It's easy to overload technology white papers with content that is irrelevant and poorly structured for the reader's interest. These bloated documents can mean not only diminished marketing results, but also a missed opportunity for delivering the information prospects seek.
According to an Eccolo Media survey of IT buyers, "... white papers that don't contain enough technical information are more likely to disappoint than those that possess too much."
The ideas below will help you avoid this problem by trimming the "fat"--unnecessary or excessive content--from your technical white papers.
Avoid throat-clearing text. Many documents begin with a history review, basic definitions, personal reflections, or company positioning statements. This content may seem like necessary stage-setting or a way to ease into the main text. But unless it's essential for understanding the document's topic, throat-clearing text can quickly lose the reader's interest in the rest of the material.
A good white paper writer will look at the introductory text with the questions: How can we get to the point faster? If I was a reader, would this white paper capture my interest right away and would I be willing to read further?
Tailor the corporate boilerplate text. Basic information about your company isn't the place to drone on about your company's mission, historical achievements, information about individual products, commitment to providing outstanding customer support, blah, blah, blah. Instead, create one short paragraph with a link to an About Us page on your website that contains more detail.
Segment lengthy content. Are you trying to cram too much content into one white paper? Instead, segment and sequence that content into multiple papers, including cross-reference links where appropriate.
Narrative text. Instead of complete sentences and full paragraphs, some types of information can be presented more clearly and concisely in bullet lists, tables, infographics, and links to other content.
Now, with the "fat" out of the document, you can look at adding more "meat"--the substantive content that is directly related to the white paper's topic.
Remember: "The writer does the most who gives his reader the most knowledge and takes from him the least time." Charles Caleb Colton
Do you have other techniques for making content more relevant readers interests?