White papers can be one of the greatest assets in your marketing toolkit, yet they are often misused and misunderstood.
Which is a shame.
Written well, a white paper can be a powerful tool to get your customer's attention, show you can help solve their problems and make life easier for them.
3 good reasons to write a white paper
Helping your customers decide to buy.
Not all your customers will pick up the phone or email you about your products. Most will need persuasion, with step by step reassurance that it’s your product or service that will best fit their needs.
This is where a white paper becomes an invaluable marketing tool. They are easy to download and can be handed out at events allowing your customers to read at their leisure away from the pressures of a sales conversation.
In short, white papers are an excellent way of getting the attention of decision makers, subtlety, effectively and persuasively.
White papers are a growing trend when it comes to marketing medical devices and they’re an excellent way of showing potential customers how you can meet their needs and solve some of their most pressing clinical problems.
Described as a cross between an academic essay and a sales brochure, it’s an eye-catching document that's full of educational material subtly enticing the reader to want to know more. The challenge, of course, is writing for both medical staff who want to understand the science behind the device, as well as the administrative staff who are focused on the business benefits and who may have the final say over budgets.
Blending these two writing styles is the art of white paper writing
The aim then is to both educate and subtly sell at the same time, and it’s essential to get the balance right.
White papers are particularly useful for companies trying to market a complex technology or service that requires potential customers to do some background research before making a decision.
Here are 5 quick tips to keep your white paper uppermost in your prospective clients’ minds.
1. Know who your intended audience is and write specifically for them.
A well written white paper should help your prospective customer make a decision about your product. This makes it essential to know as much about them as possible before the writing process begins.
Consider . . .
2. Conduct a thorough literature search.
Writing a white paper for a complex medical device begins with conducting a thorough literature search. Without access to up to date, high-quality research, it’s impossible to write a white paper with sufficient academic credibility to be taken seriously.
3. Make good use of colour, font size and graphics
Most readers won’t read your white paper from beginning to end on the first sitting. They need to be enticed to read more with well placed colourful graphics, pull quotes, box-outs and bullet points. Do this well, and your reader will be much more likely to give your white paper the time and attention it deserves.
4. Begin with a concise executive summary
It’s likely that your reader will be pressed for time. This is why writing a concise summary at the beginning of the paper is good way of helping them understand your key points quickly. A well written executive is an excellent way of encouraging your potential customer to read more.
5. Acknowledge problems and provide solutions.
A well written white paper should always begin by acknowledging the clinical challenges that the reader cares about. Only once you have shown that you understand the readers problems, should you go on to talk about the solutions.
Last but not least don’t forget a simple call to action right at the end of the paper so your customers know how to contact you.
It’s no secret that white papers are amongst the most useful marketing tools you can use to influence purchasing decisions and boost customer engagement. But they need to be carefully thought through.
Well, there’s a lot that needs to go into a white paper before the first words are ever written and it’s the planning stage that is most often overlooked.
No matter if you are using your in-house writers or hiring a freelance writer, planning is essential when it comes to white paper writing. Without a good plan, or creative brief in place important information can get overlooked.
So what key questions should you be discussing at the planning stage?
Questions about teamwork.
Questions about content and structure.
Compared to other forms of marketing, creating a white paper generally takes more time, involves more people, and requires a greater overall investment, so it’s important to get the groundwork right.
Remember, once written a white paper can provide an excellent source of content to re-purpose into slide decks, blog posts and other bite sized content to attract your customers' attention
Ever heard of NLP?
NLP stands for neuro-linguistic programming.
Neuro as in the brain, linguistic as in language, and programming as in computers. In a nutshell, it’s using the power of words to re-program the brain and change behaviour. Not a million miles away from copywriting when you think about it.
I've always been fascinated by the power of language to influence and persuade. So many years ago I trained as a Clinical Hypnotherapist and then as an NLP Practitioner and it’s been the bedrock of my business ever since.
One of the most useful skills health writers can learn from NLP is how to enhance written rapport to increase reader engagement. To do that, you need to capture your reader's attention right from the start. That means using language patterns that suits the other person’s preferred communication style, whether their perception of the world around them is primarily visual, auditory or kinaesthetic / feeling.
Why is this important?
Because the words that have the greatest impact and convey the most meaning are those most closely aligned to the readers own preferred representational system.
We all have one sensory modality that we give preference to over the others and it's useful to know what this is so you don't let that bias creep into your writing.
Consider the examples below and see if you can recognise your own language preferences.
Visual language patterns.
Do you see what I mean? How does that look to you?
I get the picture. That appears to be OK.
Auditory language patterns.
That sounds good to me. Do you hear what I’m saying?
