White papers are detailed, sometimes highly researched, documents intended to offer a much fuller picture of the capabilities of a product or company. Unlike an advertisement or press release, white papers are normally not promotional (though certainly some are) but rather, through strong writing and hopefully good research, these documents attempt to establish a level of credibility for a company and its products or services. Since many white papers are grounded in research these often contain good information, especially in terms of results of customer surveys, sales trends, and industry forecasts.
Unfortunately, many companies place all but the title and a brief abstract of their white papers behind a login (often free but requiring registration) and use these registrations to capture sales leads. Besides the obvious downside of having to give out personal information in order to access white papers located behind a login, search engines often cannot find much detail beyond the title and abstract. Consequently, doing an Internet search containing metrics-related keywords (e.g., market share, return on investment, industry sales growth) may yield few results when in fact white papers do exist. The best solution is to use search queries describing general industry or product terms (e.g., white paper worldwide construction equipment) rather than using keywords referring to market statistics or specific market sectors or products (e.g., white paper market share tower cranes). The chances are much greater that a general keyword search for white papers will be successful since this information is more likely to appear in a white paper’s title and abstract which are accessible to search engines.