Posted by on September 4, 2010

I’ve written or edited more whitepapers than I’d care to remember. If you’d asked me a few years ago, I’d probably have told you they’d soon go the way of the dodo bird. But here we are in 2010 and they remain a powerful tool for vendors and buyers alike.

So, why is it? Why are whitepapers so powerful? I mean, you rarely hear anyone at a cocktail party extolling the virtues of a recently downloaded whitepaper from a networking vendor. But they persist.

Here’s what the good whitepapers do (and here’s what you should do every time):

  • Give readers real value: You should try to uncover something new, show an angle that has been neglected. Or, and here’s the kicker, update something that was successful last year. People will eat it up.
  • Provide more than the stump speech: Go in depth on the subject at hand. Provide lots of charts, but keep your prose light. Complex subjects demand a simple approach.
  • Focus on business or technical problems–not on product, ever: At the point when they’re reading a whitepaper, your prospects don’t care about product.
  • Provide a “what’s next”: Don’t leave your readers hanging. After 5, 6, 10 pages (6 pages is an ideal length, but some subjects might need less and others more), have the courtesy to provide a conclusion and several recommendations.

This is my first post on this blog, so in the next several posts I’ll go through the points I’ve outlined and give you more reasons and maybe even provide an example or two of whitepapers that I’ve seen work very well.

What whitepapers do you like and why? I’d love to know.

Read the second and third entries in this series.

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Comments

  1. The whitepaper just won’t go away, part III - [...] the first and second entries in this [...]
  2. The whitepaper just won’t go away, part II - [...] the first and third entries in this [...]
  3. The whitepaper just won’t go away, part IV - [...] the first, second and third entries in this [...]
  4. The whitepaper just won’t go away, part V - [...] The whitepaper just won't go away, part V Posted by Mark on September 18, 2010 // Whitepapers [...]

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