How to unlock the content magic in white papers

Really, white papers? You’re kidding, right?

Well . . . no. White papers are extremely effective tools in helping move prospects to take positive action. [Warning: here comes the “but.”]

But, to benefit from white papers, you need a clear understanding of:

  • What a white paper is
  • Best uses for a white paper
  • The different types of white papers
  • Where/when in the sales cycle white papers fit

According to Investopedia, a white paper is, “an informational document issued by a company to promote or highlight the features of a solution, product or service.” If you notice, there is nothing in that definition that implies white papers are dry and technical, although some consider these documents possesses those traits.

It is true white papers contain no hype. Some may equate a lack of hype and marketing jargon with dryness and boring, which simply is not true. The beauty of a white paper is its ability to present information in a logical, rational manner and help the reader gain the information needed to produce the intended next action.

White papers are extremely effective tools in helping move prospects to take positive action.

When to use white papers

Companies use (or should use) white papers to sell something new on the market, complex in nature or carries a large price tag. Many high-tech companies use white papers. However, any company benefits from a white paper so long as it has a product/service that meets one or any combination of these three criteria:

  1. A new product/service that needs some manner of introduction
  2. A complex product/service to understand or explain
  3. Requires a large investment that the prospect will need to justify/rationalize

Most white papers fit into three main types: a numbered list, background of the product/service and problem/solution.

Three main white paper types

The numbered list white paper is as the name implies . . . it is a list of items. These may be talking points, questions/answers or even specific tips relating to the topic. A numbered white paper is popular to gain and hold the attention of prospects when attempting to sell highly complicated products and services.

A background white paper serves as a supporting document for information that is more technical or a cost/benefit analysis. This white paper deviates from other white papers because the content likely includes product features where the others do not. This paper is sales focused but does so without the hype and jargon associated with a sales sheet or other marketing document. Successful companies use this document at the end of the sales cycle as a way to seal the sale.


Are you attempting to interest prospects in your product/service? Then you should consider using a problem—solution white paper at the start of the sales cycle. This white paper is an educational piece addressing an industry problem your product/service solves. It is chocked full of facts and reason, having a goal of positioning your company as a thought leader and trusted partner. The problem—solution white paper’s purpose is moving prospects to contact you and create the top-of-mind presence. A key part of this white paper is a discussion of solutions currently in the marketplace, why each fails to solve the problem and how your solution ultimately solves the problem.

Unlocking white paper magic

These white papers position companies favorably in the eyes of the prospect and serve as effective sales tools—all without the salesy language associated with other marketing materials.

White papers when written correctly are magical in delivering prospects and moving each to take positive action

So, is a white paper right for you? If so, which one? You can learn more about white papers and other marketing content projects by contacting me for a free consultation. Contact me today.

Phone: (715) 370-2222 * Email: *Or contact me via LinkedIn.


Paul Schroeder is a B2B content marketing specialist and freelance journalist for business publications in Wisconsin. Learn more about brand journalism and content marketing services Paul offers by contacting him at (715) 370-2222, via LinkedIn or email:, or just go to

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