White papers can be incredibly useful content for both educating your audience and generating leads. That is, when they are used properly. But often marketers have inflated expectations of the intended use of a white paper.
Many times marketers will simply publish a new white paper, do some quick social sharing or an email blast— and think their job ends there. But this approach lacks a defined strategy for producing and distributing the white paper, so the anticipated ROI on the content investment is never fully achieved. Here are steps you can take to ensure you’re getting the maximum value out of your premium content.
Choose The Right Topic
Choosing the right topic is critical to maximizing ROI on your content. Remember that first and foremost your content should be helpful and educational; not promotional. In other words, your white paper isn’t a long-form brochure. It needs to provide information prospects will find useful.
The content must offer insight that is relevant to a specific target buyer. Information that is too broadly focused will be relevant to no one. Focusing on topics being covered by trade media, industry analysts, and other experts helps ensure relevance. It also gives you an opportunity to solicit their quotes or comments on your topic – which can lend credibility to your thought leadership piece. It shows that other respected members of your industry are in agreement with your message.
Manage The White Paper Creation Process
Many marketers turn to analyst firms or external agencies for help creating a white paper, as they may not have the time or the required level of expertise to write it in-house. There are certain advantages to this approach, including: no drain on internal resources, easy access to subject matter expertise, positive brand association, and potentially broader distribution of the white paper. However, there are also some limitations.
Marketers that are disconnected from the content creation process may not have access to the researcher’s notes or other important pieces of information that didn’t actually make it into the white paper. These unused tidbits could have been utilized for creating derivative pieces of content like blog posts or articles. These derivatives could have then been distributed alongside your white paper launch, giving customers more opportunity to engage with your message. They can also be published more broadly, helping to amplify the message of the content and attract more traffic back to the white paper registration page. In this sense, marketers fail to get the maximum value out of their premium content investment.
Maximize Return On Investment
When using a third-party to create your core premium assets, you should keep a couple of key points in mind to ensure you’re getting the most from your investment:
- Have a content strategy and plan: Know how you’re going to promote your white paper prior to even creating it. Then create a plan for the derivative content you expect to generate to support the promotion strategy.
- Get more than just the white paper: Let no piece of information gathered in the research process go to waste. For example, you can record calls with analysts and get their permission to post the recording as a podcast. Or you can write an interesting blog post that’s informed by a conversation with a subject matter expert.
- Hold an event: Conducting a webinar or some other live event allows you to amplify the message and attract a broader audience. It also gives you opportunity to distribute additional derivative content to your audience, helping increase mind-share. For example, you can send them email invitations, relevant articles or compelling customer testimonials in the weeks leading up to the event.
- Turn to the specialists: If your message is geared to a more sophisticated audience, it’s best to use a partner that has specialized knowledge in your space. Choose a firm that won’t just write a white paper and move on. Instead, choose a marketing firm that will partner with you, helping you utilize all information gathered in the content creation process, giving you access to numerous derivative pieces of content that you can send out to prospects over time.
A Comprehensive Approach to Content
Premium content such as white papers can be an invaluable way to attract qualified leads. You’ll maximize your ROI if you remember these three keys:
- Keep your content focused on educating your audience, rather than trying to push your product.
- If you’re going to outsource premium content creation, be sure they can offer you a specialized level of industry knowledge to make sure the paper is valuable to your target audience
- Partner with a team that helps you create a strategic content plan that extends beyond merely production of a one-off piece of content.
For more information on developing an effective content plan on a budget, check out,:
To find out how NOT to produce a white paper, check out: