above show that hiring a white paper writer is the best way to produce a quality white paper that you can publish and promote with confidence.
Have you tried to write your own white paper or did you outsource it? Let me know how it turned out in the comments below.