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White Paper World 37: February 16, 2024

  • Listen up: Now there’s audio!
  • Quick tip: 3 steps to a stronger title [with example]
  • This just in: 6 out of 10 B2B marketers use white papers, again
  • Help with your next white paper: Get a blueprint!

Listen up: Now there’s audio!

1 minute read. 1 minute listen.


cartoon of GG with text saying Now you can listen

             Created with Bitmoji

Drum roll, please!

You can now listen to an audio version of every item in this newsletter.

Well, I follow a few podcasts I really enjoy.

And whenever I listen, I’m reminded that “the written word” started off as “the spoken word” aka the oral tradition aka telling stories around a fire.

So I believe the spoken word and the written word are two sides of the same coin.

From now on, I’ll create an audio version of every item.

And I’ll note the reading time and listening time at the top of every item.

Please let me know what you think. You can drop me a note anytime to gordon @ that

Or you can simply carry on reading!


bride in white wedding dress holding red roses

Quick tip: 3 steps to a strong title [with example]

4 minute read. 6:13 minute listen.

The most important line in any white paper is the titl.

A good title gets your paper noticed. A poor title gets it ignored.

But many writers struggle with titles. So here’s a step-by-step process that makes writing your title as simple as 1-2-3.

The key is to break your title into three parts that you always include:

  1. A main title that touches on the topic in a lively way
  2. A short label for your document
  3. A subtitle that states exactly who the paper is for

Let’s look at each of these three elements and how to write them.

Step 1: Write the main title

This first line really needs to pop. You want to come up with something memorable or provocative that will stand out in a list.

That way, more readers will click on your title to see your paper.

Your main title will depend on which flavor of white paper you’re doing.

scoop of strawberry ice cream

For a numbered list, your title pretty much writes itself.

Always start with a number: “7 proven tips on…”

And use a numeral, don’t spell out the number as a word. Starting a title with a numeral will push your white paper to the top of any list.

scoop of chocolate ice cream

For a problem/solution, you have several choices.

You can highlight the problem:
Are your telecom costs out of control?

Or you can describe the benefits of a solution:
Enhance patient safety and reduce costs by fighting SSIs.

Or you can do both at once: “Three critical issues in handling Modernized E-file (MeF) forms, and how to solve them with an online hub.”

scoop of vanilla ice creamFor a backgrounder, name the product and the features covered by your paper:
Iron-clad security in the Scan-o-matic 3000.”

A backgrounder is the only flavor of white paper where you want to mention a product name in the title.

Step 2: Write the label

Be careful here. You should only call your piece a “white paper” if your audience sees white papers often, and won’t be turned off or intimidated by that label.

In some fields, a white paper sounds foreign or academic or like too much work to read.

If so, use a friendlier label like “guide” or “briefing” or my favorite “special report.”

Step 3: Write the subtitle

Go back to your audience analysis. You did an audience analysis, correct?

The brief description you came up with then fits right in here.

For a quick recap, this includes some demographics about the target reader, a description of their company, and the main worry they’re dealing with.

Then you put all three parts together for a strong result. Like so:

Main title on first line
Short label + subtitle on second line

redheaded writer at work

Let’s try writing a white paper title

Say you’re working on a white paper for a company like Shopify. The goal is to help reach a new vertical: bridal shop owners.

Up until now, a wedding dress was always considered to be a sizeable consumer purchase that required personal attention and coming to the shop for fittings.

But today’s brides are used to buying clothes and shoes online. Why not their wedding dress too?

Your company has noticed Amazon trying to muscle its way into wedding dresses.

But you have a plan: You can help bridal shops set up e-commerce on their websites. That way, shops can show off some wedding dresses online plus invite brides in for an on-site fitting.

Amazon can’t do that.

Now you just need a white paper to launch your new service.

How to write the three parts of this sample title

The main title: The problem is the threat of a big e-commerce site stealing sales from local bridal shops. That’s pretty clear and simple.

So for the main title, you can trigger the fear of any small bridal shop owner with a rhetorical question:

  • “Will any customers come to my shop any more?”
  • “Will my sales drop off a cliff?”
  • Or bring it all down to one person: “Where will she buy her wedding dress?”

The label: Most bridal shop owners have never seen a white paper. So that label could really turn them off.

Instead, call your document “a special report.”

The subtitle: In the subtitle, tell it like it is.

As for your audience, you don’t care if they’re men or women, young or old. Any owner of a bridal shop could be worried about Amazon.

So your subtitle can just state this directly. There’s no need for puns or cleverness. Business people don’t have much patience for those anyway.

