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Given this, the majority of white papers fall into one of these three main flavors: #1.

Backgrounders describe the technical features and benefits of a product or service #2.

White papers, on the other hand, are persuasive essays about a certain product, service, technology or methodology.

White papers appeal more to logic through irrefutable facts, iron-clad logic, impeccable statistics and quotes from industry opinion-makers.

For shorthand, I’ve used “offering” to represent any product, service, technology or methodology described in the white paper. Backgrounder: for prospects near the end of the buying cycle or to support a product launch for journalists, analysts and channel partners #2.

Numbered list: for anyone interested in a light and lively roundup of highlights about some issue or to spread FUD on competitors #3.

Back to top White papers and brochures are almost complete opposites.For a longer discussion, see my article “When is a white paper NOT a white paper.” Back to top White papers and blog posts are usually quite simple to tell apart.White papers are usually PDF downloads of 3,000 to 5,000 words.Brochures are sales documents intended to create interest and desire.Brochures push “emotional buttons” such as fear, greed, envy or vanity.

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