Skip to content

White Paper World 7: August 2022

  • Fresh content: New episode of The White Paper Review
  • This just in: How to write an exceptional white paper from CMI
  • Quick tip: Teach, don’t preach
  • What I’m reading: White Papers For Dummies?!
  • Just for fun: Beat the dog days of summer

Fresh content: The White Paper Review

White Paper Review episode 6

An all-new episode of The White Paper Review just dropped on YouTube.

There’s nothing else like this show.

In every episode, my colleague Brian Boys and I showcase two white papers: one we love and one we hate.

We show each page on-screen and talk about what they did right and what they didn’t.

In Episode 6, Brian presents an impressive white paper from Autodesk on a cutting-edge concept: creating a “digital twin” for any new commercial building.

But not all software firms understand how to publish good white papers.

Next, I dissect a white paper from Symantec ruined by a poor corporate template and I show how five entire pages could have been cut.

We don’t pull our punches. And we use each paper as a springboard to tips and best practices.

If you’ve never yet checked out our show, why not give it a look?

It’s like a fun, free, mini-masterclass on how to create an effective white paper.


white paper article in Content Marketing Institute

This just in: White paper article from CMI

The Content Marketing Institute just published a handy roundup article on how to write white papers.

And it starts with quotes from yours truly, That White Paper Guy.

The article sketches my theory of the three flavors of white paper, with samples from my portfolio.

Then it quotes several of my white paper colleagues including Bob BlyBrian Boys, Rachel Foster, and Sarah Greesonbach.

Writer Sarah L. Parker certainly did her homework, including links to 11 white paper examples.

And she includes good tips on providing a strong title, a persuasive executive summary, and credible evidence throughout.

I don’t disagree with anything in the article…

Except perhaps the mention of “thought leadership” at the end.

Happily, this links to a piece that argues a lot of “thought leadership” content is nothing more than “reheated leftovers.”

“I’ve never been comfortable with our industry’s obsession with thought leadership,” writes CMI columnist Jonathan Crossfield.

“I question the methods brands often use to pursue this goal, as well as how they prove they’ve achieved it.”

Hear, hear! You can see my doubts about thought leadership in my article “Three Strikes Against Thought Leadership.”


priest giving sermon

Quick tip: Teach, don’t preach

What’s the #1 problem with too many white papers?

If you said too much selling, you’re right.

There’s a time and place for a sales pitch. But a white paper is neither.

I first heard this 20+ years ago when I interviewed executives from the two largest white paper syndication services at the time.

“The best white papers come at it from an educational tone versus a preachy approach,” said Jay Habegger from Bitpipe.

“We’ve seen the most success with people who use white papers to educate and teach, as opposed to selling,” said Jeff Ramminger from Knowledge Storm.

In other words, you’ve got to prepare the ground and plant the seed before you can harvest a sale.

Too many sales and marketing people want to skip over the education portion and rush into the pitch they’re used to delivering.

But that’s like sending around the collection plate before you deliver the sermon.

If you try that, your prospects will keep their wallets closed and head quickly for the exits.


What I’m reading: White Papers For Dummies?!

Cover of book White Papers For Dummies
But not to see how brilliant it was. Quite the opposite.

To get ready for its 10th anniversary in 2023, I’m re-reading my book White Papers For Dummies to see what’s outdated or irrelevant.

The good news is that there’s not much.

Sure, I’ve deepened some of my ideas over the past 10 years.

But the three flavors and the 12 steps remain as solid as ever.

And the book remains packed with evergreen tips and best practices I learned from doing my first 100+ white papers.


The only parts that are seriously outdated are on software, with mentions of older systems like Windows 7 and Office 2010.

Happily, Word has added useful new features like Read Aloud and Dictation, and it has grouped spelling and grammar checking under the Editor.

I’ve written about those significant changes in my blog.

Now I’m musing about creating some sort of 10th-anniversary update to be available through my site.

But in the meantime, if you’re looking at this book and wondering whether it’s still relevant, I’m happy to say it is.

And you don’t have to take my word for it…

Check out more than 60 5-star reviews for White Papers For Dummies on Amazon.

People have called this book “a ridiculously good value…” with “a lot of sensible tips and tricks” that make it “mandatory for every B2B copywriter.”

And the price today on Amazon is an unbeatable value at just $16.99.


Just for fun: Beat the dog days of summer!

photo of bulldog licking an ice cream cone

Across the Northern Hemisphere, it’s been a terrible summer in many places, with heatwaves, droughts, forest fires, and now floods.

So here’s some comic relief: a bulldog slurping on an ice cream cone.

When we first used it, this shot produced more comments/feedback than any others we’ve used here at TWPG.

I hope you can keep cool and safe as we close out the dog days of summer.

White Paper World will be back soon with more useful tips and advice about long-form B2B content, plus a dash of fun.


That’s all for this time

If you liked this e-newsletter, please forward it to a colleague who’s interested in white papers.

You can see all the previous issues here:

And if you have any comments or questions about white papers, please send them to Gordon AT and I’ll do my best to answer… maybe in my next article!

Good luck with all your 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.

If you liked this post...

White Paper World logo Feb-2024

White Paper World 42: June 14, 2024

Quick tip: Use AI for tech support Big idea: How to de-position the competition [includes...
White Paper World logo Feb-2024

White Paper World 41: May 9, 2024

Quick tip: Get to the point Fresh content: White papers and... pickleball?! April Book Winner:...
White Paper World llogo new Oct 2023

White Paper World 40: April 25, 2024

Shun the TIONs: Part deux Guest tip: Excise the IZEs! Mini-review: The Elements of Technical...

Leave a Comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.