Probing Your Target Reader for Greater White Paper Effectiveness

Updated: November 23, 2010

Enclosed are four details that business marketers should ask about their target reader, besides the customary title and position, in order to achieve greater white paper effectiveness:

1. Ask the target reader's age range: The age range of the target reader provides guidance for the most effective format of the white paper. Older audiences tend to devote more time to reading hard copy and prefer text-oriented documents. Younger readers tend to prefer reading material online and as a result, prefer PDFs with a greater number of visual enhancements and page design to be engaged to the content.

2. Ask the gender break down of the target readers: Understanding the percentage break down of males and females that will be reading the white paper provides guidance for including a case study in the white paper. Male readers tend to prefer facts and statistics to backup solution claims, while female readers tend to prefer case studies, proof of concept, and real life examples to reinforce solution advantages and business concepts.

3. Determine the organizational hierarchy of the target reader: This information about the target reader provides guidance as to the total number of individuals involved in the decision making process within the organization. It also provides insight into the number of additional readers that will be needed to reach a decision beyond the primary target reader. With this information, marketers can better understand how many readers/divisions must gain access to the white paper, which can provide insight into the next steps necessary for the distribution of the white paper within the enterprise.

4. Determine the organizational details within the target division: Understanding the target reader's business division and its relationship to the parent company may provide insight whether you will need to reference the parent organization in the white paper. This step is needed to build credibility for the white paper in the target reader's mind.

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