The first law of writing, know your audience. To that end, read this:
High-tech companies produce a lot of white papers, and many IT managers use them
A white paper is an authoritative document intended to fully inform the reader on a particular topic. It combines expert knowledge and research into a document that argues for a specific solution or recommendation.
The white paper allows the reader to understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.
White papers are data-centric, text-heavy business documents. Due to the large amount of data and research, white papers are deep reads and tend to have a formal tone.
White papers abound in the technology sector, where they are commonly used to explain software and hardware products.
The contents of your white paper should serve to showcase your expertise in a given area.
And as a corollary to the above,
This model acknowledges that skeptical prospects are hungry for a vendor who will serve as a trusted advisor, not just a peddler of their wares.
White Papers, Case Studies, Lead Generation Marketing are all B2B Marketing. It might do you some good to start with Bob Bly’s free B2B Marketing Handbook in pdf.
1. Are White Papers Dead? Bob Bly.
2. White Paper University, $106, Bob Bly [The Edu-Marketing Revolution].
3. Blogs v. White Papers? I didn’t realize that they were in competition for the same audience.
4. Bob Bly to the rescue. A cornucopia of How-to business letters.
5. ThatWhitePaperGuy’s website. Not Bob Bly, but Gordon Graham. I have to say that after reviewing Graham’s page(s) that he has definitely positioned himself as an expert. He’s written the book, White Papers for Dummies, 2013. But my first impression of him years ago was that he was outdated, at least that was the impression I got from his marketing or landing page. But here are the reviews of his book by top copywriters. Here is the content of his book.
6. from the White Paper Copywriter. Her name is Angie Mansfield.
Otherwise, let’s talk numbers. According to a survey of B2B buyers conducted by Eccolo Media, white papers are ranked #2 in terms of the most influential content buyers read before making a purchase. Only product brochures/data sheets ranked higher (and, it’s interesting to note, case studies came in a close third).
7. This was the best thing that I’ve read on white papers. It’s by John Wood, titled “Six Steps to Writing a Successful White Paper,” John Wood, What I liked about it is that he featured the pricing of white papers, the first time I’d ever seen this. He writes
When you’re just starting out, you should be able to ask for a fee of at least $2,500 per white paper.
If you do a good job, that figure will rise quickly.
By your fourth white paper, you should be able to bump up your asking price to $4,000 per white paper. And after a year or so, you should be able to charge $5,000 (or more).
As you can see, it can be very lucrative …
If you write just two white papers your first month, you’ll make $5,000. By your second, you could potentially be on track to make $8,000 a month ($96,000 a year), again by writing just two white papers per month.
Like everything in life, the more you do something, the faster and better you get at it. After a while, you should be able to write three to four white papers each month and bring in between $150,000 and $200,000 per year!
My concern now is is this pricing reliable? I have never seen the price of a white paper anywhere online
Did not know that there are different types of white papers. What are they?
RESEARCH STRATEGIES for WHITE PAPERS
1. Interview executives in the field. This means finding experts in the field. Who is going to give me an interview? I’m nobody in any field. Graham says to use this Conference Calling service. You’ll need to record your interview if it is done by phone. Taking good notes during the conversation may not be enough. Graham says that you’ll need transcriptions. Not sure why.
2. Press Releases. Gordon Graham on research sources.
3. Harvard Business Review.
4. TechTarget acquired KnowledgeStorm.
5. Once a white paper has been submitted, be sure to send all of your sources for the article. Graham shows you what and how.
This writer says to use Wolfram Alpha. He explains,
Wolfram Alpha calls itself a “computational knowledge engine.” What does that mean? It’s a search engine for facts and data with calculation functionality built in. It’s an extremely robust and powerful tool for research. [He adds that],
While we can’t go too far in-depth on how to use Wolfram Alpha here, they have plenty of help guides and resources to get you on your way.
It looks like Wolfram Alpha is good for graphing mathematical equations and that’s it. He also provides resources to use for your research. This is helpful. At least it’s something.
1. U.S. Small Business Administration.
2. American FactFinder [from the U.S. Census Bureau].
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which I’ve used for pay and job descriptions.
4. Forrester. It requires a download.
5. Finally, some practical resources . . . by whom? You guessed it, Gordon Graham. He doesn’t like the Huffington Post. Regarding trust, Graham points out that this issue is bigger than ever, due in part to the loss of trust from fake news during 2017. He says that trust from mainstream media is pretty much toast. Note even how the NYT has destroyed its trust with its audience. As Lew Rockwell has pointed out time and again, they’re losing readership. So whom do we trust? Graham explains “Instead, we gain more credibility by quoting from technical experts, academics, and business people. And it’s better to find disinterested third parties, rather than company employees.”
