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How to Write and Promote White Papers as a Sales and Marketing Tool

The statistics overwhelmingly support what those of us who have employed this vehicle already know… White papers are a powerful sales and marketing tool:

▪ MarketingSherpa has reported that 69% of prospects download a whitepaper as part of their buying cycle, and 36% of those passalong the white paper to a supervisor.

▪ IT Toolbox has reported that about 70% of large companies rely on white papers, compared with only 59% of smaller companies.

▪ TechTarget revealed that 86% of IT professionals rated white papers as effective information sources AND that they read between 10 and 24 white papers each year.

While these stats show just how important a white paperis to the technical audience, our own experience shows that they are also lead magnets for the non-technical audience. In fact, their effectiveness is critical to the earliest stages of the buying cycle.

The Definition of a White Paper

White Paper – noun

1. An official governmental report.

2. An authoritative report issued by any organization

Source: dictionary.com

Madefamous by Winston Churchill in 1922, the white paper was used to inform, educate, and persuade the public on a particular view or opinion of the author. The white paper received its name due to the fact that the original white papers were printed and bound on white paper, giving off a very institutional (and therefore credible) impression.

In recent years, the white paper has become a criticaltool in the commercial landscape, specifically used to illustrate the details of technologies and/or products being sold. A white paper is written from a specific company’s point-of-view. Therefore, for it to truly qualify as a white paper, it must maintain an educational format and content quality.

A White Paper Content, Layout, Tone, and Authorship



▪ Comeup with a catchy title aimed at intrigue. Do not focus on you or your product. Focus instead on the problem you are solving or the benefit you’re offering. Follow the “news article headline” format. Consider the number one thing the reader will know when they’re done reading the paper and hit that point home! Keep it short and use a subtitle if you need to expand the theme.

Outline:▪ Introduction. In the introduction of your white paper, you will want to set the stage for the premise of the paper. Define the situation and problem your audience currently faces. Summarize your analysis of the situation and introduce (at a high level) how your products, services, and/or technology approach the need.

▪ Solution Detail. This is the meat of your paper. In thissection detail how your technology, product or service is applied to address the need identified in the first section. Make sure your content is educational and not too product focused. This is biggest complaint readers have about white papers. To be credible you have to illustrate your product has considered the bigger picture.

▪ Conclusion. In the conclusion section your job is to summarizeyour position and the premise of your white paper. Here is where you make sure the top 3-5 take-aways you want the reader to leave with are CLEAR. Be sure to end your conclusion with a strong call-to-action. When determining what call-to-action to use, consider the next step in the sales process.

▪ About You. This is the only place in the white paper you should spend the real estatefocused on YOU. In this section, insert your 50 to 100-word statement to help familiarize the reader with your overall market position and product/service offering.

▪ Sources. Include ALL of the sources you used to create your white paper. This section is important to keeping your paper honest and credible. Be sure to include those you’ve interviewed, as well as the books, articles, websites...
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