White Paper or E-Book: Which is Right for You?

The Content Marketing Institute interviewed marketers to determine the most preferred content marketing tactics. The #5 money making tactic is the e-book.

What Makes White Papers and E-Books  Similar?

Sometimes it’s hard to decide which one is best for your marketing purposes. Why? Well, both have a lot in common.

White papers and e-books are targeted to the audience you want to have buzzing around your website.

  • They help your target prospects solve a burning issue.
  • They don’t focus on a product or service, but softly lead your reader by the hand to a particular conclusion. (The one you want!)
  • You offer your white paper or e-book on your websites in a PDF file.
  • The purpose is to show your expertise rather than to engage in an old-fashioned chest thump–declaring that your company is great and they should believe you.
  • They build visibility, credibility and profitability.

So what makes them different?It’s about the tone and presentation.

What Makes White Papers and E-Books Different?

The white paper is the business person in the corner office wearing a pin-striped suit. The e-book is wearing a sweater and jeans, chatting with you over a cup of coffee in Starbucks.

Also, others say that the e-book is more likely to be graphically pleasing and to have an attractive cover page. But I’ve seen some pretty spiffy looking white papers.

Finally, there are also some schools of thought that say an e-book is more likely to spread virally because the publisher is less likely to ask for contact information when you download the e-book.

Personally, I believe whether you request that contact information or not is up to you and your objectives. If you want to build a relationship with the people who download it, and have a plan, collect the first name and email addresses. If you want your content to cast a wide net, let people download your e-book/white paper with one click. They’re more likely to spread the news if your content is easy to download.

Bottom Line

So my bottom line is this. Don’t worry about whether it’s a white paper or an e-book. You need content that attracts your prospects. But make sure whatever you write does the following:

  • Engages your audience. Do they want a casual conversation in the coffee shop or a high-powered discussion in the executive conference room?
  • Includes graphics for easy reading. Don’t worry: “Are there too many graphics for a white paper?” “Are there too few graphics for an e-book?”Just think about whether the graphics help your reader scan quickly through the content.
  • Has a headline that spurs curiosity.
  • Includes content to help your target audience solve a problem.

Then promote it. Tweet about it. Post it on Facebook. Discuss it on LinkedIn. Blog about it. Let your email list know about it.

And finally, profit from it.

If you need help to write an e-book or white paper, call Carolyn Frith Marketing now at 610-340-0622 for your free 30-minute, no-obligation consultation or email cfrith@carolynfrith.com.


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