Column by Thomas Lapperre
I usually only give standard prices for a white paper on request. And often reluctantly. It soon creates the wrong expectations. Every white paper is a unique project and that makes a copy / paste approach so difficult. The ingredients differ per white paper, just like the target group and message. Writing a white paper looks a lot like the traditional baking of a loaf of bread.
Bread is usually a mass product. Still, my wife wants to give me a bread maker for some time, because it worked out so well with the smoker BBQ that I now use regularly. Freshly baked, own unique bread. Exactly what customers want for their white paper. After all, it is your vision, approach and knowledge put on paper. Thought leadership, and that is unique and fresh by definition.
Our daily bread
A white paper has a very specific purpose: to inform and trigger a specific target group to take a positive action towards the company. Going one step further in the customer journey is what it is called. It's about really informing. In our knowledge economy we have an insatiable hunger for knowledge: how do you become more efficient at work? How do I combine work with private life? What are our biggest challenges now? How do we fly that? Who can help us with this? What should we do? Every day we therefore take a strong bite out of emails, newsletters, white papers, podcasts, webinars, explanation videos, websites, blogs and surveys. The daily bread of a knowledge worker.
Prepared with care
As a white paper baker, I determine the ingredients together with the customer. A hefty scoop of internet research, a few investigations and a pinch of interviews. Determining the strength of each ingredient is essential. A lot of PDFs have to dig through to find 'something useful', which often has the opposite effect, for example. Just like giving a few keywords (keywords) as input, because the end customer wants a local, fresh and tasty sandwich. And that means relevant research (Dutch, recent or still current), new trends and applications. And of course all interesting, because the eye wants something too. Such as an explanation from a specialist to deepen the storyline, an image that complements the story and pleasant layout. All things that determine the experience of your white paper. And the most important tastemakers? Sweet and salt.
Baking sweet rolls
Above all, a white paper must address a customer about an existing problem or emerging need. So: How do I prevent bankruptcy as a retailer, just like Intertoys? Why is data so important for product innovation? How do I choose a CRM? These are real agenda items for companies. Then as a manager or director you also want to read something that really gives you insights. It sweet. No bullshit from a company that immediately calls: buy from us! You'd rather not eat it that salty. You know that you have to invest, but come on, it's not that far yet. Knowledge first. Of course you are curious about the company and what they do, but first let them show that they can bake sweet rolls.
The bakery around the corner knows what you like
Since the history of bread some 30,000 years ago, many different forms have arisen. Components, baking method and form therefore differ, just like the use or meaning of the bread. From Give us today our daily bread until bread and games if it peace, land and bread of the Bolsheviks in 1919. Culture determines the role that bread plays in a society. In the Netherlands, for example, we eat an average of 49 kilos of bread per person per year, almost one kilo per day. The traditional Dutch breakfast therefore mainly consists of a light bread meal. But the application of white papers differs per branch. An IT white paper is completely different than an e-book about sustainable living, for example. And in some industries, knowledge is consumed completely differently, where a bowl of muesli with yogurt works better again. Do you choose white papers? Then choose a white paper baker who understands what they like to eat in your industry. Then it all comes to the bakery.