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Include a buyer’s guide (part 4 of 4)

Part 3 of this article covered how to describe your recommended solution in generic terms.

This goes a long way to persuading your reader using well-informed logic.

Now it’s time to finish the job, with a buyer’s guide.

A buyer’s guide is a short set of bullets that list what to look for in an ideal solution in your recommended category. Once you know how to assemble one, these guides are a breeze to write, and you really should include one in every white paper you create.

bemused_guy - Include a buyer’s guide (part 4 of 4)

Why? Simply because these are such a powerful way to tilt the playing field in your favor.

“In reality, this section is the most powerful and persuasive element of the entire white paper, because you have the opportunity to set the bar against which your competition will be judged,” says white paper expert Mike Stelzner in his book Writing White Papers.

Of course, you make sure that every bullet points to some factor that only your product and your company does best. This establishes the criteria for selecting an ideal solution, and maps these criteria perfectly to your offering.

You can call this section something like:

  • “How to select a… “
  • “How to evaluate an…”
  • “What to look for in an ideal… “

This approach provides a reader with useful content and high perceived value. And a crisp set of bullets is always simple to scan and use as a checklist.

Remember to make these bullets generic. Don’t say that an ideal solution must feature the “Acme MiddoMatic™ processing engine.” That’s too product-specific.

Instead, say that an ideal solution must “provide on-the-fly middleware parsing…” or whatever Acme’s engine does better than anyone else.

A buyer’s guide appeals to a B2B buyer’s sense of logic, and helps cover their need for due diligence in their research. And this positions your offering as the clear winner without ever stating that directly.

Recap: A great framework for a problem/solution white paper

This four-part series has described an effective framework for a modern white paper. With this approach, you are educating your reader and helping them understand some important issue. You are marketing with content, not hitting them over the head with another sales pitch.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • There’s a big problem out there.
  • No one has ever solved it very well.
  • Here’s a new, recommended approach that really works.
  • And here’s how to find a good vendor
    (i.e. your buyer’s guide).

Now all that’s left is your action step, where you tell readers how to find out more about a product that meets all the criteria on the buyer’s guide.

You can cover all this material in as little as four or five pages or as many as 10 or 12. The sweet spot for a problem/solution white paper of this type is, I believe, 6 to 8 pages.

This approach really does work to position a vendor as a trusted advisor that goes out of its way to provide useful content to its prospects.

It may not be easy to write white papers that follow this structure, but it is effective.

And you can be sure that in the vast majority of cases, this approach will work better and last longer than any other type of white paper you can publish.


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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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