- Quick Tip: Don’t use shoddy statistics [with example]
- This just in: Cool GPTs for B2B writers
- December book giveaway: Tell me about a good book
- Need help with your next white paper?
Quick Tip: Don’t use shoddy statistics
White papers need solid proof to make their case.
But don’t fabricate shoddy statistics out of thin air.
If you try to make up a snappy-sounding statistic, you’re taking a huge risk.
You’re gambling that:
- You can get away with deceiving prospects
- No one will question your sources or analysis
- No one will tell anyone else if they uncover the deception
Remember the goal of your white paper: To build a connection and position your company as a trusted advisor.
If you fumble that goal by using shoddy statistics, prospects will trust you less. They may avoid buying from your company. They may even go on social media to badmouth you.
Is that what you want? Is that why your client is paying you?
Of course not.
Example: a number taken out of context
One common form of shoddy statistic is a number taken out of context.
While at first glance this can look great or terrible, it’s actually meaningless.
Here’s one I spotted when I was traveling over Thanksgiving. At the hotel, I picked up a free newspaper: the Canadian National Post for Tuesday, November 21, 2023.
Here’s the biggest headline on the front page:
PM devotes 25% of his time to ‘personal days’
Sounds terrible, right?
Here’s the lead paragraph:
“Since coming to power in 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken 680 “personal days”—the equivalent of 22 months or nearly two years—an analysis of his public itineraries shows.”
These numbers are drawn from the Prime Minister’s official schedules, so the data is presumably reliable.
But what does this statistic mean?
When you turn to page 4—which not every reader does—the article carries on:
The bulk of these days—68%—were taken on weekends, and spent mostly in the National Capital Region.
That’s Ottawa, the capital of Canada where Trudeau lives.
And here’s the real kicker:
The Prime Minister’s personal day rate of 24% is still well below the 34% of days in a year most Canadian workers are off, including statutory holidays and two weeks of paid vacation.
So in fact, Trudeau takes less personal time off than the average worker!
Listen, I’m not a big fan of Justin Trudeau.
But if you’re trying to prove he’s a slacker, you need something more substantial than this faked-up statistic.
Why is this stat shoddy?
Trudeau probably does take 24% of the week for personal time.
But that stat is taken way out of context:
- It includes weekends, which are personal time for most jobs
- It’s stretched from 22 months to “nearly two years”
- It’s given in a vacuum, with no other stats for comparison
As soon as we know that most workers get 34% of the week for personal time, the shock value of this stat disappears like hot air from a popped balloon.
The National Post is a conservative newspaper that often criticizes Trudeau and his Liberal party. Fair enough.
But this story was fabricated to give the impression that Trudeau is a slacker who collects his pay from hard-working taxpayers but puts in little effort in return.
The newspaper clearly went into his schedules fishing for any statistic that would back up that narrative.
This kind of clickbait may work well in the echo chamber for all those who dislike Trudeau.
But it doesn’t stand up to the slightest inquiry, does it?
The only alternative: Keep digging
The alternative to making sh*t up is to do your research properly.
If you can’t find the proof you need, keep digging. Check different sources.
And if you turn over every stone and can’t find anything to back up your argument, talk it over with the white paper sponsor.
You may need to reconsider the angle you’re working on.
In my analysis of 300 white papers I worked on, seven were canceled because there was just no story there, nothing to back up our claims.
If that’s the case, admit it and reframe your project.
Don’t be tempted to make up statistics to fill the gap.
When the truth comes out, you and the company you’re writing for will look very bad indeed.
This just in: 2 cool GPTs for B2B writers
Earlier this month—before the kerfuffle with Sam Altman being fired and then rehired as CEO—OpenAI announced an intriguing new feature called GPTs.
These are custom versions of ChatGPT with extra instructions, knowledge, and skills.
They’re easy to create since they don’t require any programming.
That means anyone can build a GPT. And loads of people are.
I’ve come across two that look helpful for B2B writers.
ChatGPT Plus required
To use any GPT, you need to subscribe to ChatGPT Plus for $20 a month.
But if you want to flourish in B2B writing in 2024, I think that’s a wise investment. I signed up for ChatGPT Plus the first day it was available.
I like having access to the latest features and a more advanced language model.
