What Is a White Paper?

Originally, the term white paper referred to an official government report, but has taken on broader meaning as the approach has been adopted by non-governmental organizations.  A white paper is typically used to present and argue a specific position or to propose a solution to a problem. They have become popular marketing tools for organizations, particularly with the growth of the Internet.  Organizations use white papers to sell their products or solutions that address customer needs.  The hope is that the presentation of their solution will positively influence the decision-making of potential customers.
The audience for a white paper for most organizations is potential buyers of their products that seek solutions to their problems or needs. For a white paper to be effective it must clearly address the potential customers need(s) and offer a solution to their problems.