In general, vendors publish white papers for two main reasons: either to gather leads, or to stake out a position as a leader in their market space. According to one study, vendors publish white papers for all the following reasons:
-Gather leads for the sales force
-Educate potential customers
-Influence a selection committee
-Educate the sales force or channel partners
-Educate the media
-Send to a trade publication or website
-Redefine a market space
-Build credibility or mind share
-Keep up with competitors that have white papers.
White papers abound in the technology sector, where they are commonly used to explain software and hardware products, but there's no reason why white papers can't be written about many other B-to-B offerings.
Any B-to-B vendor selling anything relatively new, relatively complex or relatively expensive could likely benefit from a white paper. This includes companies in sectors like these:
-Computer hardware and peripherals
-Medical, test, or communication equipment
-Technical or scientific services
This adds up to perhaps half a million potential vendors in the English-speaking world that could benefit from white papers. Vendors of any relatively familiar, simple and inexpensive B-to-C products don't often publish white papers, since there is little need for them. After all, most consumers don't want to read a http://www.id-ss.com/job-category/medical-communications/ paper before they buy something. There may be exceptions, especially in the health and medical fields, where consumers may have to make significant decisions.
On a strategic level, white papers fit into the widespread trend of "marketing with content." This model acknowledges that skeptical prospects are hungry for a vendor who will serve http://www.id-ss.com/job-category/medical-communications/ as a trusted advisor, not just a peddler of their wares, and a white paper can serve this purpose remarkably well.
The longer the sales cycle, the more likely white papers are part of it. White papers can fit into many different parts of the sales cycle from lead generation to acquisition, but are typically used early in the sales cycle, before the prospect makes a purchase. These can be called the "Vision" or "Planning" stages of the buying process, or the "Research" or "Selection" tasks.
After making a purchase, the buyer has little need for white papers. At this point, the white paper has already served its purpose; the sale has been made. Now the customer needs documentation, training and technical support.