A white paper is a report or guide that often addresses problems and how to solve them. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions. They are used in politics and in businesses.
In politics and administration, white papers denote different meanings in different places. They can be government policy, command policy or anything representing government law.
In 1990s white paper become popular in business too.
In business, white paper is used more as a marketing tool than policy or command.
Thus a white paper from a company might be discussing the benefit of particular product with an aim to increase the sales of that product.
Pharmaceutical industries publish a lot of product monograms which they present to physicians for information. These product monogams typically endorse the product of the company.
A commercial white paper also works on the same line.
Commercial white papers are almost always marketing communications documents and are designed to promote a specific company’s solutions or products as it relates to the issue or topic examined.
As in case of pharmaceutical products, commercial white papers would always highlight information favorable to the company authoring or sponsoring the paper, while minimizing any negative aspects related to the company’s involvement with the issue, product or technology.
It is interesting to note that the commercial white paper is the most common type of white paper today. (Governments are not working as much as businesspersons are).
A commericial white paper is written with following intent-
- Generate sales leads
- Establish thought leadership
- Make a business case
- Educate customers.
It must be highlighted that this kind of use of white paper is quite different from the original use of white papers, though generally valued by sponsoring company.
Typical content for a white paper includes:
- Market drivers
- Problem development
- Historical overviews
- A generic introduction to the solution
- What to look for in an ideal solution
White papers should be carefully crafted to avoid the perception of salesmanship. This can be easily accomplished by inserting key educational content that is relevant to the intended readers.
As business rule says it, white paper should focus on reader’s needs rather than product itself