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Quick Tip: Don’t ask dumb questions

a SME disturbed by the dumb questions a writer is asking on a Zoom

Some people say, “There’s so such thing as a dumb question.” I disagree. Here’s why. Say you’ve lined up an interview with the VP of R&D for a white paper you’re working on. There are plenty of dumb questions you could ask a busy manager like that. Dumb question #1: Anything way too open-ended —”What does…

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Quick Tip: Push your listicle to the top

push your listicle to the top

Quick tip: Push your listicles to the top AP Style and everyone else says to spell out numbers up to nine when you’re writing copy or content, right? But you really should break this rule when naming a numbered list (listicle). Here’s why. Consider two white papers, called: —Three Secrets of SEO You Must Understand…

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Quick Tip: 3 keys to better writing

3 keys from a keyboard that makes for better writing

Are you struggling to achieve a crisp, business-like writing style? Here are three keys to better writing. They’re all right there on your keyboard, and using them is free. Delete key: Cut unnecessary words   And replace longer words with shorter words. Here’s one trick for doing that. Whenever you see similar terms joined with…

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Quick Tip: Teach, don’t preach

priest giving sermon

  What’s the #1 problem with too many white papers? If you said “too much selling,” you’re right. There’s a time and place for a sales pitch. But a white paper is neither. I first heard this 20+ years ago when I interviewed executives from the two largest white paper syndication services at the time. “The…

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Quick Tip: Write AS you speak

Dictation feature in Word

Some classic advice to writers is “write like you speak.” So why not write AS you speak? Why not dictate the first draft of your next white paper? Here are just a few of the benefits: It’s 2.5X faster than typing. It leaves your hands free to juggle through sources. It removes more of the…

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Quick Tip: Show people on your white paper covers

show people on your white paper cover

The cover of any white paper is extremely valuable real estate. Don’t waste this space by showing nothing but text. That approach went out in the 1990s. Here are three old-fashioned examples.       What’s wrong with these covers? Well, many things: They’re not engaging They’re not visual, except for the splats of color They’re…

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Quick Tip: Don’t make your readers squint

40-ish woman with glasses having trouble reading

My pet peeve about B2B content is basic, impossible to argue with, and simple to fix. Don’t make your readers squint and struggle to read your text Make your text crisp, easy-to-read, 100% black type. If you’re a young designer, remember: You’re not designing for yourself. You’re designing for your readers, many of them 40, 50,…

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Quick Tip: Name your white papers right

Improve your SEO for white papers

This tip applies to everyone: writers, marketers, agencies, and designers. You know how most organizations have some system for naming files? And those names go something like this: whppr-cdv10bb4f-220417e-FINAL-FINAL.pdf And those filenames end up on your white papers when they’re published? Or maybe somebody along the way renames each white paper to match your corporate…

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Quick Tip: Move up your Executive Summary

quick tip: move up your executive summary

We all know the proper page order for a white paper, right? The proper page flow is clearly like this: Page 1: The cover that attracts attention with a graphic and catchy title Page 2: The Contents that show at-a-glance what’s inside Page 3: The all-important Executive Summary that sums up the main ideas I…

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Tips on using dictation software to write

Using voice recognition in an office

Marketer or writer, you need to get text out of your mind and onto your screen every day. Most people do that by typing. If you’re fast, you might get 60 words a minute. But you can talk at something like 150 words a minute: 2.5 times that fast. That’s why I love dictation software:…

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