What I Wish Everyone Knew About Whitepapers by Sarah Malcolm

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Write a whitepaper, they said. It’ll generate a ton of traffic, they said. It’s a winning strategy, they said.

Newsflash: You can't write a white paper and expect a miracle of traffic. They’re not for every brand. And if you do choose to tackle a whitepaper, they still need content marketing best practices. Before you starting typing, consider:

#1. Should you really write that whitepaper?

Let’s start with the basic question: does your whitepaper have a real purpose? If your plan is to write a whitepaper because everyone else is doing it, please get off the bandwagon. However, if several clients have brought up the same concern or problem, perhaps there is a real need for this information.

#2. Whitepapers have needs.

To be successful, your whitepaper must have VIP: very invaluable points. Substance. New insights. Original research. Don’t keep spinning content in a whitepaper. Do some real legwork. Talk to real people, read published studies, and cite your sources. If your whitepaper doesn’t have original thought, interviews with leaders, case studies, or something else that can’t be found anywhere else, it’s not delivering real value to your audience.

Speaking of audience, this is another crucial need for your white paper. Define a specific audience. I’m not just talking “commercial real estate” here. Get deeper. Think: asset managers with portfolio ranging from 25-50 properties. Retail center owners. Property managers seeking a tech management solution.

#3. It’s not literally a whitepaper.

Your paper needs solid graphic design. Use visuals to guide the reader smartly through the text. Use charts, maps, call-outs, attractive photos or whatever it takes to smartly convey the information. Conversely, don’t go too crazy with the bar charts or color scheme. When in doubt, hire a professional to lay out the whitepaper.

#4. Stop boring us with your writing.

Okay, so you have a document rampant with research. Citations, experts, numbers, statistics, percentages. That doesn’t mean it needs to induce sleep. Demonstrate a command of the field without the drudgery of a chemistry textbook. Fit the white paper copy with your brand voice. And please, stop selling. The whitepaper is a soft sell by showcasing your industry expertise, not a gushing promotional tool for your services.

#5. Speaking of promotion…

Do not publish the whitepaper and expect results. You need a well-thought strategy for promoting the whitepaper. We’re talking social media promotion, email promotion, a landing page, and a follow-up funnel for those captured downloads.

In short, whitepapers take real leg work. They need purpose, great writing, smart design, and a marketing strategy of their own. If you’re not prepared to take on these tasks, a whitepaper may not be right for you. However, with the right team backing your white paper, you can create an evergreen marketing tool.


Need help with your social media strategy?

Contact Amanda@thecontentfunnel.com to learn more. We manage some of the BIGGEST brand’s social media in CRE and more importantly WE GET RESULTS. Can I get an AMEN!?

If you are interested in booking Sarah Malcolm as a speaker feel free to reach out directly at Sarah@thenewsfunnel.com.

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