How to Write a White Paper That Wins Consulting Projects, with Gordon Graham: Podcast #4

Set yourself apart in the consulting business by highlighting your specialty through customer stories and white papers.


There are few people that can consider themselves as great an expert on white papers as Gordon Graham. Gordon is a white paper writer and consultant who has has worked with Google, Oracle, Intuit, and many other Fortune 500 companies. He’s interviewed over 200 C-level executives and written over 170 white papers. He considers himself a B-to-B copywriter. His career path took him from software company technical writing and journalism to a marketing executive in a software company before becoming an independent copywriter who specializes in white papers and case studies. Gordon has spent the last 20 years dominating his field as the expert of white papers. In this episode, Gordon and I discuss the value of white papers as content-filled marketing tools that you can use to set yourself apart as the expert consultant companies want to hire.

How can you make customer success stories work for you?

The countless hours of work that you have put into developing your consulting business has undoubtedly come with powerful success stories that you want to share. These stories build confidence with potential clients and provide insight into the work that you do best. There are a variety of ways to share these stories, from blog posts to audio testimonials, articles on your website or presentations at a conference. You’ll be inspired as you hear the list of ways that you can make customer stories work for you.

Why do white papers work so well?

In today’s industry, up to 96% of customers serve themselves by Googling and then contacting businesses themselves. Customers can make their own decisions about which consultant will work best for them, and white papers can help make their choice an easy one. Gordon recognizes that although you might want to focus your efforts on tweaking your website and all the branding, logos, company name and graphics that go with it, the number one thing that your clients care about is how you can solve their problems. White papers that are filled with marketing content provide clear illustrations of ways that that you can begin to solve your client’s problems.

One common misconception is that videos are capable of producing the same kind of results as a well thought out and prepared white paper. However, videos are incredibly expensive to produce, and they do not have the lasting value or shelf life as white papers. A white paper is a simple product that sums up a your best thinking — it can be your best shot at outshining your competitors. You won’t want to miss the stories Gordon shares that illustrate the power of a well-written white paper.

Regardless of your company size, a white paper will work for you.

Whether you work independently or are building a power team, you can use white papers as an incredibly effective tool to set yourself apart from other consultants. You’ll be able to gain attention and earn trust of the kinds of clients that you want to work with. White papers can help level the playing field between you and a bigger competitor. Listen for Gordon’s take on the single most important “trust factor,” and how to secure that trust with potential clients.

What should you consider when creating a white paper?

The first thing you need to do is put yourself in the shoes of your prospective clients. Forget about your company and your problems, and figure out how to help your clients solve their problems. Next, listen to and consider the two dimensions of specialization that have increased Gordon’s business dramatically. Case studies and numbered lists are two of the powerful tools that white papers must contain. You can hear the rest of Gordon’s tips for successfully leveraging this powerful marketing tool on this episode of Consulting Success with Gordon Graham.

Key Takeaways:

[1:20] Gordon outlines the career path that led him to the top of his field.
[4:30] Customer stories are incredibly powerful — Gordon shares a variety of ways to use them.
[6:53] A look inside the $25,000 booklet that led to multimillion dollar sales.
[10:38] Why do white papers work so well?
[13:30] How can you use social media to increase your business?
[14:35] Gordon compares white papers to business videos — and the winner is clear.
[18:24] How can a white paper work to create the most value for consultants?
[23:20] Sharing useful and relevant information builds trust with potential clients.
[26:05] Gordon’s top tip for standing out in your niche.
[27:52] Can a clear specialization generate more business for you?
[32:52] Horizontal vs. vertical dimensions of specialization.
[36:37] Gordon’s top tips for creating a valuable white paper.
Mentioned in This Episode:

Gordon Graham
White Paper For Dummies, by Gordon Graham


“Customer stories are so powerful because you can re-purpose them in 25 different ways.” — Gordon Graham

“Nothing else will work for as long and generate the kind of results as consistently as a well-done white paper.” — Gordon Graham

“Consultants can use white papers to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.” — Michael Zipursky

“Everyone wants to stand out in the crowd, but no one wants to do anything different.” — Michael Zipursky


Develop a predictable
pipeline of clients.

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  • Audrey Roberts

    An eye-opener! I’ve produced white papers or policy briefs for senior public sector clients as a means of strengthening evidence-based decision-making, knowledge of a given issue. This is usually while under contract and delivering the service. Never thought of it as a marketing tool and never delivered to private sector clients. Will change that!

  • Luis Fer TW

    Great! Practical advices with real examples on how to take advantage from writing white papers. Thanks!

  • Michael – thanks for having Gordon on your podcast to share his insights and expertise. Such a great resource and will be employing some of these methods going forward.