And listen, the latest survey by the Content Marketing Institute showed that 65% of B2B marketers surveyed are using some paid form of AI.
Do you really want to be talking to clients who can access AI features you can’t?
I don’t. So I recommend that you find that $20 and invest in your future. And then test-drive these two cool new GPTs.
Content Marketing GPT
The AI Marketing School is a London-based consulting and training firm led by Tom Cohn and Charlie Braithwaite.
They publish a lively newsletter packed with the latest developments in AI.
A couple weeks ago, they announced what I believe is the world’s first-ever GPT devoted to content marketing.
“Trained on all the latest reports, stats, and insights from the world’s leading content marketers, it’s the perfect content marketing ally and mentor,” they say.
On top of everything ChatGPT can do, the Content Marketing GPT can answer questions, explain best practices, help with planning and strategy, and give reality checks to anything to do with content marketing.
I’ve played with it some and find it fascinating.
And yes, it seems more knowledgeable about content marketing than plain-vanilla ChatGPT.
You can check out the Content Marketing GPT here: https://chat.openai.com/g/g-WvAf4QOY1-content-marketing-gpt
P.S. Just for fun, ask it to name the world’s leading expert in white papers.
Veteran copywriter Nick Usborne was one of the first to glimpse the potential of the web. And now he’s doing the same with AI.
He’s been quick to see that the future for copywriters will involve adding human emotion and persuasion to the strings of words AI spins out.
So Nick jumped in to create a GPT he calls Futureproof Copywriting.
“The GPT has all the knowledge of the regular version of ChatGPT,” he says, “but I also got to train it to focus primarily on copywriting with AI and Emotional Intelligence.”
“That means I gave it dozens of lines of special instructions and uploaded thousands of words of my own writing about copywriting with AI and EI.
“In other words, the Futureproof Copywriting GPT is now a specialist in writing with AI and EI.”
You can check out Nick’s GPT here: https://chat.openai.com/g/g-WUNst3Dvj-futureproof-copywriting
Futureproof your copywriting with Nick Usborne’s course
By the way, Nick’s GPT matches the name of an interesting course he developed this year.
I’ve previewed his Futureproof Copywriting course, and I got a lot out of it.
The course has three main parts:
- A deep dive into AI
- A study of Emotional Intelligence
- Directions on how to combine AI + EI
I especially like Nick’s two real-life case studies where he shows how he worked to push AI through a few rounds of prompts for actual projects.
In his materials, Nick makes the excellent point that Emotionally Intelligent copy is conversational, simple, and built around stories. Indeed, those are strong touch points for any type of writing.
All in all, I highly recommend this course. I think it points the road to the future for all copy and content writers. In brief: AI + EI = A-list copy.
You can find out more here: https://nickusborne.com/futureproof-copywriting/
P.S. I’m not an affiliate. I just think this is a very timely and useful course.
December Book Giveaway: Tell me about a good book for B2B writers
Last issue, I asked for tips on using ChatGPT that I could re-publish.
I got a couple e-mails… thank you Patti Hermes and Bob Martel… from writers using ChatGPT very wisely.
But I didn’t get anything that works as a concrete tip. So I’m sorry to say there’s no winner for that question.
Maybe you think other people are way ahead of you, so you don’t have any worthy tips to share? The fact is, we’re all still learning how to use ChatGPT and other AIs.
So stay tuned for my own modest set of tips next issue.
Meanwhile, here’s an easier question for December:
Tell me about a book you find valuable in your writing that isn’t already on my list here:
Please include a note on why you liked it.
To enter the December Book Giveaway, drop an email to gordon @ thatwhitepaperguy.com by 6 PM Eastern Wednesday, December 6, 2023.
I’ll put your name in the draw for any book on my list.
The winner will have something extra to enjoy over the Christmas break!
And if you’re still shopping for that special writer on your list, consider getting them a book from my list.
Yes, I’m an Amazon affiliate, so I use any dollars I earn for these book giveaways.
Need help with your next white paper?
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So you can ask me any questions that pop up as you go along. I’ll do everything except read your full draft.
And if you need me to do that, I will, for a modest added fee.
Either way, I want to help make sure your project runs smoothly, gets published successfully, and generates the results you need.
So if you need some help getting started on your next white paper, drop me a line at gordon @ thatwhitepaperguy.com
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That’s all for this issue
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