I combine deep technical and marketing backgrounds with outstanding writing and communications skills to write white papers that are engaging, illuminating and compelling. They strongly position – or preposition – your company and offerings in the minds of your prospects and customers.
Focusing on communications and other advanced technology-driven fields, I draw upon specific experience in telecom, networking (including SDN), cybersecurity, “cloud” services, data centers, communications, space systems and RF/satellite. My technical and systems background lends itself to address other fields with a basis in the physical sciences such as remote sensing and power and energy.
White Papers and Their Benefits
I’ve developed a good understanding of the nature and mission of white papers from having written, read and harnessed so many of them. In their subtle blend of tutorial and promotional aspects, white papers may be the most sophisticated type of marketing “collateral” that your department can put forth. A white paper carries an implicit bargain with the reader, roughly: “I will teach you things – and you will be glad you invested your time.” Therefore, the white paper must be engaging and compelling – and the reader must recognize this within less than 2 minutes or they’ll just skim it, or worse, cast it aside. I wish that many marketing departments’ product rollout plans calling for “a white paper” would instead call for “a good and effective white paper.”
Today nearly all evaluators try to educate themselves before contacting any potential suppliers. Therefore, one of the key goals of the white paper is to inform and influence these evaluators at this critical time. The white paper must clearly explain the nature, rationale and benefits of your approach. In doing so, it will foster a tendency toward your approach and terminology. This is particularly important if a buyer places de facto limitations on the number of potential suppliers evaluated, which in practice is almost always the case.
A great thing about white papers is their potential to level the competitive playing field. In the realm of buyer perception, an outstanding white paper or set of papers can put your company on an equal footing with any competitor. Therefore, they’re a great vehicle by which market challengers can distinguish themselves. By the same token, they are absolutely necessary for and expected of market leaders.
Portions of a white paper, especially the graphics developed for them, can be used in other marketing collaterals and other situations, including in your videos. Therefore their utility is quite broad. Despite almost always being available on your website, white papers are an excellent collateral for a sales person to deliver to the customer. Presenting and introducing them gives an additional reason for a meeting, particularly if the customer is well disposed to your papers.
The same goals and principals apply when a paper’s target audience is not the technical evaluator or influencer. In all cases, readers must feel that their time invested was well spent.
Choosing an Author for Your White Paper
If you are considering an outsider to write a white paper, then you have probably already reached the conclusion that the creation of a good white paper in high-tech calls for a skill set so specialized that you either can’t find it in house, or no one can devote the requisite time and attention to it. I’ve been there. I ran marketing organizations in technology and found that very few people, even excellent marketing professionals by any measure, could write good white papers. Although I could, I usually didn’t have the time. Unfortunately, I found it extremely difficult to find someone with the requisite levels of technical and market knowledge – and outstanding writing ability! In fact, it was during those times that I decided that when I reached a certain age, that I would become the person I was often looking for…
A writer with a strong technology marketing background can contribute to the insights of your marketing department. For example, recognizing and naming/trademarking an under-highlighted product feature can be something that falls out of the discussions and positions. Incidentally, doing so is a good way your terminology and approach to be accepted as the baseline for evaluation.
In addition, because graphics are often critical to an explanation, your white paper author must have an excellent grasp of how graphics can effectively convey concepts. Your author must have a very good conception of the graphic and can deliver or guide its realization. I’ve been formally trained on the creation and use of graphics. You can note my use of graphics in the cybersecurity tutorial series on this site.
Feel free to email me or call me at 202 640 3920 to discuss your needs.
Answers to Common Questions about White Paper Development
Q: What’s your process?
I spend time talking with a range of product/service subject matter experts. This almost always includes people from marketing and technical teams. I find that because sales personnel (mostly sales people and sales engineers) “live” in the market, they can provide unique perspectives. I ask the marketing team to nominate sales candidates. Taking direction from the marketing team, I will also review competitors’ papers.
Processing the above inputs, I present an outline of the paper for approval, often including rough ideas of the supporting graphics including tables. Proceeding, I present an advanced draft with some figures in a more complete state as needed; and afterward delivering the final version including completed figures if I’m handling them.
Q: Do you handle graphics?
I conceive original graphics (figures and tables) and prepare a draft of them that a technical graphics specialist can finalize under my guidance. I can produce finals of some simpler figures. Tables usually don’t need graphics support. Logistically, it’s a little easier if your own graphics specialist handles the graphics. Particularly if you are not directly charged for such support, you may find it less costly to use your in-house graphics specialist.
Q: How much does a white paper cost?
The honest answer is that it depends on a number of factors including length, complexity, number and complexity of graphics, and overall starting position. In my experience, people significantly underestimate the time and effort to produce a white paper and the graphics. All that said, most papers fall in the range of $3,500 to $9,500 and are a bargain in light of their importance and reuse. The average “unit cost” for a paper in a series of them will be less than that for a single paper.
Q: Is video replacing white papers?
Just as online lectures are a supplement to texts (online or otherwise) and not a replacement, videos and white papers happily coexist. Following the analogy, the thought processes and organization of the white paper serves as guidance for the video and its script. Should you do both? – Yes.
Q: How do I contact you?
That’s an easy one, email or call me at 202 640 3932.