A quick glance through the most popular search terms that brought you and other readers to my site in the last day, last 30 days and even of all time, has made it clear that ‘papers’, ‘whitepapers’ and ‘white papers’ are clearly on your mind. A post I wrote “13 ways to Promote One Whitepaper” is a must-read and has been read at this point thousands of times. I hope it is helpful and you are taking away some value to apply at your own company. But perhaps I put the cart before the horse with this one because to promote a whitepaper would assume you have already created one. So let’s talk about the first part; how to get started with whitepapers.
Start with an idea
Everything starts with an idea even your whitepaper. I look at this a couple ways. First I look at what trends are appearing in the market. In a previous company, we were targeting e-commerce professionals who were challenged with building a shopping cart on their Facebook page. I conducted some research and found articles and blogs that talked slightly about the topic but nothing that was truly addressing it. This would be a great idea for content but I felt that we could do more here and create a guide or whitepaper that really consolidated all the information and provided e-commerce professionals with something they could use.
Can you solve or help with the problem?
Now just because I had identified a problem that was not being addressed and a clear audience to consume this whitepaper, didnt mean I necessarily had the ‘right’ to write about it. Who was the authority on the topic? Me? Certainly not. Could I find enough of and the right resources and information to pull it all together into a succinct paper? Yes, I could.
Draft the outline
Everyone’s outline will be different based upon your topic and audience and the overall goal or takeaway you want your audience to have. But you must start with a summary of why the paper exists and why the person should read it. Next, outline the layout of your paper. In this example, my outline looked like this:
- Why Facebook cannot be ignored by e-commerce professionals – data
- What are the solutions that currently exist? How can a retailer get started today?
- What do consumers want? Is any method working to convert Facebook users into paying consumers?
- What does the future look like? What should be available that currently is not?
- Case study of how our product solved this problem
Start writing or hire a copywriter
For this particular guide, I combined a copywriter’s skills with internal resources. I knew I did not have the time to do all the research involved to write the paper but I also knew that we had to add our side to validate certain points (especially our predictions for the future). It’s up to you how you want to approach it but you can hire some great writers for very cheap money.
Edit and lay it out
Once we had the paper back from the copywriter, we edited it so it sounded like it came from our company. We then added more verbiage based on our experiences and point of view. As a final step, we worked with internal designers to lay out the paper in a fun, easy to digest manner. Keeping in mind our target audience of e-commerce professionals, we knew the design was an important consideration and we could have a bit of fun with it (may be different if you are targeting bankers for example).
Now go promote your whitepaper! See link in first paragraph for some ideas