Biotech White papers: 7 Common Mistakes to Avoid

1.    A general title. A general title conveys that the biotech white paper provides a general overview of the topic. The general title does not indicate that the white paper contains highly technical information for solving a specific problem. Buyers are looking for medical devices, software packages, or consulting services to solve a specific problem. Instead of a general title, the title should highlight a specific problem and the new technology or services that improve results.  

2.    The style and vocabulary in the biotech white paper did not match the cadence and vocabulary expected by the target audience.  Ideally, the writer is or was part of the target audience or reads many of the same articles as the target audience. In addition, the writer can interview subject matter experts in the field and read technical articles to be able to match their tone and rhythm.    

3.    The content of the biotech white paper was very broad. When the content is too broad, the white paper can not provide sufficient details to convince the reader to take the desired action, such as order the assay or call for further information on how an expensive device can help solve their main challenges. Instead, white papers should describe a new and better solution to a specific problem. The white paper includes detailed information not only on the problem, but also the common strategies to remedy it and their shortfalls; and then highlights the new technology that overcomes these deficits in current practices. The last page usually includes sponsor information, unique selling points of the product, contact information, and a call to action.

4.    The biotech white paper made claims about the new technology but did not cite respected references or sources to back up the claims. Instead, the writer needs to cite government reports and references from the trade journals or professional journals read by the target audience. Direct quotes from interviews of subject matter experts (SMEs) or the authors from references can provided the needed respected references. Sometimes guidelines developed by professional societies are also cited.

5.    The company’s product was mentioned throughout the white paper.  In contrast to a scientific article or a web page describing the product, white papers usually highlight a new technology that is used by multiple companies. This information is presented in an unbiased manner so that the reader feels comfortable in sharing the white paper with other colleagues on the procurement committee.  The sponsor’s product and contact information is listed on the last page.

6.    The white paper did not have a clear next step for readers.  Each white paper should be written with one main specific objective with zero to three secondary objectives in mind.  Then the client’s objective, such as lead generation, sales tool in sales presentations, build awareness of the new technology, enhance company’s reputation as leader, can be achieved. At the end, the white paper describes the sponsoring company, its product that uses the new technology, and contact information for more information (or other call to action).   

7.   No way to measure response or return on investment was incorporated into the biotech white paper. Sometimes white papers are used in several settings, such as a handout at a sales meeting or a lead generation magnet (Download for readers of a web page). A different code or name of the person to call should be listed in the next step section to indicate how the person received it. This information can help assess the return on investment for each situation.