seesaw with white paper vs case study

White papers versus case studies

Many people are not clear on the differences between white papers and case studies.

But B2B copywriters and marketers must understand when to use each one.

After many years, I’ve come to the conclusion that white papers and case studies are the two most powerful, most convincing, and most cost-effective marketing materials that any B2B vendor can produce.

So what’s the difference?

This table sums up the key differences that most people see between a case study and a white paper.


 Case studies White papers
FocusOne customer's
happy experience
with a product
New solution to an
old problem, or
benefits of some
product or service
MessageHere's a customer
who loves our stuff
Here's a better way
to solve this problem
Length2 pages5 to 12 pages
FormatSlicker: PDF with
color photos,
many columns
Plainer: PDF with
good design and
a few graphics
Lifespan1 or 2 years1 or 2 years,
then refresh
Time to create2 to 6 weeks,
depending on
4 to 12 weeks
When to useLater in sales cycleEarlier in sales cycle
Why to useTo nurture prospectsTo generate leads,
engage prospects,
or explain product
or service


The beauty of case studies…

I believe that case studies are the most cost-effective piece of marketing literature that any technology company can produce.

For $1,500 to $2,000, a B2B company can commission a beautifully designed, magazine-quality case study.

Like speaking face-to-face with a happy customer, this document will reassure any prospect working in a similar industry or facing a similar challenge.

That’s why I’ve written hundreds of B2B case studies: They get results.

The power of white papers…

White papers are the heavy guns of any marketing campaign.

For $5,000 to $7,500 a B2B company can commission a persuasive summary of the business and technical benefits of their product or service.

A good white paper helps a business person to understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.

This document will likely be passed up and down the food chain at your prospect’s company. And it will keep on working for a year or two, maybe longer.

That’s why I write a steady stream of white papers: They get results.

From a B2B marketer’s point of view, the key is to know the difference, and to use each type of document to support your sales team in the best possible way.

Why not use e-mail?

Sure, sending an e-mail is cheaper than creating any original content.

But you can’t keep using the same e-mail for one or two years, like a good case study or white paper.

And you can’t recycle the contents of an e-mail in more than a dozen different ways, like a good case study.

Why not use social media?

Of course, Twitter is easier. But a Tweet is here and gone in an instant. And you can’t put much of an argument into a handful of characters.

I recommend thinking of social media as “pointers” to content, or a place to promote actual content. They’re not really content in themselves.

And for B2B marketing, nothing drives results as well as case studies and white papers.

About Gordon Graham

Author close to 300 white papers on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients everywhere from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, for everyone from tiny startups to 3M, Google and Verizon. Also wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 50 5-star ratings on Amazon. Reviewers call it "a must-read... fantastic... outstanding... terrific... phenomenal... the best book of its kind."

1 Comment

  1. Design Complementing Content - Layerbag on May 7, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    […] Educate: Often your blog, white papers, or case studies are designed to educate your audience about your product or service, how it will benefit them, and […]

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