Which Title Is Best?

September 6th, 2005 by Bob Bly

I just wrote a book on using content as a marketing tool ? specifically, how to market your products and services by giving away white papers and other free information offers. The book will be published next month.

Which title do you think is best ? and why?

A. The White Paper Marketing Handbook
B. The Edu-Marketing Revolution


This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 6th, 2005 at 3:49 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

663 responses about “Which Title Is Best?”

  1. Steve Slaunwhite said:

    A. is the safe choice. It will appeal to those looking for this kind of information.
    B. is the daring choice. The title may capture the imagination of the target audience, making your book a bestseller. Or, it may not.

    For example: “A Stickler’s Guide to Punctuation” may have attracted a few gramatarians. But it was “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” that became an international publishing sensation.

    For example, “Making The Case for Better Punctuation” may have attracted a few gramatarians. But “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”, a book on the same topic, became an international publishing sensation.

  2. Steve Slaunwhite said:

    Obviously, ignore the last paragraph in my previous post.

  3. Joel Heffner said:

    Athough I don’t like the express White Paper, I do think it would be better because most people won’t know what edu-marketing is.


  4. Joel Heffner said:

    “express” should have said “expression” Sorry.

  5. Neil Sagebiel said:

    I like A for the sake of clarity, especially if there will be no subtitle.

    I really do like B though. The word “revolution” has selling power. If you have a clear, explanatory subtitle that pays off the title, this could be a winner.

  6. Mike Sigers said:

    A is the hands down winner. Not even close. We’ve got enogh buzz words to last a lifetime. What the heck is edu-marketing ? A also negatively qualifies all who read the title. If I’m looking to write some white papers, and I am, I know, without a doubt, that I want this book. Where can I get it ?

  7. Steve Slaunwhite said:

    Mike. What the heck is SPIN Selling? What the heck is Permission Marketing? What the heck is CHI Running? All familiar terms to us — now. But when those books came out, they were all unfamiliar buzz phrases.

  8. Mike Sigers said:

    Hi Steve. I have no idea what SPIN Selling is. Nor do I know anything about CHI Running. Is that like in Pamplona, with the bulls ? Kinda what it sounds like – bull.

    Permission is easy enough for me. It’s what mama gave me when I asked her if it was okay if I didn’t use words that made no sense.

    Glad I didn’t have to know any of these to sell over $32 million worth of products in the last 12 years.

    You feel free to use ’em, though. There will always be those that want to be baffled by bull, instead od simply selling. They go bankrupt every day.

    Like Clayton Makepeace says about the Rhodes Scholars and their marketing skills, “You’d have to study to be that dumb.”

    Glad there’s room enough for you and I both to make a living, doing it differently.


  9. Travis K. Kircher said:

    I kinda like Choice A. But I don’t know why…

    Choice B could also work…but if you’re gonna declare something to be a revolution, you better have the facts to back it up. Someone declared the South Beach Diet to be a revolution, but where is it now? Apparently it wasn’t a true revolution, bucause society wasn’t sufficiently impressed with the results to stick with it. Now everyone is looking for the next diet craze….or their McNuggets.

  10. Steve Slaunwhite said:

    Mike. I don’t think I deserved that. Did you (indirectly) call me dumb? Anyway, the reason I mentioned SPIN selling and CHI Running is that they are both enormously successful books in their respective categories. That doesn’t mean you should pick a jardon-ish title for a book. That’s risky. And as I said in Post #1, “The White Paper Marketing Handbook” is the safe choice.

  11. Mike Sigers said:

    Sorry, Steve if you took anything out of my post personally or feel that it inferred anything towards you. I’m assuming you’re alluding towards my quoting Clayton, which was meant to make light of those that might fall for some of the jargon-filled, buzz-heavy marketing. That’s why it referred to ” those that will… “, not you.

    Again, if you though this was for you, which it wasn’t, I apologize.

    I did mean to jab at jargon, buzzwords and such. They have a place, mostly, in one of the millions of paperbacks that sit unsold on bookshelves every day. They add nothing to a campaign, except what those that don’t know any better want to hear.

    I’m sure you are correct in picking the simple title over the silly title.

    Looking back at your post # 7, which commented on my post #6. You went after my post, brought my name into play and commented on a comment, rather than commenting on Bob’s original post, which both of us would be better off doing.

    Let’s both of us keep this professional and remember from now forward – Comments are for posts, not other comments.

    I’l stop now. Feel free to reply. It’s only fair to allow you to have the same number of comments as I took.

    Sorry, Bob, for my having sullied you post. I really do want a copy of the book, as we are in need of writing a few White Papers, which we will make available for download on our soon to be made live company blog.


  12. JSLogan said:

    I prefer A. Choice B gives me the impression the book is all theory with no practical use…like someone working to create a buzz word. I’m not interested in reading book B.

  13. Pamela Kock said:

    Anything that even hints of hype makes me skeptical, and B does that in spades. Be straightforward. Be search-engine friendly. Pick A.

