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10 Tips to Write the Perfect, Client-Attracting White Paper for Your Consulting Firm

You’ve decided to write a white paper because you’re a serious, deep-thinking, knowledgeable consultant. How do you make that effort yield eager clients lining up to work with your consulting firm?

You know you can attract clients to your consulting firm with well placed, pithy articles. A good book is worth its weight in speaking opportunities and, ultimately, clients. What about white papers?

White papers sit somewhere between articles and books. They’re in what could be called the Goldilocks zone… if the bears had eaten Goldilocks when they found her. In other words, the jury’s out on white papers as a marketing vehicle for consulting firms.

Superlative white papers require significant investments of time and resources to research, write, and design. They’re also harder to distribute than books and articles.

Don’t dismiss them out of hand, though. Some topics are too meaty for an article. I’ve seen numerous consulting firms attract clients with white papers, and one white paper I wrote when I first started Ascendant drew a steady trickle of inquiries for years.

Plus, some executives (and U.S. Presidents) don’t read books. 

How do you cook up a white paper that is gobbled up by your prospective consulting clients like a scrumptious appetizer, leaving them even hungrier for your services than they were before?

My initial list or tips contained 15 guidelines. I’ve cut the list down to nine and left a spot for you to contribute your wisdom.

10 Tips to Write the Perfect, Client-Attracting White Paper


  1. Michael Ryan
    October 25, 2017 at 6:27 am Reply

    Hi David,
    Thank you for the ten points. Clean, simple, and to the point. I’d say bonus chocolate for you today!

    One question… anything you can point your eager audience to as an example that hits the ten points above?

    Thank you David,

    • David A. Fields
      October 25, 2017 at 7:20 am Reply

      Very fair request, Mike, and thanks for the bonus chocolate. Rather than post one of my own whitepapers, I’ll shoot a note to some of my clients and see if I can post one of theirs. More to come…

      In the meantime, any additional tips you have for others who write white papers?

      • David A. Fields
        October 26, 2017 at 11:22 am Reply

        One of my clients graciously agreed to share their whitepaper as an example. The reasons I chose this example are:

        1. It worked–it generated a substantial number of projects for my client;
        2. It follows the rules above. (Given my druthers, I would have added a graphic or two).

          You can see the example by clicking here.

  2. Jonathan Verney
    October 25, 2017 at 8:03 am Reply

    Great tips, David.
    My two bits: to add meat and perspective to any white paper insert a few quotes from impartial subject matter experts. These can be Googled, but an even better way is to interview a couple and then sprinkle their pithy thoughts throughout the piece. Works like a charm, keeps the paper fresh, and helps prevent it from appearing too biased or one-sided.

    • David A. Fields
      October 25, 2017 at 8:10 am Reply

      That’s a fantastic tip, Jonathan. Citing outside experts or people who’ve lived through what you’re describing (i.e., case studies) adds heft to a white paper. Also, those interviews are a great way to meet new, prospective clients!

      Thanks for the excellent addition, Jonathan.

  3. Robert Friedman
    October 25, 2017 at 4:31 pm Reply

    My tips: Lots of white space. Put each major point on its own page. I think both points keep the reader focused.

    Definitely agree w/ you – longish is ok if extremely well organized, but boring is not.

    • David A. Fields
      October 25, 2017 at 4:35 pm Reply

      Two great tips, Robert. Readability is key and white space is invaluable to enhancing readability. I hadn’t thought of organizing one point per page, and that strikes me as a very useful approach to consider also. Thanks for contributing those ideas, Robert!

  4. Sunil
    October 27, 2017 at 12:56 am Reply

    Nice post, David, as usual.

    On ‘Making it pretty’, I think the single column format is better. While 2-column may look fancier and possibly easier to read in print, its a pain to read on a screen. (might be my personal preference).

    Separately, I found this external post ( to be useful for differentiating between whitepapers and blog posts. Also makes the whitepaper vs. ebook differentiation slightly clearer- always confused me!

    • David A. Fields
      October 27, 2017 at 6:54 am Reply

      Fair point on the on-screen vs. printed version of a white paper, Sunil. That’s definitely something to keep in mind as you write your white paper.

      While it doesn’t seem intuitive that someone would read a 10-20 page document on their phone, more and more people are consuming all content on small screens. We need to keep that in mind when we design our materials–including white papers.

      Thanks for the link, which basically just emphasizes two points in the article above: include the protein (this is data-based) and don’t advertise.

  5. Kim
    October 27, 2017 at 1:42 am Reply

    Thanks for sharing the example David. It has sparked some great ideas on a white paper relevant to my field of expertise.

    • David A. Fields
      October 27, 2017 at 6:55 am Reply

      Outstanding, Kim! When you finish your white paper, send a copy my way so I can see what you’ve developed.

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