6. Bloomberg https://www.bloomberg.com/ – they appear to keep their finger on the pulse of the world.
7. Nielson http://www.nielsen.com/ – global consumer market data.
8. IMF (International Monetary Fund) http://www.imf.org – for financial data on almost every country in the world. Their reports are mostly free and kept up-to-date.
9. IEA (International Energy Agency) https://www.iea.org/ – for climate and energy info although it only covers countries who are members of this organization.
10. UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) http://www.undp.org/ – has fascinating data on us i.e. Education levels, equality issues, life expectancy, etc.
11. FAQs on White Papers by Gordon Graham.
Another helpful article. The guy owns a development shop. That’s not me. Inane competition for content in marketing. How do you rise above the noise? Fill in the missing stat or stata? Datapoint that is missing? What do people say but rarely support? How much time does it take to create a blog post? 2.5 hours. Longitudinal and trending data. The average length is 1050 words with bloggers using analytics. Publish daily [get better results] dropped 50%. Monthly publications spiked up. Quantity and frequency matter a lot.
from Gordon Graham:
In advertising, the problem is low engagement with video and online ads. TV advertisers especially have no reliable way to track responses to their ads.
What if you could give consumers a way to jump right from a video ad to an online shopping website and even reward them for the click?
A cryptocurrency that paid consumers to watch ads could do that.
In day-trading, the problem is how to emulate the success of a few good traders.
What if you could find a way to encode the results of the best traders and even predict their future moves?
A cryptocurrency backed up by good AI could do that.
The healthcare system is straining from the huge number of aging Baby Boomers. And many people fear that pensions, benefits, and retirement savings can’t keep up with escalating costs.
What if you could find a way to pay for healthcare with a currency that gains in value instead of losing to inflation like our dollars?
A cryptocurrency could do that.
SAMPLE WHITE PAPERS
1. Top White Papers, 2018.
2. Ball Industries & White Papers.
3. A title that Bob Bly offered as a sample, “Free White Paper shows how to cut training costs up to 90% with e-learning” to show urgency.
MARKETING WHITE PAPERS
Start with White Paper Syndication sites? Wait, what are white paper syndication sites to begin with? “media organizations that consolidate various marketing assets such as whitepapers, case studies, podcasts, webinars, and videos into content libraries.”
AUDIENCE: WHO READS WHITE PAPERS?
Gordon Graham seems to have all the answers.
1. Corporate executives (decision-makers)
2. Finance executives (financial recommenders)
3. IT managers and staff (technical recommenders)
4. Line-of-business managers (managers)
5. User representatives (users)
6. In-house supporters of the purchase (“champions”)
WHO IS THE AUDIENCE? WHAT DO THEY WANT?
IT people generally want to see technical details. They will tolerate longer papers with modest production values. In fact, a slick and colorful format tends to make them suspicious.
Executives want to see bottom-line benefits summed up in a page or two. They want to hear about lower costs, better sales, higher profits or improved customer service. Executives expect polished production, with clear graphics they can understand at a glance.
Managers want to hear about streamlined workflow and labor savings. They are keen to see how a new system would affect their area and its people.
User reps want to hear about ease-of-use, training, and support. They can be more or less technical, but they will likely be detail-oriented. Users are not often a significant audience for white papers. But if a user rep is involved in a selection committee, you need to address their concerns at some point.
A mixed audience or selection committee may want to hear everything touched on above. In this case, you may need several white papers, each with a different flavor and each with content geared to a somewhat different audience.
PAY in WHITE PAPERS
Yes, there is Fiverr.com and Scripted where you can hire someone to write a white paper for anywhere between $5 and $300. However, our research shows that the “average” cost for a white paper is around $4,200. Writers with specific professional knowledge and experience more often charge from $5,000 to $7,000. From a budgeting perspective, you need to look to spend roughly $500 per page.
Bob Bly wrote to tell me that
a blog post is worth $300 to $500. But a white paper is $2,000 to $5,000.
I think those numbers are overblown. Doing just a little search, I found the site Forrester which posts active product developers. This woman charges $349 for one of her reports and $500 for another. And be clear that what you are writing is not some college essay, but a report with financials, trends, graphs, results, and so forth. Another writer writes about Battle Cards in Sales, documents that compare your company/services/product with another company’s. Oh, what joys.
from Graham Gordon
How much does a white paper cost?
According to the biggest industry survey ever taken, it costs $5,000 to $7,000 to hire an experienced white paper writer.¹
And that was more than 10 years ago.
Sure, you can find a writer for less. But can you afford to gamble on a beginner?
Consider what a truly effective white paper can do:
Generate lots of high-quality leads
Create buzz around your product or service
Land million$ in $ales
Long after the bills are paid and forgotten, an effective white paper will still be working hard for you.
That’s why hiring a seasoned pro to help with your white paper is a smart investment.
Why not make 2019 the year you “up your game” with white papers that really get results?
Bob Bly really is the best. Here he is explaining essentially how to write to please multiple audiences on a product:
Bob Bly: Absolutely. The classic example, an easy one to understand, is selling enterprise software to corporations. The user—let’s say it’s a system that is involved with supply chain management. The user,who might be a manufacturing manager, wants to know that this software system—it might cost $10,000 or $100,000—they want to know that’s it’s going to do everything that they want it to do. That it will manage the inventory and streamline the order process. They just want to know that it will work and be efficient and give them all the benefits that they want. The IT person, though, has this completely different concern. Sure, they want it to do what the user wants, but the IT person wants to make sure it works with their existing infrastructure, that it’s compatible with their servers and their other legacy systems, that it can be integrated with the other software that they use that would have to feed data into it. So they have a technical issue that the end-user doesn’t. Then, in addition to the IT department who we might say is the technical buyer and the end user who is the business buyer, then there’s the financial buyer. The company’s CFO might get involved and say, “Wait a minute, you want to us spend $100,000 on this system—you guys in IT and manufacturing—to make your lives easier. But from the company’s point of view, we’re not going to do it if it’s only going to save us $20,000. We’d be losing money. On the other hand, if it’s going to cut our costs by $100,000 in six months, then it’ll pay back double its cost in a year. Then I’m okay with it.” So there’s a financial influence. And then there may be others, but those are the major ones.
7. Getting Copywriting Clients, Bob Bly.
This was interesting.
Yes! I congratulated a contact’s work anniversary and asked if I could help with white papers etc. He sent me his phone number and email. I sent him a couple of writing samples about topics in his field. He said they were spot on and for me to please call him next week.
WHERE’S THE MARKET for WHITE PAPERS
Bob Bly writes that
It’s impossible to sell a product or service without demand–no matter how low the price or how big the discount. Edu-marketing creates demand by showing prospects why they need your products and services, how to make intelligent buying decisions, and how to best use it after they buy. (p. 11)
SUCCESSFUL WHITE PAPERS ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS
A successful white paper answers questions that must be answered before prospects will buy:
1. Who benefits from the product or service?
2. What benefits does the product or service offer?
3. When is the product or service needed?
4. Why is the product or service better than other products and services designed for the same application?
5. Where is the product used?
6. How do you choose and use it? (p. 11)
Here again, Bob Bly is too good:
Conventional advertising is hard to create because it’s judged by its creativity–how effectively it attracts attention, how clearly it delivers its message, and how memorable it is. By comparison, edu-marketing is easier to create because the goal is to inform rather than interrupt, manipulate, or show off. (p. 11)
TYPES of WHITE PAPERS
Who knew there were types? Find a shortlist here.
1. One type is the backgrounder, in which the benefits of their product, service, or methodology are explained in depth.
2. Another is a problem-solution approach, which walks the audience through the solution to a problem that is common in their industry.
3. And a Numbered List. Gordon Graham provides the most thorough explanation on how to write these, when to write these, and for whom. He’s quite good. But here he alludes to 8 different types but then only covers requirements for the 3 he highlighted earlier.
4. Ryan Malone identifies 5 types of White Papers.
5. Meghan McKenzie identifies 3 just as Graham does.
6. John Cole points to 3 types as well, but he elaborates a bit more about how to construct each one. This was good.
1. Daly-Schwartz Public Relations, Orange County, CA.
1. White Paper Marketing Handbooks, Bob Bly, 2006.
2. White Papers for Dummies, Graham Gordon, 2013
3. Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged, Michael Stelzner, 2006.
4. Crafting White Paper 2.0: Designing Infomation for Today’s Time and Attention-Challenged Business Reader, Jonathan Kantor, 2010.
5. Be sure to check out the B2B books recommended by Graham Gordon.
How to Write High Impact White Papers, Nick Copley, 2003. I wasn’t able to find this book anywhere online.
1. Bitpipe. An online archive of IT-related white papers.
2. Bettermanagement.com/default.aspx. White papers on business and IT strategy and management.
3. itpapers.techrepublic.com/. Another website with IT white papers. cooperresearchassociates.com. Cooper Research Associates (CRA) specializes in writing white papers for IT and other technology clients.
4. itpapers.com is the largest collection of technical white papers on the internet.
5. ezine-universe.com, directory of ezines searchable by topic.
6. printingforless.com, printer specializing in promotional newsletters.
7. sprintgraphics.com/website /index.cfm is a printer specializing in booklets. No longer live.
1. “The Steak Behind the Sizzle: Effective Marketing Using White Papers,” Elissa Miller, Pragmatic Institute, 2003.
2. “How to Win an Award for Your White Paper,” Marketing Sherpa, April 25, 2003.