  14. Justin Hitt said:

    How about, “Using Educational Marketing” with a subtitle, “Selling through white papers, reports, and studies designed to create educated buyers” …

    Other title/subtitle combinations:

    1. “Educational Marketing Strategies” / “How to use white papers, reports, and studies to make more sales”
    2. [Option A] / “How to market your products and services with free information offers”
    3. “Marketing With White Papers” / “Get more customers by giving away white papers and other free information”

    “Spin Selling,” “Permission Marketing,” and other related books all had some subtitle sharing the unique selling proposition of the book.

    1. Spin Selling / The best-validated sales methods available today developed from research studies of 35,000 sales calls used by top sales forces across the world.
    2. Permission Marketing / Turning strangers into friends and friends into customers
    3. The New Strategic Selling / The unique sales system proven successful by the world’s best companies revised and updated for the 21st century

    The titles didn’t stand alone as much as they just captured readers attention … perhaps in using familiar words like “selling” or “marketing.” But, even their Amazon.com description includes a subhead in the list description.

    One thing I’ve used to determine which title is best for reports is to use chapter excerpts or related materials in lead generation. This way I’ve captured names of those interested in the report topic, and have some idea of which themes work better.


    Justin Hitt
    Strategic Relations Consultant
    Build Strong Business Relationships

  15. Richard Leader said:

    I prefer the simplicity of A.
    However, I associate White Papers with a particular type of content – usually from the tech industries.

  16. Adam S. said:

    I’ve been wrong before, but what the hell: I say A. The term “handbook” connotes a canonical reference for a well-established topic or specialty category. E.g., the Copywriter’s Handbook. Presumably such titles appeal to practitioners in a field who are prequalified by their familiarity with the subject matter. I suspect that’s the target audience for this book: the group of technical marketers who use white papers to sell.

    The hypier titles, on the other hand, are more effective for drawing generalists who are interested in finding new techniques to solve old problems. If the book is intended to convince the world that most marketing departments have been neglecting the amazing selling power of white papers; that new trends mean we now must educate consumers rather than pitch to them; that changes in technology make educative selling more effective than it has been in the past; etc., then perhaps B would be more appropriate.

    A seems more likely, so I go with A.

  17. Stan Smith said:

    Between the two, I also vote for A. “Edu-marketing” is too obscure a term, and although it might become hot, it just as likely might not.

    Frankly I’m not crazy about “White Paper” either – that term often means a government report, and to my mind has a slightly musty, bureaucratic air to it. “Special Report” might be worth considering. It has more punch and may be more familiar to your readers.

    In any case, I still think A is preferable to B. And a hyphen for “The White-Paper Marketing Handbook” might fit in well.

  18. richard armstrong said:

    How about something like this … “THE ‘WHITE PAPER’ REVOLUTION: Maximize Your Marketing with Cheap and Easy ‘Content’ Premiums!”

  19. Steve Slaunwhite said:

    I like Richard’s suggestion. It sounds new and exciting, without losing the clarity of Choice A.

  20. Kevin Barefoot said:

    Yes, A is preferable to B but could certainly be refined as Richard suggested. How can we get a copy?

  21. Jorunn D. Newth said:

    I would be getting a copy of the handbook, but I don’t buy marketing revolutions 🙂

  22. Bob Bly said:

    If you want to get the White Paper Marketing Handbook, sign up for my free monthly e-zine at http://www.bly.com. I will announce publication of the book when it is available.

  23. Yvonne DiVita said:

    Neither. Sorry. Neither title does what you want it to do. I would ignore both– the first is too long, I had to read it twice and then I wrinkled my forehead wondering if maybe you were up too long when you wrote it; the second one doesn’t give me a clue what the content is…well, there is a clue, .edu means something to some people, but not to all…so, a trip back to the drawing board is in order, although I’m late to the discussion here. For all intents and purposes, your goal (I think…) is to help others develop and sell white papers? Most people don’t even know what white papers are, even people who write them. IMHO. For what it’s worth, I would understand, White Papers: A Marketing Handbook, or White Papers: A Marketing Guide (or Handbook).

  24. Bill said:

    I agree with “neither.” Both titles are obscure. Shouldn’t a title reveal, entice, and attract? These titles are just puzzling. The problem with “A” is that it’s so restrictive: how many potential buyers are there out there hot to learn about “white paper marketing?” Maybe a few, but it’s niche for sure! “B” is incomprehensible. I’d keep trying.

  25. Vikk said:

    Frankly, I’m not keen on either. If a customer came in and asked specifically for a book on white papers, then your book would pop up in the title search but the customer would have to know what he or she was looking for. I think B is confusing and doesn’t really tell me what your book is about. While I think Richard’s refinement is better, I wonder if there’s a better description of what the book is about. Something that captures the content but doesn’t use terminology that may be unfamiliar to those outside the industry.

    I work for Borders Books and I can’t even begin to tell you how people translate titles and book covers into questions when they come into the store to find a book. I always liked, “Do you have the book with the blue cover that I saw on Channel 2 yesterday?” That was always helpful. So I think it’s important to be as simple and clear as possible. But then I’m biased: I like titles that are easy to search and find.

  26. Tom O said:

    A says what it is more than B.

    I also like “How to Increase Your Sales using White Paper”
    If that’s too long “Increase Your Sales using White Paper” works for me too.

    This triggers a little bit of curiosity, and if you don’t know what white paper is you’ll read on. It also speaks to people that want to increase sales, which I assume is your target group.


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