So you’ve decided your organization needs a white paper. They are one of the most powerful marketing tools available and when done well, they can generate quality leads, play an important role in the sales process and garner publicity for the publisher. However, even though they provide excellent information, many white papers fail to hit their mark. Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at the steps to creating a successful white papers. Hopefully, by the end of this series, you’ll have the information you need to create powerful, effective white papers.
Day 1: Define Your Objectives
One of the most important yet most overlooked steps in creating a white paper is to clearly define the goals and objectives of the project. Many potentially great white papers fail because the outcome of the campaign was never clearly established. The paper may provide valuable information and truly solve an industry problem but without a clearly defined objective at the outset, the white paper doesn’t work.
Before starting any white paper ask, “What do we want to accomplish with this white paper?”
Do you want to:
- Generate leads?
- Build a mailing list?
- Increase response rates on direct mail efforts?
- Close sales?
- Gain publicity?
- Establish thought leadership?
Whatever the desired outcome, clearly stating the objectives will drive the rest of the project. Everything from the opening title to distribution methods depends on these objectives. As the paper is produced, the objectives become an easy way to assess that the paper is headed in the right direction.
And while it may seem obvious, I am amazed at how many white papers obviously suffer from clearly defined goals or objectives. Key points are buried, the copy bores or upon finishing the paper, I am not compelled to take further action. All of which are symptoms of poorly defined objectives.