When it comes to marketing for your business, options abound.  There’s maintaining a strong, active, engaging presence on your social media channels.  You can SEO your (high-quality!) website.  Fire up your laptop, and write a book for your business to enhance your brand and develop instant credibility. You can publish a case study, and you can compose a white paper (or whitepaper).  Wait…case study?  White paper? What are they, and what’s the difference between them?  When it comes to case studies and white papers, they are both highly effective marketing tools, but they are distinctly different.

Case Study

When you create a case study, you will be showcasing the dynamic between your business and your customer or client.  This is a high-level overview which highlights how happy your customer is with your product or service, and how the relationship between you two has led to success for both parties.  You’ll want to make your case study brief; about 1-2 pages should suffice.  There’s no need to get into every technical detail or mention specifics of your daily interactions.  Your main focus is to convey how your customer thinks your product or service is great.  Think of a case study in terms of a word-of-mouth referral.  You’ll need to permission from your customer to publish the case study using the customer’s name or brand name.

Here’s an example of a case study on Budweiser:

Bud was looking to reach a younger demographic in Philadelphia, PA and convert them into customers and lifelong fans.  Bud’s advertising agency, Anomaly, partnered with digital marketing company gShift to promote the marketing campaign #PhillyHeavy on Instagram.  Nearly 20 local influencers shared Budweiser content with over 600,000 people, and Budweiser’s events were well attended by Philly crowds.  The results (engagement and attendance) were deemed as successful by both Budweiser and Anomaly, and gShift published this case study to highlight this success.

White Paper

If you think of a case study as a word-of-mouth referral, think of a white paper as a research paper. Rather than focus on an individual customer experience, a white paper showcases a problem, then highlights the facts and evidence to support a solution.  A white paper is nota sales pitch; rather, it will entice potential customers to buy a product or service based on how effectively the problem in question is solved by said product.  This quote from white paper expert Gordon Graham sums it up nicely:  “A white paper is like looking up through a telescope at a whole galaxy in space. You tell the story of how an entire industry has been suffering from a certain problem and propose a better way to solve it.”

White papers are typically long and detailed, at least but definitely not limited to five or six pages in length.  A typical white paper will be formatted to include a title page, table of contents, executive summary (optional), introduction, statement of the problem, hypothesis of the solution, research, evidence, and results of showing the implementation of the solution, and a conclusion.  Charts, diagrams, graphs, and illustrations are included convey the facts to the reader visually, and references are included in the text.

Here’s one page of a (staggering!) 181 page white paper on IoT (Internet of Things) from the International Electrotechnical Commission:

The flowchart at the top of the page shows a visual representation of the text below.

No matter which one you choose, make sure you keep your case studies and white papers up to date. You’ll want to make sure your white papers contain the most current technical information, which typically needs revision within 1 to 2 years, based on the industry.  Case studies can also lose their effectiveness over time, but they typically remain effective longer than white papers.  You’ll have at least two years before you need to revise, according to Trew Marketing. It is time-consuming and involved work to carefully research, obtain permissions, and craft a good case study, so make sure you dedicate the time and effort up-front to gain the most value for your work.

If you found yourself saying, “I definitelyneed a case study published on our website!” or, “Wow, a white paper would really help us tell potential customers just how well our service works in this industry,” then let us know.  Our writers have the skills to create case studies and white papers that are custom-crafted to your needs.  You give us the guidelines, and we’ll do the work.  Contact us today for a quote.