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What Are White Papers? Objective, Definition, Varieties, & Historical past


What’s the function of white papers?

White papers construct belief with an off-the-cuff reader, put you on the map for a goal buyer researching their choices, and make each stage of your gross sales funnel extra environment friendly.


What Does “White Paper” Imply?

Definition Of White Papers

A white paper is a advertising asset that argues a selected place or solves an issue in your viewers. It’s a doc that helps you determine topical authority and share authentic insights, knowledge, and experience.

White papers are extra complicated and superior than different advertising codecs like articles or emails. They have a tendency to have longer content material that covers a subject in-depth by means of intensive analysis.

Corporations, manufacturers, and nonprofits package deal white papers into PDF paperwork and supply them in trade for an e-mail deal with (and sometimes extra data, like firm dimension, job function, and site). This chance makes them an excellent lead magnet.

White papers have been round for many years—even longer than content material advertising, which white papers are a part of:

Graph displaying history of white paper popularity as derived from Google Trends analysis. Supply

White papers is usually a useful gizmo in each stage of your gross sales funnel. On the prime of the funnel, you’ll be able to deal with in-depth schooling; for prospects later within the funnel, you’ll be able to share sensible, action-driven ideas.

Listed below are examples of each sorts of white papers:

Make sure you think about different downloadable content material codecs based mostly in your viewers and targets.

Right here’s what to bear in mind about white papers, case research, and ebooks:

Finest use circumstances for white papers:


  1. Formal

  2. Based mostly on authentic insights (knowledge, interviews, and so on.)

  3. Singular focus

Finest use circumstances for case research:


  1. One particular situation with one buyer

  2. Follows a challenge-solutions-results story arc

Finest use circumstances for ebooks:


  1. Lengthy-form

  2. May be informal or skilled

  3. Broader subject

Varieties Of White Papers

What is taken into account a white paper? There are many examples so that you can take inspiration from.

White papers can take totally different types and show you how to obtain a variety of goals. Listed below are the kinds to contemplate when writing considered one of your individual.

1. Technical White Paper

An example of a Technical White Paper from Oracle. Supply

A technical white paper describes how know-how solves a selected drawback. This white paper kind often focuses on a selected product or a technical course of behind an answer. Oracle’s white paper on deploying an Exadata DB system is an effective instance of this.

Technical white papers are sometimes a part of content material hubs like a tech documentation library or a safety heart. They’re geared toward a tech-savvy viewers. These white papers characteristic parts like diagrams, tables, screenshots, and flowcharts to assist convey essentially the most complicated factors.

2. Enterprise Advantages White Paper

An example of a Business Benefits white paper from Nextiva. Supply

Enterprise advantages white papers goal a non-technical viewers. Not like technical white papers, which present how sure know-how works, a enterprise advantages white paper makes a enterprise case for a sure product or know-how. Nextiva’s VoIP concerns for small companies white paper is a good instance.

A majority of these white papers purpose to direct and simplify the reader’s strategy of researching and shopping for an answer for his or her drawback. This tactic makes them a strong asset in the course of the funnel, as that is when your potential purchaser is evaluating various kinds of choices.

3. Product Comparability White Paper

An example of a product comparison white paper from Dot Source. Supply

A product comparability white paper targets readers who know the kind of product they’re shopping for, however haven’t but picked a vendor to purchase from.

You should use this format to match your product and its options with these of your rivals. Should you’re a service supplier, you are able to do what dotSource, a digital company, did with their Choosing Advertising Automation Programs white paper: examine merchandise for an issue you remedy, which positions you as the perfect accomplice to rent.

4. How-To / Downside-Fixing White Paper

An example of a Problem Solving White Paper from FreshBooks. Supply

Is there an issue many individuals in your business battle with? If you recognize the answer to the issue, and it’s deeper and extra complicated than what you’d cowl in an everyday weblog put up, a problem-solving white paper is an ideal format to make use of.

