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White Paper World 42: June 14, 2024

  • Quick tip: Use AI for tech support
  • Big idea: How to de-position the competition [includes case studies]
  • Just for fun: All the papers of the rainbow

3 minute read. 18:30 minute listen (includes Big Idea):

robot hand making fist bump with human hand

Quick tip: Use AI for tech support

1:15 minute read

Do you ever have software headaches?

Or some new gadget you’re trying to figure out?

I know I do.

But any writer working from a home office doesn’t have any IT team to call.

When we need tech support, we’re often stuck. We can try:

  • Combing through online help for unhelpful answers
  • Searching Google to see if anyone else has the same problem
  • Watching 10-minute videos on YouTube that may not answer our question
  • Waiting for tech support or online chat

All these can be time-consuming and frustrating. But here’s a new twist.

Next time you’re stuck with a tech problem, give AI a try.

robotic hand placing final piece of jigsaw puzzle

AI serves up good answers to tech questions

I recently asked ChatGPT for help with three different software issues.

All three times, the AI helped solve my problem quickly.

Here’s the first prompt I used:

You are a seasoned accounting expert with in-depth knowledge of Quickbooks Online. I’d like your help with a problem.

I am trying to enter an expense and I keep getting this error message:

Something’s not quite right. Unexpected problem: -1

I’m using Safari v17.1 on a recent iMac with 16 Gigs of RAM.

I already cleared my browser cache. What else can I try to solve this problem and get back to work?

ChatGPT instantly came back with a list of seven things to try.

I tried the first suggestion: Refresh the page.

Who woulda thunk it? It worked?!

A few days later, I used AI to answer a question on Camtasia video software. It gave a good answer in five seconds.

And third, ChatGPT patiently guided me to set up a shared drive for confidential records—a problem that had stumped a GeekSquad technician on an all-day house call.

That’s three out of three problems solved in minutes.

So next time you need help with some tech problem, try AI.

And so what if it’s wrong once in a while? So are the people answering tech support calls.


Big idea: How to de-position the competition [includes case studies]

Many white papers try to attack the competition.

This challenge often falls to the white paper writer, with little guidance from the marketing team.

“Show how our solution is better,” they may say. Or something just as vague.

But how do you do that? How do you attack a competitor in a white paper?

Especially when they’re a lot bigger than you are?

This month’s Big Idea shows how, in four simple steps:

  1. Understand positioning
  2. Find the weakness in their strength
  3. Don’t be “nice”
  4. Repeat your de-positioning over and over

Three case studies—two from my own experience—show the same strategy at work in the 1960s, the 1990s, and the 2020s.

And a few quick tips round out that article. It’s a longer read, so I didn’t include it here.

For the 7-minute read, see Big idea: how to de-position the competition

Or you can listen to that in 12:45 minutes: 


a rainbow of papers in all colours

Just for fun: All the papers of the rainbow

1 minute read. 

JUNE IS PRIDE MONTH, which I see as a celebration of everyone’s right to be who they are.

So this is the perfect time to review the many colors of paper designated for different publications. 

Here’s what I’ve found…

Orange papers: An online discussion of addiction and recovery originally written by the anonymous Orange. Thought-provoking and very critical of A.A.

Yellow papers: Research results that have not yet been peer-reviewed or published in any journal, so they lack a certain level of academic credibility. More often called “preprints.”

Green papers: In government, early papers about possible policy directions,  designed to solicit comments and spark discussion.

Blue papers: In government, official policies that are about to be enshrined in legislation, often complete with many details. Also known as “blue books.”

Purple papers: Handwritten notes written by psychic Roland Comtois and later delivered to people at his events who say they answer their questions profoundly.

White papers: In government, proposed policies actively being considered.

In business, persuasive essays that use facts and logic to help a business person understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision. But you knew that already.

Grey literature: Materials published by companies, non-profits, research groups, and think tanks around the world, as opposed to “official” publications coming from governments.

By this definition, B2B writers earn a lot of money creating grey literature.

I can’t endorse the orange or purple papers described above. But they do fit the color scheme nicely, don’t they?

This diversity of papers goes to show that it takes many shades to make a rainbow.

So wherever you live, whatever you write, I hope this month you can let your true colors shine.


That’s all for now

Please pass this newsletter along to anyone you think would appreciate it.

Gordon Graham, That White Paper Guy

See all the previous issues here:

Listen to the audio versions here:

To get every future issue, visit:

And good luck with all your writing projects!

Gordon Graham
That White Paper Guy


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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