How to Market Wisdom Using White Papers

Many companies are successfully using white papers to establish credibility and to create a stronger a presence in the marketplace. As a valuable marketing medium, white papers can advocate your company as a professional B2B thought leadership source.

What is a white paper?

Simply put, a white paper is an informative document featuring a solution, product or service. Length can vary from a few pages to 30 pages or more; however, most average between 10 to 12 pages. Most include (and should) graphics such as charts and photos that support the content. Sometimes white papers are called bulletins, special reports, monographs and executive briefings.

What is so great about white papers?

White papers can create a relationship with the reader through education helping to generate leads. The purpose of a white paper is to inform the reader how to solve a problem. This makes the author/company an expert on a topic and hence, a reliable, trustworthy resource.

“We are inundated with information today, but starved for knowledge, wisdom, and solutions. Consumers increasingly turn to those they perceive as experts for this knowledge wisdom, and solutions.”

                                                 - Edward Uhlan, The Rogue of Publishers Row

How to create topics and content

According to Robert Bly, author of The Whitepaper Marketing Handbook, a successful white paper answers questions such as:

  • Who benefits from the product or service?
  • What benefits does the product or service offer?
  • When is the product or service needed?
  • Why is the product or service better than other products and services designed for the same application?
  • Where is the product or service used?
  • How do you choose and use it?

In order to grab the attention of your reader, the topic needs to appeal to a narrow, specific audience. If the topic is too general the important information gets buried or left to the end.

Remember: this is not a traditional promotional piece. Resist the urge to sell. Unlike other sales material, a white paper does not make a hard sales pitch. It feeds the consumers need for help by providing valuable information on a specific subject. Save your promotional efforts, contact information etc. for the back page.

Focus on subjects that can be explained by quick tips, question and answers, and how-to’s. Avoid overly technical speech. Concise, clear writing and grammar are essential.

Appearances count

While content is foremost, a white paper’s appearance varies depending on the company. Some are just simple reports. Others are laid out in a simple, yet professional manner that supports the brand of the company. Other companies get more elaborate, with graphics and charts. For instance, an accounting firm may have a simple title page with their logo, the title, author, etc. However, an advertising agency might use it as a chance to showcase creative aspects of the company.

How to market a white paper

Once the white paper is created, it needs an audience. A successful white paper marketing campaign involves: (1) Determining your target market, and (2) Selecting appropriate media measuring results (e.g. how many were requested and what was the source of the request?).

Press release

An effective way to market a white paper is to distribute a press release to relevant publications. This gets the information to the right people at the right companies. Targeting the right media is much like targeting your audience.

Prospects and customers

Don’t overlook distributing your white paper to prospects and customers. This is an established audience with whom you already have created a rapport.


Offer your white paper directly on your website. Ask people to register so you can add them to your database.

Even with a solid sales-driven plan, a white paper may need the skilled touch of a short-term contractor who can specialize in the white paper development. When considering a firm, ask to see samples of other white papers they have developed. Are they well-written? Do they reflect the style and brand of the company they represent?

With proven results in the business marketplace, white papers have emerged as a thought leadership tool for many companies. Is your company looking to generate more leads and sales? A white paper may be the solution.