Whitepapers and point of view papers are important marketing resources in the B2B space, especially in the technology sector. Their ability to generate leads and drive conversions depends on creating compelling content that informs the target audience, helps them resolve issues or come to an intelligent decision. As firms grow and mature, publishing whitepapers is a way of sharing their insights on strategic issues, and often represents the first step in the thought leadership journey.
But creating compelling whitepapers and point of views is not easy. Here are some tips that can help:
Zero in on the subject
You have been in business for a few years and have learnt a lot, and believe that this is the right time to share your experience and knowledge, and position your firm as a leader. You may have a multitude of ideas milling around in your head and may face problems in identifying the right subject to go with. Brainstorming with people who have worked with you on important projects is a sure way of clarifying your thoughts and coming up with the right topic. Another point to keep in mind is to ensure that you do not choose a much written about topic. Or if you do choose a topic that has been widely written about, do make sure that you give a fresh perspective.
Writing authoritatively on any topic typically requires in depth research. While Google is an excellent source for every subject under the sun, it is sometimes difficult to find the right information needed for a specific purpose. In such situations, talking to domain experts can help, and these experts can often point you to the right website or resources. Before embarking on secondary research, which is time consuming with, at times,nothing substantial to show for the effort, it would be smart to gather the information that already exists within the company. This could take the form of presentations following successful project execution or client documents that set out the scope of work delivered or case studies that talk of solutions. Talking to the teams that were intimately involved in project execution helps as well.
The writing process
Once you have identified the topic and done your research, the next step is to get into the actual writing process.
- Define your objectives: Define the main objectives and the target audience to give a clear structure to the paper. A whitepaper generally educates, solves problems or helps the reader make an informed decision. From a marketing perspective, a whitepaper should stimulate action; it should strike a chord by touching on the pain points, and spur the reader to get in touch with you for a solution.
- Create an outline: Prepare a detailed outline of the paper – the outline should clearly set out all the main and sub headings in the paper as well as the key points that will be covered under each heading. This serves two purposes: one, it helps identify gaps in research and two, it sets a clear path for the content flow and prevents you from missing the key points you want to make.
- Introduction, body and conclusion: These are the three main sections in a paper. Set context by talking about the current trends and developments in the industry in the introduction section and ensure that you grab the attention of the reader. The content in the body of the paper depends on the objective- whether the paper seeks to educate or offer solutions for specific problems or drive decisions. This section should highlight your specific expertise and emphasize your capabilities in a neutral manner, without making it sound ‘salesy’. Finally, conclude with a short, crisp summary of the main points and end with something that will prompt readers to act.
- Review: Now, that the first draft of your paper is ready, review and rewrite to eliminate spelling and grammar errors, redundancies, and wordiness as well as punctuation errors. Ensure that the content is clear and concise with simple and short sentences. Compare it with the outline to check if you have covered all the points.
- Peer review: Request a peer or a colleague to review the article with a focus on locating errors and checking that the content flows smoothly without any abrupt transitions.
From the above, it is clear that creating compelling content is a time consuming, detail oriented process that requires a high degree of marketing expertise. You will therefore need to build and sustain a high-quality team with a senior executive at the helm to get results. Doing it right, however, will yield tangible results and help take your business to the next level.