What is a White Paper?

A white paper is a report or guide that educates your readers on a particular subject or issue. They are not meant to be highly graphic-based, but simply full of information, which is why they are aptly named. 

And by the way, the preferred, and more commonly accepted language is “white paper,” not “whitepaper,” although you wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows if you used the latter.

What is the Purpose and Importance of a White Paper?

A white paper aims to help your readers understand something, whether helping to make an informed decision or addressing an issue or problem. 71% of businesses seek out and read white papers to make buying decisions. This is why they're essential for B2B marketers.

Why Do People Write White Papers?

There are various great reasons that a business may create a white paper. In addition to being informational in general, they’re a fantastic way to collect B2B leads. 

White papers are a way to connect with your audience, make readers aware of your products or services, and position your company as an expert in the field. It’s important to determine and understand your own company’s goals before deciding on a topic for your white paper.

Below are some of the most common goals:

Lead generation

Support for sales teams in the varying stages of the sales cycle

Bringing awareness to a new and/or best practice or a product offering

Positioning the organization as a thought leader

Elaborating on the unique selling proposition (USP) of an organization, product or service

How Do You Pick a Topic for A White Paper?

Once you’ve determined your company’s goals, be it lead generation, sales support or expert information, you’ll need to figure out exactly who you’re targeting. 

Your business may have a wide array of buyer personas, so it’s imperative to narrow down which audience you’re writing your white paper for. For example; with this white paper on white papers, the audience is most likely a marketing specialist within a company, or perhaps the owner of a small to medium sized business. 

Most importantly, white papers are not meant to be hard sells of your product or service. Choose a topic and outline that will present helpful information without being “salesy”.

Are White Papers Still Relevant?

One might think white papers have lost relevance due to the appeal of striking, graphic-rich pieces to the recent generations. But in actuality, white papers are still relevant. 

According to data from a Demand Gen Content Preferences report, 71% of B2B buyers have used white papers in the last 12 months to research purchasing decisions.

What is the Difference Between a White Paper and a Case Study?

Both document forms are written to help you make an informed decision on a product or service by offering solutions to problems. The main difference between the two is that a case study utilizes real-life examples of the solution in action. 

For example, a white paper may show you how to generate leads utilizing Facebook advertising. A case study would detail how ABC Marketing successfully generated leads using Facebook advertising (likely with the help of your company's tools or expertise).

What is the Difference Between a White Paper and an Ebook?

An ebook, short for electronic book, is a complete guide to something but doesn't necessarily solve anything. On the other hand, a white paper is meant to help the reader solve a problem. 

For example, what you're reading right now - while it's a guide to white papers, our primary focus is to teach you how to promote your white paper in a way that increases conversions. So if you're not getting enough traffic to your white paper, we will solve your problem by showing you how.

Writing a white paper not only takes a great deal of knowledge on the subject you're writing about, but it also requires knowing how to put it on paper.

Like what you're reading? Download the complete guide today

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