Originally published by MarketingProfs
I write whitepapers for a living. Thanks to my background in engineering, I typically handle high-tech content for complex products and services. But in working with clients I can tell you that even the most complex material can be fleshed out in simple ways to produce amazing whitepapers. Here are my top 10 ideas that I share with clients to harvest information so I can quickly write high-quality whitepapers that engage their target audience.
10 Easy Ways to Get Whitepaper Content
Shortcut #1: Blog it first
You’ve got ideas, but not a lot of time to write a full paper. Instead, outline the paper, then write a blog post for each chapter of the whitepaper. Bring the posts together and edit your way to a paper. For example, you may want to write a paper about 6 best practices. Write a blog post for each best practice, then you just need to add an intro and summary to turn it into a full whitepaper. As a bonus, the blog posts can link to the white paper as a call to action.
Shortcut #2: Interview a thought leader
Before your interview, create questions thinking about them as sections of a whitepaper. Then record the interview and turn the transcript into a whitepaper. For a meatier paper, interview 3-5 thought leaders on the same topic and include lots of pull quotes. You likely have lots of thought leaders internally, as partners and in the industry and they have many different areas of expertise so this is a never ending well of content. Tip: If this is a product marketer who never has enough time to write, just make them outline (here’s how).
Shortcut #3: Write a webinar
It can often be much easier to get a thought leader on a webinar or podcast than to be interviewed for a whitepaper. Take your highest performing webinars and/or podcasts and turn them into whitepapers. If it’s a webinar, you already have graphics from the slide deck and great content from the transcript. In fact, you can make this part of your content process to turn every webinar or podcast into a white paper.
Shortcut #4: Sit down with sales
Your sales reps or pre-sales specialists field lots of common questions from prospects. Buy them lunch and get the scoop on the most common questions and you’ll find you have a great early sales stage whitepaper.
Shortcut #5: Team up with product
Whether they are engineers, product managers or product marketers, chances are you have employees who talk to customers about product. While a lot of times they may be focused on what isn’t working, hopefully they’ve also heard their fair share about what is. Things like the favorite features in your product or instances where product saved the day. Capture these positive interactions and you’ll have a great paper on the top features/benefits of your product.
Shortcut #6: Poll your audience
No, I’m not talking about asking for whitepaper ideas. Instead, work with the product team to turn a list of product ideas from the roadmap into a way to educate and interact with customers. Create a simple poll for readers to rank ideas and link to it in your paper. This means you can create an interactive whitepaper that educates prospects and customers on existing features and discusses valuable additions. You can send the results to subscribers as a great follow up. It also gets product a prioritized roadmap. A total win-win-win!
Shortcut #7: Contact support
A great paper for the sales cycle can be found by digging into support content. Look for questions that were about process like, “How do I do this thing that will help my business?” and that have solid answers that show you can do that thing with your product today. You can turn that Q&A into a whitepaper that shows off all the cool and valuable things your product does. It is highly relatable for your prospects because the content comes from their peers.
Shortcut #8: Dig into implementation
Most considered purchases have an implementation team that works with customers to help understand and install your product. Find out what the most common questions and issues are at implementation and you can turn those into a great late sales stage asset to help prospects overcome their implementation fears.
Shortcut #9: Get serviced
If you’ve got a services component to your business, there is an abundant amount of great content waiting to be harvested. Look for services case studies, real-life examples of how your product was used to solve a problem, common issues that clients are facing, etc. Many services organizations create reports on their client engagements so you may be able to dig out what you need without trying to beg time from billable employees.
Shortcut #10: Attend a conference
Or better yet, send a super customer to a conference and ask them to cover it for you. They’ll be thrilled you paid their way and you’ll get more authentic, peer-written content. Have them write a blog post about each key session and then bring the posts together for a whitepaper. And of course, the blogs can promote the full paper.
Go to the Gig Economy to Help Produce These Whitepapers
If you implement even a few of these ideas, you’ll likely have more content than your internal resources can handle. That’s where the gig economy can help. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 43% of Americans will be gig employees by 2020. As more marketers join the freelance world, you’ll need to start embracing ways to utilize this important type of marketing employee. All of these ideas above are great projects to involve a contract writer. You’re delivering them all the content, they just need to use their mad skills to turn it into a whitepaper. And with the caliber of product marketing writers in the gig economy, you’ll get great results faster and for less money than using your internal product marketers.