When is a White Paper Not a White Paper? When It’s a Playbook

Playbook instead of a white paper

Marketing communication managers don’t need to call everything a white paper. In fact, they often do better to give that designation a rest.

From MarketingProfs comes this post about the YouTube Creator Playbook for planning, posting and maintaining video on the site.

Have a look at it to see what they mean by “playbook.” It’s a very clever hybrid of:

  • user guide
  • how-to
  • samples gallery
  • collection of blog posts

from a company that knows something about content marketing. For that matter, it looks as though they may have created it in their parent company’s own humble Google Docs Presentation app.

Most of us in marketing would probably have called it a white paper. Why?

  • It reveals a lot of technical detail.
  • It explains how users can get the most out of the product.
  • It describes the product in sufficient detail even for people who aren’t yet using it.
  • You put it down and think, “These guys are giving away a lot of useful information for free.”

Most important, it persuades without trying to persuade.

For homework tonight, forward this playbook to several of your co-workers in sales, executive management and PR. My hunch is that, within a few days, at least one of them will walk into your office and announce, “This was really good. We need a white paper just like this.”

Fine. Get a good marketing communications writer to create it for you. Use it in your next content marketing campaign.

Just don’t call it a white paper. You can be more creative than that.


Author: John White

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a content marketing writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Content Marketing Writer.”