By Jonathan Kranz
After weeks of meetings, interviews, research, writing and editing, your white paper is done. Congratulations! Now your real work begins.
Because the white paper baby you love will be awfully lonely—unread and unseen—unless you make active efforts to unleash it upon the world. Here are some things to consider:
Generate leads or go viral?
You have to choose your overall strategy from the start. Is this a sales-based effort to gather qualified leads? Or is it a marketing effort intended to establish your authority, expertise and presence? In sum, are you pushing or pulling?
The two strategies take very different paths. If you’re going for the leads, you’ll develop a campaign that may involve email blasts, direct mail, telemarketing and even (gasp!) print advertising. Certainly you’ll gate the content by requiring registration (i.e., getting names and email addresses) in exchange for the paper.
If you want to go viral, gating is the last thing you’ll want to do as it dramatically reduces the number of downloads. Indeed, your whole promotional approach will look entirely different, emphasizing relationship or PR efforts such as outreach via social and traditional media.
“Sell” the paper—and nothing else
Whichever path you choose, one thing will remain consistent: in your messaging, you’ll focus on the value of the white paper’s content. What will readers get by downloading or requesting the document? How will they benefit from what they read? You’ll lose leads and credibility if you diffuse your message by talking about your company, brand, products or services.
Rally your allies
No matter how large or powerful your organization is, you cannot succeed alone. You need a network of allies who will eagerly spread the word about your paper, tweet by tweet, email by email, blog post by blog post.
Building this network imposes another set of responsibilities on your part. First there’s research: who’s talking about the issues you address in your white paper? Which blogs, LinkedIn Groups, online forums, social communities, periodicals and so forth are speaking to your intended audience?
Once you’ve identified the right venues, however, you can’t simply crash the party by waving the white paper in your hand and yelling, “Come and get it!” (You’ve probably seen this many times on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, for example. Are you impressed—in a good way?) No, you’ll have to build relationships first by demonstrating good citizenship: reading other people’s blogs and articles, leaving relevant comments, and being generous with retweets and blog mentions (”Hey, check out what Jane Blogger has to say about…”) of your own.
Create more spokes on the wheel
Instead of thinking of your white paper as a stand-alone effort, make it the hub of a wheel of activity centered on the paper’s issues. Depending on your talents, resources and inclinations, these additional tactics may include articles, videos, podcasts, webinars, a series of blog posts, live speaking appearances and more.
Be prepared with talking points and examples
If your promotional efforts succeed (I’m optimistic and believe that they will), you’ll be approached for interviews via a number of channels: email exchanges, guest blog posts, recorded webcasts or telecasts. While some elements of any interview are unpredictable, there are two things you can certainly anticipate: a request for two or three major “take-aways” or important messages from your paper, and real-life examples of your ideas in action. Be sure you’re ready to share both.
Plan next steps
What comes after your white paper? What do you want readers to do as a consequence of reading it? How will you leverage your paper’s success and sustain the attention you’ve gained? The answers depend on the nature of your business, your audience and the issues you’re addressing, but may include: offering a series of additional white papers that explore your topic in further depth; encouraging participation in dedicated blogs, fan pages or online communities focused on your paper’s issues; inviting prospects to virtual and live events; perhaps even publishing an honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned, dead-tree, paper-and-ink book. Your options may vary—the point is to look out for them.
About the Author: Jonathan Kranz is the principal of Kranz Communications and the author of Writing Copy for Dummies. You may download his latest ebook (for free and without registration): The eBook eBook: How to Turn Your Expertise Into Magnetic Marketing Material.