between a dry-as-dust academic paper and an annual report. But some white papers are as colorful as a cereal box.
The typical white paper is distributed as a PDF on the web.
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A backgrounder is like zooming in on one specific offering with a microscope. For more on these three flavors and how to use them effectively, see my special report “How to Pick the Perfect Flavor for Your Next White Paper.” Beyond these, many other terms are commonly used to describe white papers: But all these descriptive terms fit under one or another of the three main types, so they’re not as helpful.
Back to top Each type is most appropriate for delivering certain information to a certain audience, as shown below.
For a longer discussion, see my article “When is a white paper NOT a white paper.” Back to top White papers and blog posts are usually quite simple to tell apart.
White papers are usually PDF downloads of 3,000 to 5,000 words.
Problem/solution white paper: for prospects near the start of the buying cycle who are using the Web to research a nagging business or technical problem Back to top Remember that there are no “rules” or universal standards for what makes a white paper… By my definition, a problem/solution white paper contains useful information to help people understand some relatively new, complex or expensive offering they are considering buying for their business.
There are many other types of useful information, but I don’t consider them white papers.
In a way, blog posts are a good place to test out your ideas, as they come together.
You can gather comments and feedback, and see how your online audience connects with your ideas.
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