White Papers For Dummies
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Use the right type of white paper for the right challenge: either a backgrounder, a numbered list, or a problem/solution. The following table outlines the features of each type of white paper and gives you an idea of when to use each one.

Characteristic Backgrounder Numbered List Problem/Solution
Definition An in-depth look at the features and benefits of a certain product or service A numbered set of tips, questions, answers, or points about some issue A persuasive essay that uses facts and logic to present a new solution to a problem
Audience B2B buyers near the bottom of the sales funnel Anyone interested in the issue B2B buyers near the top of the sales funnel; also analysts, bloggers, channel partners, and journalists
Approach A factual description of the technical or business benefits of a product or service A light and lively roundup of points or highlights about some issue Useful information about an industry-wide problem that educates readers and positions your company as a trusted advisor
When to use To support your firm’s position as an undisputed leader in the field
To support technical evaluations
To support a product launch
To get attention with provocative views
To cast FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) on competitors
To nurture prospects through a complex sale
To generate leads
To educate your market
To build recognition for your company
Length 8+ pages plus cover 5 to 7+ pages plus cover 8 to 12 pages plus cover
Typical contents Introduction
Features and benefits of each feature
Conclusions and call to action
About the company
Numbered points (between 3 and 9)
Conclusions and call to action (optional)
About the company (optional)
Executive summary
Industry-wide problem
Existing solutions and drawbacks
New, improved solution
Case study (optional)
Buyer’s guide
Conclusions and call to action
About the company

About This Article

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About the book author:

Gordon Graham — also known as That White Paper Guy — is an award-winning writer who has created more than 200 B2B white papers for clients from New York to Australia. Gordon has written white papers on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, and for everyone from tiny start-ups to Google.

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