So there you have it—a nicely-written, neatly-formatted, white paper. You learned how to choose a topic and create an outline in part one, how to research and write the content in part two, and how to dress it up with graphs, quotes, and images in part three. Now, it’s sitting there, all shiny, just begging to be read. Now it’s time to make it available and get the word out.
The first thought is to add it to the resources section of our company website. But, how about adding a small blurb and link on the relevant product page? Even so, the “post it and they will come” method doesn’t work very well. We need to do more. Assuming you have a company blog, write up a blog post. You could format in an executive summary style—but don’t give away the ending! Keep the reader intrigued enough to want to read more.
Now it’s time to use your social media channels. Push your blog post, or at least a link to your white paper, to your company’s Facebook page. Tweet about it. Talk about it in a YouTube video. Write about it in your company newsletter. These are the low-cost/no-cost ways to get the word out, but they only reach the community you’ve created. What about the larger community?
This is where online content aggregators come in. For a fee, they will host your white paper on their site, get the word out to their larger community, provide optimized search methods so that your paper will more likely be found, and collect leads from prospects that download. These aggregators used to be specific sites like Bitpipe and ITtoolbox. However, more industry content providers and online magazines are offering similar services. Be sure to check the pricing and reach for each one.
Here are some other ways to increase the value and usefulness of your white paper:
Online lead generation – One of the main reasons you may have chosen to write the paper in the first place is to collect leads. To reduce the risk that your prospects will choose not to download when needing to leave personal data, use a simple form to collect a minimal amount of information.
Sales meetings – White papers are great tools to leave behind after a sales demo or meeting. Research shows that most white papers get passed around and are read by more than one person. It’s a perfect way to keep your company and product top of mind.
Trade shows – Another great way to capture leads is by taking contact info in return for handing the prospect your white paper. These days, most attendees will let you scan their badge in return for “swag,” but when you have a more serious prospect, give them your white paper to take home.
Sales training – You’d be surprised what your sales team can learn by reading your white papers. They will gain a clearer understanding of the customer issues and the paper will help them articulate the solution and its value. Having been in IT and been pitched by sales folks, I’ve seen many who understand their product but have no clue how it would be used in the real world.
Repurposing – To get the most out of your white paper efforts, find ways to repurpose the content. Explore the issue in more depth in a blog post. Write more about the solution in a newsletter article. Submit a scaled-down version to your industry trade publications. Any time you can reuse content, you’ve just increased your ROI on that content significantly.
I hope you enjoyed the How to Bake a White Paper from Scratch series. It’s not easy to sum it up in just a few blog posts – just as it’s not easy to write a white paper! Many white paper ideas sit on the shelf waiting for someone who has the time to write them. If you have great ideas and no time, or want the benefit of a white paper and still don’t feel it’s something you can tackle, drop me a line. I’d be happy to help. In just a couple weeks, you can have your very own, shiny new white paper!