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  • Writer's pictureStacey Ebert

Messaging Mediums: White papers or Reports

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

While content creation is continuous, we don't yet know what things will look like on the other side of this pandemic. Create anyway. Use this time to put those ideas together in a clear, concise, and engaging way so when the world says "go" you can do exactly that.

We know there are heaps of messaging methods from which to choose. The question is how to decide which method is right for the distribution of what information, to what audience, and for your particular business. In this blog series we’re honing in on the various avenues of media communication. Which one works better for which bit of content, for which niche target market, and for which type of small business - you know, which offers the best return on investment for that particular moment in time. Join us as we jump into this one to decipher the positives and negatives of white papers and reports.

What’s the right type of content for your audience?

Each category of small business is its own animal and each version of that business has its own particular needs, wants, and reach. Once you delve into your business plan, fine tune your marketing needs, and figure out how to best capitalize on that target audience - the best type of content for each method of messaging becomes clear. For example, if your audience is more business minded, it might tend towards the nature of white papers. If your audience is made up of more tech savvy consumers, it may tend more towards the meticulous nature of researched reports. Both options work as powerful marketing mechanisms to build confidence in your company, expand your reach, and potentially organically grow your brand.

White papers

‘White papers are opinion pieces that offer technical insight to back up those opinions.’ Most often written from the perspective of your organization and designed to showcase your business as an industry leader, the best written papers focus on enlightening your target audience while providing pointed educational resources. Your expertly crafted message helps customers delve deeper into an issue while also fostering the generation of those precious marketing leads. Offering expert level research, your paper is designed to assist readers in problem solving. When it comes to white papers, there are typically two options:

Regardless of which type you choose, update these documents every couple of years and be sure to keep them under ten-thousand words.


The best written reports for business are far more research-based than white papers. While white papers are often written in-house, reports can be written by either your organization or an outside firm specializing in research. While designed to showcase your company in the best possible light, the true aim of reports is to share results and closely analyze the data presented. Reports often include easy to understand comparisons so readers can come to their own conclusions after taking in all of the investigative data. While reports are more often written for a technical-minded audience, they are also filled with formidable research supporting clear, concise conclusions.

Know your audience

Since each individual company has needs all its own, it’s up to that company to know their audience, put out targeted content, and figure out the best possible channels and methods for that messaging. In the competition between white papers and reports, consider the following: if your audience consists of business minded professionals consider going with the white papers that can showcase a potential problem and enlist the possible solutions; while if your audience consists of more technically focused folks seeking particular specifications backed by expert industry data - consider choosing reports as your delivery method.

In this time of physical distancing, quarantine, and isolation, we can continue to connect, support, and guide one another. While we don’t know when, there will come a day when the world opens up again, it’s safe to be closer than six feet apart, and people will head outside to see what’s out there. When that happens, your business will be ready for customers and your content ready for action. Catch you next time when we check out why a business would utilize the messaging powers of one pagers vs brochures. Stay safe, friends - you matter. See you soon.

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