Do white papers do anything more than just make subordinates work unnecessarily?
Has a client ever said “Thanks for the white paper, now I want to give you work we had never considered giving your firm?

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It depends on the subject area. I’ve written a few that have gotten tons of traction with clients and led to work. The useless ones are the high level ones that just say, “robotics will reduce the amount of manual effort your team expends and let them focus on more value add activities”. 😀 There’s a million white papers saying that same sentence with different words.

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Some examples will be helpful for tons of traction

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We’ve built a very large practice off of a 2015 white paper. Publishing it may have given credence to the pitch for the first sell - I don’t know, I wasn’t there. But I still distribute it to new As and Cs joining my cases because it has stood the test of time and nicely explains the concepts we’re going to put into practice. It is the conceptual cornerstone of a lot of work.

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Honestly no I don’t really want to be that specific here. You’re welcome to read through 2015 Harvard Business Reviews and guess :).

I think the important point, similar to one made elsewhere here, is that if it’s an article with a truly new and thoughtful insight or approach, it can be very valuable. But I’m sure we’ve all seen the articles that say nothing new and are really just creating something to post on LinkedIn.

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Every big 4 white paper says the same exact thing as their peers. Nothing ever published is truly groundbreaking...these articles are just so someone can say they are published and check a box on performance reviews. If it was really intellectual capital, the firms wouldn't publish for free...prove me wrong

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Great white papers lead to publication which leads to a solution offering which leads to a webcast/webinar which leads to speaking engagements which leads to a conversation which leads to a SOW.

Short blogs or articles with no differentiating message typically lead to nowhere.

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White papers from the right company can give a conversation credibility which may make a client more comfortable taking a topic to their peers or leaders. They can also create a compelling reason to have a meeting with a client on a specific topic that serves as an opportunity to sell under the guise of ‘sharing a recently published POV’.

10% of them are impactful, the rest is basically „cost of doing business“.

OP - nobody ever said “what a nice website” or “what a nice business card” and “here is some work based on that”. Still you need these, unless you find a proposition for your clients why you break the norms.

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It depends. If you can keep them within the team yes. The minute other PPMDs, risk, and marketing get done with them, they end up bland and worthless.

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How about you learning to research, organize, and communicate complex topics at the forefront of your industry?

How about getting yourself professionally published and building your own brand?

Stop the weak arguments. Its not attractive.

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My question was about white papers actually creating work. Others have provided some examples, which I’m glad to hear.

Your response is exactly what makes me roll my eyes. There are more efficient and effective ways to sell business.

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M2 - well said. Simply put, they lead to another excuse to talk to clients. They are important to have on anything “new” in your industry in order to have some type of credibility. Good development opportunity for staff that do research or help draft.

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A recent article has created an extraordinary amount of client interest.

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To answer your question, yes white papers can add value. My team and I wrote two white papers that led to winning additional work. And I echo what has been said above in favor of white papers.

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Sold 3 projects and gotten at least a dozen inbound leads from a paper in Apr about COVID cost management strategies for CFOs. Though I will say that 20+ years in biz, no other white paper has delivered so much short term sales impact. Usually it's just a PR tool.

No metrics, no value. That said, we run a few regular ones that are data rich - those are important to our business.

What about making it something useful to YOU: pick a topic you like and know something about, write down your thoughts, share it on LinkedIn, and ask for others’ perspectives. The trick is to enjoy it. It will help grow your thought leadership muscle and develop your brand at the same time

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