Top Four White Paper Applications

Top Four White Paper Applications

A few weeks ago, we posted four blogs on the craft of white paper writing. These posts covered the pros and cons of hiring freelancers to write your white papers, lead generation strategies using white papers, the optimal length of a white paper, and whether to take risks when developing white papers. It’s been a while since we’ve posted on our favorite subject, so here is the first of a new 2-part series on white papers. In this blog, we’ll talk about the four primary white paper applications. Next week, we’ll cover other potential audiences for your white papers (besides customers).

White Paper Application #1: Thought Leadership

Do you want your organization to be considered a leader in your field? One way to demonstrate this leadership is to convey useful information about your expertise to your target audiences in the form of white papers. Many of our clients tell us they contacted us about developing white papers because they want to establish or enhance thought leadership. After reading your white paper, if potential business clients conclude that you are a leader in your subject area, you’re half way to closing the deal. Wouldn’t you rather work with a leader than a follower, especially if there is a lot riding on your decisions?

White Paper Application #2: Lead Generation

White papers are the primary driver of successful lead generation. Studies have shown that white papers are the information source that business leads seek. For example, in 2014, Eccolo Media surveyed 500 IT professionals on the influence of marketing communications. Respondents ranked white papers as the most consumed type of content (among 17 categories) and the most influential type of content in the purchase process [1].

The offer of a high-quality white paper draws leads to your company web site and rewards them when they arrive. This is particularly important if the information you need to convey involves complex business issues and solutions. But white papers are only effective at lead generation if they are well organized, compelling to read, and provide useful information. A poorly written white paper may even repel prospects and erode the credibility of your company. Please refer to our earlier blog on white paper lead generation for more information.

White Paper Application #3: Communication in the Enterprise Ecosystem

Organizations typically target white papers to a defined external audience, such as business decision makers, or technical decision makers who face a particular type of problem or need. However, organizations can also use white papers to educate and inform a broad array of secondary audiences throughout the enterprise ecosystem. Even though the white papers are not primarily targeted to these additional groups, the papers remain an effective vehicle for conveying useful information to them. These audiences may include employees (e.g., sales forces, executives, legal personnel, and HR personnel), potential employees, contractors (e.g., PR firms, ad agencies), regulatory personnel, the media, analysts, and partners, including resellers, recruiters, suppliers, and investors. We’ll explore this key application more fully in the next blog in this series.

White Paper Application #4: Bridge Building

In many of our client engagements, we have found that the process of working with various members of the client team builds bridges across these teams that in some cases did not exist prior to the engagement. Surprisingly, this may be the most valuable white paper application of all. Improved communication and collaboration between technical and management teams across an organization can encourage cross pollination of ideas, enhance productivity, and improve the corporate culture.

What do you think of these white paper applications? Have you applied white papers in other ways? We’d love to hear from you.


1. “Eccolo Media 2014 B2B Technology Content Survey Report,” survey conducted by Eccolo Media, 2014.

For the last 30 years, Hoffman Marketing Communications has created white papers, collateral, and more recently multimedia, on complex business issues and technologies. Sign up here to get your free copy of our White Paper on White Papers to learn the ten best practices for creating effective white papers.