I have a soft spot for white papers. In the 2000s, they were the top marketing tool used by businesses selling to other businesses.
White papers were powerful at the time because they signaled the start of a global shift away from reliance on traditional publishers, enabling businesses to release their own content directly to customers.
Today, white papers still have the amazing capability to keep delivering value to your ideal readers. And I'm not talking about those boring technical pieces you may be familiar with. Rather, I'm talking about highly engaging business documents that help people solve problems.
White papers are like articles on steroids. They are longer educational documents that help people solve specific problems. They tend to be objective and educational. They are created and distributed by businesses, not in publications. And they sometimes go by different names, like guides, free reports, or ebooks.
Here's a quick example of a white paper I created for FedEx. The title of it was “Speeding the Supply Chain from China.” In it I discussed the challenges of shipping products by oceangoing cargo ships and revealed an alternative: overnight air shipments. The FedEx brand wasn't mentioned until the last page.
The white paper, eight pages long, was designed to help electronics manufacturers learn of a newer, faster transit alternative.
These days, most businesses use white papers to generate leads or grow subscriber lists. White papers can have a remarkably ...