Tell me again. Listen, I’ve got an idea.
Kinaesthetic or feeling language patterns.
I need to get a better grasp of what you’re saying. That feels OK to me.
You need to get a grip of the situation. Let go and move on.
Can you recognise your own sensory preferences from these examples?
Even just listening to yourself speaking out loud for a while should give you a clue as to whether you are primarily visual, auditory, or feeling in your perception of the world around you.
Speaking your reader's language.
As a writer, having an awareness of representational systems is important because it reminds you to cover all sensory modalities in your writing. The temptation is to write, as you speak, using your preferred sensory words to communicate your message. And because they are your words, you probably won’t even be aware if you are being biased.
But you need to appeal to all of your readers. Not just the ones who share your own language patterns.
Now that you know how to spot those visual, auditory and feeling words, have a look back through your latest blog posts, articles or information leaflets and make sure you use them all to make the greatest impact on your readers.
Whenever you are writing for your patients and customers, it’s important to choose words that will engage them strongly and deeply. Words that will paint a picture for them, strike a chord, or perhaps even touch their hearts.
If you have an interest in medical copywriting, you’ll already know that it's good practice to use sensory language throughout your copy but having some background knowledge of NLP can make your writing even more effective.
It's one of those little details that can help your business stand out amongst the competition.
Need to write a guided meditation, a mindfulness exercise, or a self-help audiobook?
Writing for the ear, not the eye requires a different writing style if you want to keep your listeners attention!
Here are my top tips to get you started
Remember a script that is well written can help you gain subscribers and showcase your content in a way that is memorable and engaging.
Click here to read more about how to write for audio narration.
It has been said that intuition is one of a writers most useful tools. It has certainly helped me whenever I have felt stuck, or blocked, or simply undecided as to which way to go. Of course, to use your intuition is a very natural thing to do, you don't need any special skills to do it, just a genuine desire to get results and the commitment to practice with focused attention.
The main reasons why intuition can be such a valuable aspect of successful writing is that it gives you a resource that provides an additional level of information that does not come from the logical, analytical, or rational side of your brain alone. It can be both a valuable resource and a reliable tool when its language is understood. With practice, you can improve your creative breakthroughs and even increase your sensitivity and awareness to forthcoming changes in the marketplace.
Most people would agree that intuition is the ability to access the knowledge that you already know but don't know that you know.
It can help to generate unique ideas to write about, overcome 'writer's block', resolve problems with your manuscript, or get a sense of where your niche market is headed next.
It is often described as a sudden insight, a feeling of knowing, or certainty that arrives without effort. Unlike facts which rely on external information, intuition is a direct experience that is self-evident and self-validating.
It is either meaningful, or it is not.
For example, it is not uncommon to experience an "intuitive flash" where you suddenly know something that your conscious mind was unaware of. The trick is to be able to summon this intuitive knowledge, on demand, consciously and on purpose. Your intuition is a natural skill, it is an ability that we all possess, but like any other kind of skill, it gets better with the right kind of practice.
As intuitive intelligence is linked to the more creative, right side of the brain you will probably find that the information you receive may come in a wide variety of ways such as inner sight, hearing, feelings, or perhaps a variety of these sensory experiences combined together. Best of all your intuition can be summoned at will, and the sooner you understand that the easier it will be for you to develop your 'intuitive muscles'.
The first step . . .
The first step in this process is to be able to identify and distinguish your intuitive voice from the background noise of fear, desires, imaginings and normal mental chatter.
and then the next step.
Next, you need to learn to trust and follow your intuition. Listening to the heart as some people describe it is key to getting more information. Your intuitive guidance system is sensitive and non-invasive and if its messages are not being appreciated, they will diminish in frequency. On the other hand with care and cultivation, they will increase in both frequency and accuracy so that you can come to trust and rely on your intuitive intelligence.
Usually, we call this having a hunch, or a gut feeling about something, but whatever you chose to call it, it is that quality of direct and immediate knowledge that tells you what you need to know, when you need to know it. In other words your intuition can help to connect you with greater knowledge than is available to your conscious mind alone. It connects you with that part of yourself that has an overview of your life and which always has your best interest at heart and just like any other skill the more you practice the more proficient you become.
All of us have a natural capacity for intuition but sadly formal education and social conditioning often means that these natural talents have been suppressed or forgotten; but it doesn't have to be this way, intuition is a skill that can be learnt and much like a 'mental muscle' your intuition can become much stronger with the right kind of practice.
Use it for inspired and enhanced decision making, for unleashing and accessing hidden creativity and for checking on the wisdom of your rational analysis.
Use it for everything!
Hi, I'm Anne, welcome to the Mind Body Ink blog.