White papers and Winston Churchill share an important connection. One of today’s most effective marketing communications tools, the white paper owes its existence to a century-old request from British statesman Winston Churchill.
White papers and Winston Churchill explored options
In the early 1920s, while grappling with a tough policy issue related to the Middle East, Churchill asked his staff to develop a paper detailing the implications of his proposed course of action. That way, he could be sure he was making informed decisions.
That document and the many others that followed came to be known as white papers. In the decades that followed, policymakers adopted the term for lengthy reports that summarized issues and offered recommendations. Eventually, marketers recognized they could use white papers to educate and influence their target audiences.
White papers and Winston Churchill live on in business
Today, white papers do the same for businesspeople, policymakers, and other groups of individuals who have to make decisions that aren’t always easy. A white paper is a serious report that explores a complex issue to educate an audience. In a marketing or policymaking context, a white paper provides enough facts and arguments to convince people that your product, service, or strategy offers the best solution for the situation, educating them while helping them reach the decision you want.
White papers can be used to explain what it is that makes your solution better than competing alternatives. They can summarize key information about a particular issue or problem to help the reader develop a stronger understanding. They can also describe common problems your audience faces and offer a detailed explanation as to how your approach provides the best solution.