White Papers - A Great Promotional Tool
Would you like to be known as an expert in your field? Are you looking for a way to add to your permission based mailing lists? Do you have a product or service that can be seen as a solution to a business problem? The answer is the “white paper”.
to Michael Stelzner, the leading expert on writing white papers and the author
of Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged:
“Well-written white papers help people make decisions, such as buy a product,
sign a contract or follow a new initiative. Often, white papers go viral and
have a big influence on an industry.”
You probably are familiar with
white papers from reading trade magazines where a shortened version appears as
an “advertorial.” Used to create a positive image of a company in the eyes
of its readership, white papers are documents that are fact-driven and contain
useful information, expert opinions and present a solution to a problem. They
are formatted to present the features of products or services and translate them
into business advantages. They logically present information, beginning with
challenges and ending with a strategy to resolve issues.
papers started as public policy documents. The British White Paper of 1922 (also
known as the Churchill White Paper) is one of the most famous white papers.
The term white paper is an offshoot of the term white book, referring to
the substitution of a formal binding for a white sheet of paper.
In the 1970s,
white papers were internal corporate documents that revealed strategy and
tactical plans, and were referred to as marketing requirement documents. The
technology industry then adopted the format as the definitive marketing vehicle
for promoting their products to corporation CIOs and purchasers of corporate
So how can a producing a white paper benefit my business?
A white paper is a great method through which to promote your business. It can be used as online collateral, as handouts to support live presentations, as email attachments in business correspondence, as incentive offers within advertisements and as a core ingredient within a direct mail campaign.
white papers are prospect magnets. They are able to fly under the radar and
penetrate most organizations' anti-marketing defenses because they are sought
after and brought into the organization by decision-makers. This means leads for
the sponsoring company and ultimately sales."
As people request your white papers, they become a great way to fulfill “permission-based marketing” requirements, helping your business expand its e-mail lists for future marketing campaigns and mailings.
Lastly, a well written and researched white paper can position you as an expert, a “thought leader” in your field.
If by now your wondering “But I’ve never read a ‘white paper’!” that is because you may be more accustomed to the term “guide” rather than white paper.
Some white paper factoids
Research indicates that executives examine an average of 30 white papers each year and more than half claimed white papers influence their buying decisions. Source: Bitpipe. (February 2004). Bitpipe network user study: Readership usage of white papers in the IT buying process.
Research revealed that white papers are more likely to be read than reviews, analyst reports, product literature, websites, articles or case studies. Source: CMO Council and KnowledgeStorm. (September 2005). Define what's valued online.
White papers are more effective for lead generation than webinars, free trials, seminars and newsletters. Source: MarketingSherpa. (2005). IT marketing benchmark guide 2005-2006.
© 2006 Leona M Seufert
A. Stelzner is one of the leading authorities on the topic of writing and
marketing white papers. He has written nearly 100 white papers for many of the
world's most recognized companies, including Microsoft, FedEx, Motorola,
Monster, Hewlett-Packard and SAP.