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A tale of four white papers [with SAMPLES]

four white paper covers

Out of all 300+ white papers I’ve worked on, a few stand out in my recollections. This is the story of four of those projects, and what we can learn from them. There’s nothing magical or heroic about these stories. What makes them memorable is that each project faced a different challenge: An impossible deadline…

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5 reasons white papers are challenged: data and stories

photo of slice of dessert soufflé with coffee

Let’s compare a white paper to a dessert soufflé. Done right, a soufflé is an extraordinary dessert that gets people talking. But making a great soufflé takes the right ingredients, the right recipe, and an oven and soufflé pan in tip-top shape. If you’re missing one of these, your soufflé will fall flat. By the…

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6 reasons white papers fail: data and stories

Not every white paper that’s started ever gets finished. In fact, my data shows 1 in 6 white papers fail. At That White Paper Guy, I recently analyzed 300 of my white paper projects going back to 1997. I was shocked to discover that 50 of these white papers—1 in 6—were abandoned and never published. …

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How I analyzed 300 white papers

smiley faces to signify white paper ratings: green orange red

I recently reviewed all the white papers I worked on from 1997 to 2020. The results were fascinating. Of these 300 white papers, a full 50 were abandoned and never published. That’s 1 in 6. Three dozen more were published, but with clear defects. That’s 1 in 9. That means 214 of my papers (71%)…

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White papers and… the polar vortex?!

photo of Niagara Falls frozen by polar vortex

If you live in the Midwest, the Pacific Northwest or Canada, in 2018-19 you probably experienced a tough winter. Snow fell like crazy and the temperatures plummeted. Cars didn’t start, flights and trains were cancelled, meetings were postponed. Even mail wasn’t delivered in some places. Niagara Falls froze over, as shown above. That’s rare. And…

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White papers and… renovating a bathroom?!

Bathroom renovation mess

Have you ever renovated a bathroom? I’m not talking about a new shower curtain.  I’m talking about a rip-and-replace.  That means tearing out everything down to the studs, hacking out the old plumbing, ripping up the old wiring; redoing the ceiling, walls, and floor; replacing the vanity, tub, toilet…  And I’m in the middle of…

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When clients “ghost” writers: Advice for both sides

fuzzy photo of ghost to represent client ghosting a white paper writer

A marketing person asks me to do a white paper for their company. They’re excited to have me on their team. Using my time-tested method, I deliver an executive summary. The client approves it with no reservations. They pay my first invoice. I expand the executive summary into a full-length draft. It’s the right length.…

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18 must-do’s to promote a white paper

fingers turning knob through different stages of the customer journey

So you wrote a white paper. Now what? Now it’s time to get it in front of your target readers. And that means doing promotions. There are lots of ways to promote a white paper. In fact, my book White Papers For Dummies includes a list of 40 possible promotions. But not every tactic works for…

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12 steps to great white paper project management

A white paper project is a complex undertaking, with many moving parts. Here are 12 steps to an effective white paper project. We created each of these steps after going through a painful experience with a white paper that went off the rails A few were never even completed, despite my best efforts. So consider…

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