What is a white paper and why your business needs it

Surprisingly, in the domestic market, white papers (white books) are one of the most undervalued content marketing tools. Despite its immense popularity abroad, few in Russia still know about it. When our account managers mention white books in their conversation with a client, misunderstanding invariably arises. What it is? What are they needed for? Why are they so effective? Even in the FAQ section they somehow asked about it.

In this regard, we decided to prepare a large and detailed material on this subject. We hope that all questions will disappear after you, and you will understand how many advantages this marketing tool hides in itself.

Definition and main characteristics

If you ask 10 marketers about what a white book is, get 10 different answers. The shortest definition was given by an expert in the field of white books, Gordon Gram. According to him:

The White Paper is a small, compelling guide ordered by an organization as part of marketing content.

Not too clarified the situation, is not it?

Of course, this definition is too narrow and overlooks a bunch of important characteristics, without which no white paper can do. So let me add it slightly:

  • The white paper does not impose anything and does not contain advertising. It helps users solve their problems and only due to this it inclines them in favor of the product being described.
  • The white paper is used at different stages of the conversion scenario, but always before the sale, and not after.
  • The white paper must be written in formal language in a narrative form.
  • The volume of the white book - at least 6 pages. Moreover, in the west it can be called a small brochure and a 100-page report.
  • The white paper presents facts, not opinions.

Gram divides all the huge number of white book varieties into 3 large groups (examples of white books in English are taken from his website):

  1. Background Grader (“Real-Time Advert Auction”)
  2. Numbered list ("9 best practices of online assessment in colleges and universities")
  3. Problem and solution ("Loss of customers over time")

And here is an example of the formulation of the problem and its solutions in the Russian-language white paper: "Guide to preparing for redesign."

Below is a table that will allow you to deal in detail with each of the above-listed types of white books, as well as tell you what to consider when writing and promoting them.



Numbered list

Problem and solution


A comprehensive overview of the properties and benefits of a particular product or service.

A numbered list of tips, features, questions, or answers to a specific topic.

A small guide that uses convincing facts and logical conclusions to present a new solution to a specific problem.

Lecture hall

B2B buyers in the final stage of the conversion scenario (just before purchase).

Anyone interested in the topic.

B2B clients at the beginning of the conversion scenario, as well as analysts, bloggers, journalists and partners.

An approach

The actual description of the technical and business benefits of the product or service.

Easy and lively overview of key points or features of a particular topic.

Useful information about a widespread problem in the industry, thanks to which the company has the authority of an expert.


To consolidate the expert status of the company

To support the release of a new product

For technical evaluation or comparison of existing products.

To attract the attention of provocative statements

In order to send fear, insecurity and doubts on rivals

To engage subscribers in a conversion scenario (many are willing to leave their data to get the necessary answers to their questions)

To generate leads

To train your market

To increase your company awareness


1. Introduction

2. Specifications and Benefits

3. Conclusion and call to action, as well as information about the company

1. Introduction

2. Numbered list

3. Conclusions and call to action (optional)

4. Company information (optional)

1. The main provisions

2. Review industry problems

3. Existing decisions and their flaws

4. New, improved solution

5. Case examples (optional)

6. Buyer's Guide

7. Conclusions and call to action

8. Company Information

How to improve the appearance of a white paper

Few of your customers can even handle 10 pages of dry text. What to say about more serious volumes? However, you can make it easier for them to read using one of the suggested options for improving your text on each page:

  • Key points (bullets). Let's take a short description after each key point. Avoid lists of 20 or more paragraphs in a row or several paragraphs of text after each paragraph.
  • Headlines. Use 2 types of headings: use a larger font for the main ones, and subtitles should be bold. Let readers run through their eyes and read on.
  • Quotes. Put the key idea of ​​each page into a separate quote (no more than 20 words). Make this text larger. You can see how this is done in magazines.
  • Side Fields. Remove from the text all subthemes or enumerations, bring them to the fields so that the reader can delve into the main topic.
  • Tables. Present the numbers, opinions, or lists as a table in order to reduce the text volume and make the information more accessible for viewing.
  • Spaces and free spaces. Leave free space above, below and on the sides of the page, and the text width should not exceed 60 characters to facilitate reading.

