I think a white paper is a great thing to have in your marketing toolkit. (If you’d like a quick introduction to what they are, try What is a white paper and why do I need one?)
If you search the web about how long a marketing white paper needs to be, you’ll find a whole range of answers. The generally accepted consensus is that 3,000 words is a good starting point but that anything upwards of that is OK too.
Personally, I think if you’re going much above 5,000 words you should ask yourself questions such as:
- are you going into too much depth?
- are you waffling and could a professional writer edit the text to make it much clearer and more concise?
- would the subject be better split into a series of white papers?
- does the depth you’re finding you need to go into mean you could / should be writing a (digital) book on the subject that you could either give away as an impressive freebie or sell?
If you’re struggling to get to 3,000 words, you should ask yourself questions such as:
- would this subject be better served in an ebook?
- would a professional writer provide a fresh pair of eyes and an outsider’s perspective to draw out information you may have overlooked but your target audience would find useful / essential?
In other words, you want to make sure your white paper is long enough to feel like it’s offering good value (i.e. if you’re using it as a lead magnet, will someone who gave their email address in exchange for a copy feel like it was a fair exchange). On the other hand, you don’t want to unexpectedly overwhelm people or risk having your hard work filed under ‘I’ll never be able to face reading all that.’
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