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White Paper World 22: May 18, 2023


  • Fresh content: YouTube episodes on my AI white paper
  • This just in: 2023 report on B2B content from NetLine
  • What I’m listening to: “Hurt” by Johnny Cash
  • Big Book Giveaway next issue

Fresh content: YouTube episodes on my AI white paper



If you haven’t yet read the white paper I wrote with ChatGPT, now you can watch the show! 

This is a nine-point numbered list of more than 3,000 words written entirely by ChatGPT 3.5…

… with extensive prompting from me.

Then I wrote a five-page Afterword on the experience.

Now you can listen to a lively discussion of that paper, in two new YouTube episodes of the White Paper Review now online.


Episode 1 deals with what co-host Brian Boys and I liked about that paper:

  • List of nine problems
  • Authoritative tone
  • Strong focus on the white paper format
  • On-target sources (gathered by the new Bing)

AI white paper YouTube screenshot

Episode 2 covers what I found challenging about the process and what we didn’t like about the results:

  • Persnickety behavior of ChatGPT
  • Bogus sources from ChatGPT
  • Flat, bland style
  • Repetitive structure of every point

I’ve been covering AI a lot lately, because I think every writer should know what we’re facing.

Now you can read the paper I wrote with AI, and watch us delve into the experience on the show.


This just in: 2023 report on B2B content from NetLine

“Marketers will never not love white papers,” concludes a new report on B2B content.

But while B2B marketers love white papers, B2B buyers prefer e-books.

cover of 2023-Content-Consumption-Report from NetLine

This disconnect shows up in NetLine’s new report based on analyzing 5.4 million downloads from 2022.

Ever since 2005, “white papers continue to be the most popular format B2B marketers upload for content syndication.” (page 51)

And yet, “E-books were 3.5X more likely to be downloaded in 2022 compared to white papers.” (page 53)

The question is: What’s the diff?

You can pretty much call the same document either an e-book or a white paper.

Here’s how NetLine defines these two formats.

What's an E-book?What's a White Paper?
The ultimate utility in content marketing offering a wide range of uses.

From client featurettes to thought leadership, they can be used to present anything a business wants to feature.
The closest thing content marketers have to scientific studies.

Where e-books have room to be casual, white papers are designed to present data and other vital information as directly as possible.
Source: 2023 State of B2B Content Consumption and Demand Report for Marketer, NetLine, page 53

To me, these definitions don’t clarify much:

  • An e-book can present anything you want, in a casual way
  • A white paper can present vital information, in a direct way

So my advice hasn’t changed. You can get the best of both formats: the gravitas of a white paper with the appeal of an e-book.

Why not simply call your white paper an e-book?

A new best practice: patience

After measuring how long B2B prospects need after downloading a piece of content before taking the next step, NetLine has an obvious suggestion.

“Your audience needs time,” said the report. “We’ve suggested waiting 48 hours from request before engaging your lead.” (page 57)


Nobody wants to download a white paper and then five minutes later get a phone call from a sales guy. Nobody.

So let’s make a little patience a best practice.

Wait at least 48 hours before calling up someone who looked at your white paper.

There’s lots more in the NetLine report, and you can get the whole 59-page report here (registration required).


Johnny Cash "Hurt" screenshot

What I’m Listening to: “Hurt” by Johnny Cash,
with some history

No matter what you think of Johnny Cash, take a listen to this song.

This was one of the last songs he ever recorded, just a few months before his death in 2003.

This is his cover of a song by techno band Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor wrote the song sitting alone in a hotel room, depressed by his drug use.

Cash was no stranger to addiction and dark moods. He was sitting in a wheelchair and riddled with health problems when he covered the song.

And he completely remakes this song, infusing every word and beat with the regrets of a man at the end of his life.

The images complement the music perfectly to sum up a life filled with acclaim from the outside and pain from within.

Both the song and the video are masterpieces recognized by multiple awards:

  • Single of the Year from the Country Music Association
  • Best Cinematography from the MTV Music Awards
  • Best Short Form Music Video from the Grammys
  • One of the 30 All-Time Best Music Videos from Time magazine
  • Best Video of All Time from New Music Express newspaper

It sold millions of copies and was certified double-platinum from the Record Industry Association of America.

If you’ve never heard or seen “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, I invite you to now.

And have a box of tissues nearby.

The older I get, and the more life happens, the more I appreciate it.


Book Giveaway logo

Watch for my big Book Giveaway next issue

I’ve been working on something for weeks now.

I’ll unveil it in our next issue, along with a big Book Giveaway of five books.

So check out this space in the next issue, coming your way early in June.


Thank you for your condolences

James Graham on his 90th birthday

My Dad on his 90th birthday

Thank you to everyone who sent me condolences on the loss of my father, James Graham, in April.

I wasn’t even sure whether to mention it here, but I’m glad I did.

I felt overwhelmed and humbled by your outpouring of good wishes.

And if I didn’t manage to get back to you, please know that I saw your message and it touched me very much.

Thank you.



That’s all for this issue

You can see all the back issues of White Paper World here:

And to see every future issue, make sure to subscribe here:

Gordon Graham
That White Paper Guy

P.S. Remember to watch for the next issue and my biggest-ever Book Giveaway!!

About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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