Ways to promote white paper

In order for your target audience to notice your new white paper, you need to beat its release as a mini-launch of a new product. Use different promotion tactics and follow them until they bring results. Do not give up advertising too quickly and be sure to use the following effective tactics:

  • Create an excerpt from your book
  • Make an announcement of your book on the site
  • Tell about it in your corporate newspaper (if you have one)
  • Distribute it among your sales force and partners (if any)
  • Send it to your database of subscribers.
  • Write about it in social networks, in groups with similar subjects.
  • Post press release
  • Send it to popular journalists in your field.
  • Send it to popular bloggers in your field.
  • Create a presentation
  • Send the presentation to your sales managers and partners.

How to understand if your company needs white books?

To do this, you need to answer 3 simple questions:

  1. Are you selling something new?
  2. Something difficult to understand?
  3. Something expensive?

Any B2B entrepreneur who sells something relatively new or innovative, as well as something complicated or expensive can take a leading position in the market, attract leads, or close a big deal using a white paper. It’s not so important if you sell a product, service, technology or methodology, you need a white paper. And that's why.

Question number 1. Are you selling something new?

When you market a completely new product, it’s not so easy to figure it out. There are no articles on this product in trade or scientific journals, there are no books about it. No information on the forums or websites on the Internet. And no one is promoting it yet.

You need to provide as much useful and detailed information as possible. You're lucky if you are a Google employee - you can shoot a colorful viral video, tell Google Glass to the whole world and show its use in 2 minutes. However, if you have developed a new product or technology in agriculture, programming, or online assessment of exam results, you should better use detailed technical descriptions of characteristics and benefits.

White papers are one of the most effective tools for launching and exploring your product.

As soon as your information and product becomes public, and the offer is easily recognizable, the importance of white books will decrease significantly.

Question number 2. Do you sell something difficult to understand?

Offering something complex, potential buyers need an explanation and help. You cannot understand a service, product, technology, or methodology just by looking at them. After a while, if the proposal becomes everyday and adapts to the consumer level, the need for white books is eliminated.

In 1981, IBM introduced the first personal computer. It took a team of experts to create a revolution in the computer market of the time, and then long technical explanations were required. Undoubtedly, the company that created the first personal computer used many technical documents and reports to present its product.

When buyers are ready to buy your product, you should eliminate any doubts by providing them with detailed and comprehensive information about the product.

Today, you can buy a laptop or PC at any specialty store. Of course, there is an instruction there, but it is unlikely that you will need it to figure out how to turn it on, off, or log in to a social network.

Question number 3. Do you sell something expensive?

Buy something expensive - a serious decision for each person. At the corporate level, this decision is made by the top executive, and, in some cases, the selection committee, consisting of specialists from various departments of your company. Everyone will have a lot of questions.

So the white book in this case is a great way to introduce decision makers with your great answers.

Over time, if the price of your proposal drops so much that any small business can acquire it, the value of the white books will drop significantly.

For example, you all know the laser pointer. Perhaps you played like that in your childhood or your children play with that now. They are sold in every souvenir shop and cost a penny, but in 1969, purchasing the first industrial laser was extremely expensive. Suppliers had to write very compelling white books about this incredibly expensive and innovative invention, so that someone would agree to buy it.

You have to provide a detailed justification of your price, the technical characteristics of the product and its advantages in solving the existing problem, as well as to simplify the decision-making process as much as possible.

Nowadays, lasers are used in many medical and research procedures, and the purchase decision is made on the basis of the main characteristics of the laser, supplier reputation and price.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you should write a white paper about your product or service. Your competitors (speaking of the domestic market), most likely, do not even guess about them. And your consumers will be delighted with the competent presentation of your services or product specifics.

It is not enough to create a unique product that will carry phenomenal value and benefits for your customers. It is also necessary to be able to competently and intelligibly convey this information to the market. This will help you white books.

Need a white book? You can order its creation in our agency. On our account more than 100 work performed.

Watch the video: So what exactly is a white paper? (December 2019).


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