Before You Start Your White Paper Project, Ask These Questions (Part 3 of 4)

By John White

This is part 3 of a series on your internal preparation for a white paper project. Third: What is your paper’s call to action?

A good white paper is like a diving board.

  • You promote and preface it so that your ideal readers see the benefit in getting onto it.
  • You inform AND persuade, so that readers feel that they are drawing their own conclusions as they move down it.
  • You set it up so that those conclusions lead in one specific direction – to your category of product or service.

Once you’ve done all of this, and your readers are at the end of the diving board, what do you need to do next?

Tell Them How to Jump In

The last step in a strong white paper is a strong call to action. Just as it’s obvious what you need to do when you’re standing on the end of a diving board, you need to make it obvious to your readers what their next steps are. Since these can vary widely, the question to answer before you begin the project is:

What do we want readers to do once they’ve read the white paper?

Examples:

  • Click here to register for our webinar on IT service management
  • Forward to a colleague via e-mail
  • Subscribe to our green energy newsletter or blog
  • Tweet/Digg this
  • Use our template to write to your congressman
  • Disagree vehemently with the author and post a comment
  • Agree vehemently with the author and post a comment
  • Rate the white paper with 1-5 stars
  • Do your own research on telemedicine reimbursement at these links

An Integral Part of the White Paper

Don’t just regurgitate your press release boilerplate on the last page of the white paper or give an info@ e-mail address. This is an opportunity to use your valuable content to cultivate a following and generate momentum.

Also, this call to action should be integrated to the white paper and to the rest of your marketing landscape. It should reflect your messaging platform or creative brief, and it should hitch the white paper firmly to the surrounding campaign.

“For more information, contact Sales” need not apply. Tell your readers how and why to follow you, and give them a good reason to do so.

How do you get your readers to dive in?

Next: Is the writer up to it?

John White of venTAJA Marketing posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it.

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/amagill/ / CC BY 2.0

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  • ongobee

    Dear Michael,
    We are starting a website that will allow you to share information with others. We've also created a GUI with rules based knowledge capability. Do you think this would be useful to technical writers? Appreciate any feedback.

  • ongobee

    Dear Michael,
    We are starting a website that will allow you to share information with others. We've also created a GUI with rules based knowledge capability. Do you think this would be useful to technical writers? Appreciate any feedback.
    http://www.ongobee.com