The welcome demise of the “white” paper

When I think of the phrase “white paper”, I think of a paper with lots of white in it and whole lot of boring.  Here are the words that come to mind:

  • Boring
  • Dry
  • Lots of typing, a logo, and maybe some diagrams
  • Written by Product Marketing
  • Edited 1800 times to support product messaging
  • Written to look like is not self-serving which makes it even more self-serving

But marketers are on a creative streak again and it’s awesome for the rest of us.  I wrote some recent posts about how organizations are creating moving infographics and video, and today’s post is how marketers are taking on the traditional whitepaper and creating exciting written content.  Some of the killer written content we are seeing out there is:

  • Designed with exciting colors, images with innovative layouts
  • An exciting topic
  • Readable
  • Interesting role-based content
  • A mix of bullets and paragraphs
  • Has new names instead of whitepaper: Handbook, guide, textbook (see below)

All of this change in how content is presented  is not a re-do of the “arts-and-crafts” movement of the old days.  (Jon Miller loves to call the old way of  marketing “arts and crafts”).  Actually the driver behind this change in how content is presented is conversion which we now measure.  Vendors have to compete with EVERYTHING for the buyers time and attention and the smart ones ask the fundamental question: “What content does my buyer want to read?” not “What do I want to tell my buyer”.  If they want to read it, they will download it and if they download you have a lead or have built some credibility.

I don’t want to take pictures of everyone’s ebook, so please just go and check them out…but I wanted to show you some ideas that inspired this column.

Love this: The Spredfast Social Business Textbook
Re-cap: Lots of great information in here, beautifully designed

spredfast social textbook

The individual pages within the book have great design, you can see here the format of a case study. Visually appealing with readable chunks of content.

Spredfast -Customer Examples

















I have to give props to the Grande Guides which Eloqua started cranking out in 2010 during the ChernovKardon era. They started a string of creating roughly 1 per month and they were designed to be easy reads with beautiful design. They also focused on all topics that their potential buyers cared about. Their product is  not designed to support social selling, but they wrote a Grande Guide on it because that is something their target market cared about. When the Grande Guides first came out, I meant to mention them but never got to it. Now, everyone who led the charge on the Grande Guides is gone so this is more of an “ode” to them.   I love the easy-to-read style and the way they leveraged thought leaders to help lend credibility to the project.

grande guide ex

















Remember: Content is not for you, it’s for them.

Author note: A young marketer named John Hurley sends me these amazing works of art all the time.

Stay classy.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter