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Tell to Sell: White Papers Boost Tech Product Sales

by Brian J. Dooley

Got a product that you're finding difficult to explain? Feel that potential customers simply don't grasp the significance of what you're offering? Does your product have special features that go beyond what can be hyped in a standard brochure? If any of these are true, then you probably need to consider developing a white paper for your technology or product type as an adjunct to your sales material.

White papers have become increasingly common as technologies grow in complexity. They explain the details of your product, where it fits in, and how it competes with similar products. They address the need for information beyond what a brochure would provide, supplying critical details for decision-makers needing to separate fact from fluff. They subtly deliver your message, rather than letting it get lost in the jungle of similar advertising. Sometimes, the best way to sell is to tell, and white papers give you an edge by providing information as a service as well as supporting the sale.

In fact, the white paper has become so important to the high tech area that analysts now estimate 80 percent of IT professionals use white papers when evaluating products and services, and 90 percent access white papers and case studies before even contacting vendors. White papers aren't just for high tech, though. They're an excellent sales aid for any technical product or service.

White papers can be created for a variety of purposes that might contribute to sales. They include:

There are other possibilities as well, depending upon the details of your product and the market in which it is being sold. Because they outline the technical details in depth, white papers make ideal sales aids, to distributed along with brochures at trade shows, in media kits and by mail—and provided as free information on the Web. Internally, they can also be used to train sales staff and provide information for use in developing a marketing strategy, or as the basis for presentations and features used to promote your product.

But creating a white paper can require a significant effort. If you lack experience, it is easy to create a paper that is dull, lacking in focus, fails to adequately explain or to persuade. A good white paper needs to explain complex material in a simple, readable manner. And that requires experience. Luckily, there is a solution. You can outsource the project to a technical information service.

An outsourced approach generally begins with determining the scope of your paper, and what it needs to accomplish. Information is then skilfully gathered from interviews with your executives and engineers, from internal company development notes and marketing materials, and from secondary research. The paper is then scoped, and an initial draft is developed for your approval. When the final draft is ready, it can be delivered in a format suitable for Web or print publication--or both. Or the whole publishing process can be handled by the service, with any level of graphics.

Remember, in the Information Age, information is king. And what better way to position yourself than to provide useful and detailed information about your product in a skilfully written form? Of course, if you outsource your white papers, you can gain added efficiency by letting the same service handle case histories and advertising features for your product. But that's a different story.

You can gain the necessary expertise from companies such as BJ Dooley Technical Information Services—located here in Canterbury, and providing years of experience in all forms of technical writing and documentation. We can assemble project teams of any size to meet your requirements and deadlines. You can reach us at or call 03 314-9920. We're just down the road from Christchurch, in Leithfield Beach. We can provide training, contractors, consultation or complete outsourcing. Visit our Web site at for complete information on our services.

Copyright 2002, Brian J. Dooley

Published in Update, the Official Newsletter of the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce, April, 2002

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