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Many people are not clear on the differences between white papers and case studies.

But B2B copywriters and marketers must understand when to use each one.

After many years, I’ve come to the conclusion that white papers and case studies are the two most powerful, most convincing, and most cost-effective marketing materials that any B2B vendor can produce.

So what’s the difference?

This table sums up the key differences between a case study and a white paper.

Case StudyWhite Paper
FocusOne customer’s experienceNew solution to an old problem, or the benefits of a B2B product or service
MessageThis customer
loves our product
or service
Here’s how our B2B product or service can benefit you
Length1 or 2 pages5 to 12 pages
Production valuesSlicker:
color photos,
multiple columns
color graphics,
single column
Lifespan1 year,
then update
1 to 2 years,
then update
Cost$1,000 to $2,000$5,000 to $7,000
Time to do2 to 4 weeks4 to 8 weeks
EffortFaster and easier
(less research)
Slower and harder
(more research)
ApprovalsExternal and internalInternal only
When to useLater in sales cycleEarlier in sales cycle
Why to useTo nurture
To generate leads, nurture prospects,
win product comparisons
Offline analogyWord-of-mouth testimonialArticle in industry trade journal


The beauty of case studies…

I believe that case studies are the most cost-effective piece of marketing literature that any technology company can produce.

For $1,000 to $2,000, a B2B company can commission a beautifully designed, magazine-quality case study.
Like speaking face-to-face with a happy customer, this document will reassure any prospect working in a similar industry or facing a similar challenge.

That’s why I’ve written hundreds of B2B case studies: They get results.

The power of white papers…

White papers are the heavy guns of any marketing campaign.

For $5,000 to $7,000 a B2B company can commission a persuasive summary of the business and technical benefits of their product or service.

A good white paper helps a business person to understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.

This document will likely be passed up and down the food chain at your prospect’s company. And it will keep on working for a year or two, maybe longer.

That’s why I write a steady stream of white papers: They get results.

From a B2B marketer’s point of view, the key is to know the difference, and to use each type of document to support your sales team in the best possible way.

Why not use e-mail?

Sure, e-mail is cheaper than creating original content.  But you can’t keep using the same e-mail for one or two years, like a good white paper.

And you can’t recycle the contents of an e-mail in more than a dozen different ways, like a good case study.

Why not use social media?

Of course, Twitter is easier. But a Tweet is here and gone in an instant. And you can’t put up much of an argument into only 140 characters.

I recommend thinking of social media as “pointers” to content, or a place to promote actual content. They’re not really content in themselves.

And for B2B marketing, nothing works as well as case studies and white papers to drive results.

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