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Is there still a place for whitepapers?

Whitepapers are like the guy in the office who’s been around for so long nobody can remember hiring him. In terms of benefit to marketing, just like email, whitepapers have been hailed as dead or obsolete more times than we care to remember. Yet they’re still around… So we’re asking “Is there still a place for whitepapers?” – as a webcasting company, our answer might surprise you!

Is there still a place for whitepapers?

Other content types have come and gone like the flashy but underwhelming sales guys, nice but flaky marketers, competent but uninspiring leaders. Others, like infographics, have been added to the permanent but rarely used content options. To be used when you need a flash-in-the-pan, short attention span type of exposure.

But if you consider the effort it takes to create various types of standalone content, it begs the question whether they (or you) are achieving the right thing. As marketers, we have to get the most bang for our buck in order to reach an audience that is distracted at best, disengaged at worst. How can we do that? By being persistent. Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, incidentally on stage together on August 24th 2016 at a Trump Rally (what the…?) are both great examples of being visible to the public consistently. Granted, that’s probably the only time they’re great examples, but the point is that we have to be visible in as many places to as many members of our target audience as possible. If you don’t do it, your competitors will.

So let’s look up the supply chain of marketing content and consider what is the equivalent of the warehouse? What is it that can supply us – persistently – with output, without having to reinvent the wheel all the time? You guessed it: Whitepapers! Why? Have you ever considered what content and output just one whitepaper can provide you with?

Here’s our list (if you have other tips, why not leave them in the comments section):

  • A blog post about the whitepaper content (or perhaps a mini series?)
  • At least one teaser video about the whitepaper content – if not more (did you know that YouTube is one of the world’s most used search engines?)
  • A load of social media updates with content snippets, facts, stats and poll results. Five updates across an average of three social platforms = 15 social updates)
  • An infographic – that’s right: whitepaper first, then infographic. Much more efficient that way!
  • A webinar – present the whitepaper content as an interactive and much more engaging webinar. Also gets you a whole load more marketing data about your target audience. Not sure how? Ask us.
  • A slide deck from the webinar – share your slide deck on Slideshare.net (which, btw, belongs to LinkedIn) for wider target market reach
  • A two-minute teaser video for the webinar – see what we’re doing here? Repurposing the repurposed content!
  • A two-minute digest video after the webinar
  • A post-webinar blog post with answers to questions asked during the webinar’s Q&A session
  • Updated website content with info from the whitepaper
  • A one-pager of the whitepaper content for sales to share with prospects during sales conversations

So instead of having only one whitepaper – once hailed as dead – you also have at least 10 other pieces of content and 10-15 social media updates. That’s how you start to get penetration into your marketplace – at least of you do this persistently. So, be more like Donald Trump (actually, on second thought please don’t).

How do you get started with this way of multiplying marketing content? Here are some tips to get you going:
  1. Know your target audience and their needs (but we’ll assume you know that already)
  2. Identify whitepaper topics that fit into your campaign plan. If you don’t have a campaign plan, perhaps the whitepaper topics can help you create one. Either way, you should have one.
  3. Create a spreadsheet showing a Gantt Chart for each piece of content you’re creating and the associated timeline for creation and promotion
  4. Identify promotional channels (email, social etc)
  5. Identify internal resources (campaign managers, content writers, designers, social media managers, subject matter experts etc) to get buy-in and help create and execute this plan
  6. Identify the right webinar platform for your organization (we know a good place to start…ahem)
  7. Get started – sounds simple enough, but don’t get bogged down in planning

One important thing to remember is that every output you pro

duce should include a ‘call to action’ (CTA) and lead on to a way of measuring engagement. That means it should be tied to your marketing automation and CRM tools. If you’re providing ungated content (e.g. blog posts) make sure it cross-promotes to something your target audience has to register for. That way you can begin to track user journeys and ultimately attribute revenue to marketing. In that sense, webinars are much better than whitepapers or other pieces of content as they offer more engagement and analytics out of the box.

Who’d have thought it… All of that from the humble whitepaper. Perhaps it’s time you had a chat with that old guy in the office who nobody can remember hiring. We bet he might have some wisdom for you too. Good luck!

 

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