This how-to white paper is right for lead era on the prime of your funnel, however your gross sales workforce can use it in conversations with prospects and prospects in any respect phases because it positions you because the professional with the correct expertise. An awesome instance of such a white paper is FreshBooks’ 6 Good Methods To Future-Proof Your Enterprise.

5. Thought Management White Paper

Cover art from the book Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. Supply

A thought management white paper permits you to place an authentic idea inside your market. This white paper kind sometimes challenges a generally accepted perception or method of fixing an issue, and it makes use of distinctive knowledge and expertise to introduce a brand new method.

Right here’s an instance of this you may acknowledge: Inbound Advertising by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. Whereas it was a ebook moderately than a white paper, this piece of authentic work introduced us a wholly new method of promoting our companies and concepts.

You possibly can introduce a brand new method—your method—to tackling your viewers’s ache factors by means of thought management white papers.

6. Instructional White Paper

An example of an Educational White paper from SynergyLabs. Supply

An academic white paper provides you the prospect to show readers a few topic associated to your online business. Since white papers have such an emphasis on analysis, you’ll be able to dig deep into tutorial {and professional} sources for these paperwork.

For example, SynergyLabs, a pet care items producer, create white papers on the scientific knowledge behind totally different well being options. Their Scientific Knowledge: Sizzling Spot & Itch Reduction white paper explores scientific papers on utilizing lidocaine and hydrocortisone for pores and skin irritation in animals.

By sharing this data on the scientifically supported advantages of sure elements, they inform the reader and promote their merchandise with these elements.

7. Market Analysis White Paper

An example of a Market Research White Paper by Pipedrive. Supply

Market analysis white papers present statistics and insights on a market or business. Should you’ve ever seen a white paper titled “The State Of…”, it in all probability falls on this class.

Pipedrive affords insights into the gross sales business by means of its State of Gross sales Report. These stories clarify salespeople’s habits and ways to assist readers get a aggressive edge out there.

When you’ve got the sources to carry out the analysis wanted for a market analysis white paper, your prospects might look to you for a aggressive edge, too.

8. Visionary White Paper

Cover art for Shopify's 2022 "Future of Commerce Trend Report" Supply

Visionary white papers supply a imaginative and prescient of an business’s future based mostly on professional information and analysis.

Shopify combines this format with the market analysis format in its yearly Way forward for Commerce Pattern Report. The 2022 version shares market analysis statistics, then suggests finest practices for the business’s future based mostly on these numbers.

Professionals in retail and ecommerce rely on these stories yearly for up-to-date statistics, making Shopify a thought chief within the area.

(Take into account that not each “Future Of…” white paper is a visionary paper—market analysis papers can use that title, too.)

White Paper FAQs

What Is The Historical past Of White Papers?

Of their varied types, white papers have all the time given professionals steerage by means of in-depth analysis. The time period initially referred to authorities paperwork, however now it additionally applies to the enterprise stories we all know at this time.

The British authorities first used the phrase “white paper” in 1920. Then, Gertrude Bell offered her report “Evaluation of the Civil Administration of Mesopotamia” to British Parliament.

A couple of years later in 1922, the Churchill White Paper, a U.Ok. authorities report on Palestine, popularized the time period. From then on, different governments began calling related stories white papers.

Transfer ahead 70 years, and companies started to discuss with sure promotional paperwork as white papers within the early Nineteen Nineties.

Why Is A White Paper Known as A White Paper?

The fashionable time period for “white paper” comes from two sources:


  • In keeping with Stanford Legislation College, folks began utilizing the phrase when governments color-coded papers based mostly on distribution. White papers have been open for public entry.

  • A TechTarget article says that a number of variations of Webster’s Dictionary outline a white paper as a blue ebook’s shorter counterpart. Whereas blue books have been intensive stories certain in blue, white papers have been briefer publications with white binding — the identical shade because the textual content.

Who Are White Papers Written For?

Advertising white papers are typically created with the aim of persuading a decision-maker to favor the fascinating outcomes the white paper presents. Study extra about discovering your target market right here.



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