A white paper is a wonderful marketing tool that’s perfect for any industry that doesn’t have a web savvy audience/client list. But they can be tricky. In my experience, people who write them tend to be in-the-box thinkers or experts in their field that know nothing about marketing. Unfortunately, their white paper also gets treated that way. Instead of treating your white paper like a document, treat it like a product. Try these tips on for size and let me know how it worked out for you and your company!
Social Media Buzz – PR rule number 1 is that you should always create a buzz starting with your own pool of contacts. If you have a white paper, use all social media outlets to plug your paper. Your best bet is to create customized Facebook landing page. Facebook Markup Language (FBML) is a free app that you attach to your fan page. You can post HTML code into it so that when someone goes to your FB page they get directed to an introduction and (the opportunity) to sign up for your white paper before they’re shuffling through your wall.
Syndication – You can also syndicate your white paper on hot syndication sites. Try out some of the following: Find White Papers, IndustryWeek, KnowledgeStorm, NetLine’s TradePub, RetailWire, TechTarget.
I also recommend checking out Michael Stelzner’s Writing White Papers. It was gifted to me a few years ago and I’ve used it several times while writing my own white papers. It’s a great easy-to-read guide that doesn’t treat its reader like an idiot – as is often the case with guide books.
Where to Distribute – Connect with media outlets, journalists and bloggers/blogs that cover your white paper topic. Offer it to them as a source and introduce yourself and your business. Even if they don’t use your paper, they know a good white paper takes serious know how and experience; they will either use your paper down the road by sharing it with others or quoting you, or at the very least you’ll have opened the door to developing a positive relationship with a valuable contact.
Tweak Your Message – If your white paper can answer a few questions or address different audiences, then share your document with different industries and pools of people. Be sure to include a detailed cover letter introducing the problem and how your paper offers a niche solution.
Set It Apart – Your white paper should have a prominent place on your web page. Ideally it should have its own call to action/marketing landing page that readers can arrive upon when clicking on the link. From there your white paper should be embedded as a downloadable PDF. You should also have your tech guy require users to submit their email, website, name and phone number so you can track your new audience, follow up with them and add them to your mailing list (upon approval of course).
Be the Expert You Claim You Are – Marketing your white paper sometimes takes that extra step. Despite your best efforts, you may have to go the extra mile and offer publications your expert opinion with byline articles. Byline articles let you share your experience and use the publication to reach a new audience that you may otherwise have never reached. It’s a valuable and under utilized marketing tool.
Never underestimate a good white paper. Some companies have easily reaped tens to hundreds of thousand of dollars from clients who sourced them through their white paper.