Here’s how all three parts come together

1: Main titleWhere will she buy her wedding dress?
2: Short labelA special report
3: Subtitlefor bridal shop owners worried about Amazon stealing your sales
Mockup cover for white paper with title: Where will she buy her wedding dress?

A cover showing this white paper title

To make up the cover, ask your designer to use the main title above the fold at the top in big type.

And then run the label on the same line as the subtitle in smaller type underneath.

Have them find a stock photo that sums up the problem at a glance. If they can’t find one, they can generate one with AI or even take their own photo.

Check out the sample cover here.

What do you think? Isn’t this a punchy title and a good cover?

If you were a bridal shop owner, wouldn’t you grab that to read it?

So there you have the three steps to a stronger title: Write the main title, write a short label, and write a subtitle.

Try this approach for your next white paper. Good luck!


6 out of 10 B2B marketers use white papers in 2024, again

This just in: 6 out of 10 B2B marketers use white papers, again

2 minute read. 2:45 minute listen.


Well, this is starting to get… boring.

The 2024 survey from the Content Marketing Institute says 59% of B2B marketers surveyed use white papers. Again.

The 10-year rolling average shown in the graphic above is 63%. Again.

We can say that 6 out of 10 B2B marketers use white papers. Again.

Listen, I’m not really complaining. I love the fact that so many marketers find white papers essential.

But that number—59% or 63% or whatever—isn’t really the point.

I would actually prefer white papers to be used by only 1 in 2 or 1 in 3 B2B marketers, if they all were using them really well.

The fact is, I still see too many white papers that are less engaging and persuasive than they could be.

What’s new in this year’s survey: AI

how B2B marketers use AI CMI survey 2024

Of course, what’s new this year is generative AI. The CMI slide above shows how B2B marketers say they use it.

Almost 3 out of 4 marketers are using AI in some way, especially to do brainstorming (51%), research (45%) and writing (45%).

Which AI tools are most popular?

Freebies win by a mile here, with 91% of marketers using free tools like ChatGPT.

Only 27% use paid tools like Writer or Jasper.

Another 38% use the AI built into their content management systems.

But taken together, those last two numbers mean that 65% of marketers surveyed are using some form of paid AI.

Social media: LinkedIn rules, TikTok drools

social media logos of LinkedIn, X and TikTok

For B2B marketers, LinkedIn rules. TikTok and X, not so much.

is by far the preferred social media channel for B2B marketers, scoring 84%. Facebook trails at 29%. And TikTok rates a paltry 3%.

TikTok skews young and silly. And the app is banned on most government devices in the US and Canada.

Do you really think your prospects are searching TikTok for guidance on their next big business purchase?

Me neither. And 81% of B2B marketers don’t bother with it. At all.

By the way, one-third of marketers surveyed have reduced their use of X (formerly Twitter).

By now, most B2B marketers have learned that just because a platform is popular with consumers, you won’t necessarily find your ideal prospects there.


Must-go: AI for Writers Summit March 6, 2024

There’s still time to sign up for this must-go event for any writer curious about AI.

You can see my report on last year’s event here:

To register free, visit


a blueprint becoming a frame becoming a finished kitchen to signify a white paper blueprint

Need help with your next white paper?

1.5 minute read. 1:52 minute listen.



  • Not sure where to start?
  • Wondering how to pull together everything you need?
  • Worried about managing such a big project?

Get a blueprint!

After working on 320 white papers, I can help you sketch out your next project in just a few minutes.

Whether you’re a marketing manager or a B2B writer, getting your White Paper Blueprint is as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Set up a one-hour Zoom with everyone who needs to review your paper
  2. On that Zoom, I guide your team through a set of key questions.
  3. I send you a detailed blueprint for your white paper.

But wait, there’s more!

closeup on scaffolding on a construction siteI won’t just hand you a blueprint and disappear. I’ll stay in touch as your project takes shape.

You can ask me any questions that pop up as you go along.

That’s like me helping you put up the temporary scaffolding you need to build your paper.

And for a modest fee, I can read your drafts and send you my comments.
That’s like inviting me on-site to do an inspection.

In all these ways—initial planning, help as you go, and final review—I can make sure your project runs smoothly, gets published successfully, and generates the results you need.

No AI can do all that!

So if you need some help getting started on your next white paper, drop me a line at gordon @

And here’s a special gift to my subscribers: If you mention this newsletter, I’ll reduce your fees by 25%.

That will bring down your fee from $975 to $725—so you save $250.


That’s all for this issue

Please pass this issue along to any of your writer buddies who you think would appreciate it.

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

And to make sure you see every future issue, visit:

Gordon Graham
That White Paper GuyWhite Paper World logo Feb-2024

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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