The White Paper Outline Buffet: The Revolutionary White Paper

This post was written by John White on Tue, 29 Jun 2010 21:44:52 +0000
Posted Under: ideal reader,outline,process of writing,review loop,white papers

Storming the BastillePart 2 in a continuing series of white paper outlines, each with a different structure and focus. Here, an outline for white papers that guide readers through revolutionary change.

This white paper outline is about The Revolution that your new ideas and technologies ignite in your customers’ organization.

Suppose you want your prospects to:

  • replace a zillion spreadsheets with a customer relationship management (CRM) package
  • move from a central headquarters to a virtual structure
  • switch from Microsoft Office to Google Docs
  • change from a traditional phone system to one based on the Internet (VoIP)

When your product or service causes a seismic shift in how your buyers do something as business-integral as place a phone call, you should create a story around it that tells them what they’re in for. A revolutionary change is going to affect People, Process and Technology, and this is the structure on which you’ll base your white paper.

Title

Summary

The same things that apply to the white paper outline for the educational white paper apply here. Establish the people-process-technology theme in the summary and maintain it in your structure throughout the paper.

IMPORTANT: Avoid talking about your product or service by name. This white paper outline is about The Revolution that you occasion, but it’s not specifically about your features and functionality. Leave those for your brochures.

Then dive in. Assume your readers already know what has their hair on fire, are familiar with The Revolution, and want to know how it is going to affect their…

People

First talk about people. Describe how to sell the revolution to different groups in the organization, because if this doesn’t happen smoothly, then process and technology won’t matter very much.

Use a series of quotations – real and imagined – to give a voice to objections, warnings, praises, recommendations and water-cooler talk about The Revolution:

  • “We don’t need agile development because our release cycles are so long.”
  • “Our QA staff is stretched too thin as it is. The added workload of migration would break us.”
  • “We want to spend less on trade shows but aren’t sure that social media is where we should put those dollars.”
  • “We’ve already switched to authoring in DITA/XML tools, but our team is still doing things pretty much the same as before, only more slowly.”
  • “We need to get our overseas offices on board with buying postage off the Web.”

You’ll build the People section around these quotations, ending with a brief segue into…

Process

The Revolution will introduce new vocabulary and new workflow to your readers’ organization. In this section, define that vocabulary in your own terms (this is stealth branding) and outline that workflow as you’ve seen it play out with your other customers.

For example, client Service-now.com reinforces the message that the most successful implementations of its IT service management platform rely on putting processes in place first. Outline these processes in this section as a series of easy-to-read steps.

Technology

Assuming The Revolution has a technology component, it comes last in the white paper outline. Now that you’ve addressed the People’s fears and the novelty of Processes, describe the software, hardware, machinery, materials and capital expansion required:

  • cooling towers
  • data center equipment
  • earth-moving equipment
  • gas turbines
  • rubber bands and staplers
  • Linux servers

If The Revolution is a service, explain the steps for implementing it:

  • 30-minute interviews with executive staff
  • recorded depositions
  • subterranean termite inspections

This isn’t the place for the bill of materials, but you should list anything required to get The Revolution going successfully in terms that make both business and technical sense.

What Can We Expect from The Revolution?

List some of the business and technical benefits customers have experienced. Use pull-quotes. Refer and hyperlink to case studies and success stories, but soft-pedal mention of your product or service, because the essence of the paper is still The Revolution. Don’t worry: your readers know where to find you.

Conclusion and Follow Us

Use these sections to briefly tie up the white paper outline and invite readers to follow you. Your “Follow Us” section should be boilerplate, with the usual pointers: social media, phone, Web, e-mail.

Again, let other marketing pieces specifically describe your product or service. The goal of this white paper is to convince readers that nobody knows more about The Revolution than you do.

How about that? The result is a white paper outline you can circulate. Your reviewers will be able to see the path down which you intend to take the readers of your revolutionary white paper. Once you have their feedback, you can start on the draft.

Next: The Vindication White Paper: Seven Myths Outline

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. He also publishes a newsletter with more tips on working with your writers.


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