Establishing yourself as a generous thought leader is the quickest way to build trust and interest in your product or service. You can do that by sharing what you know freely. White papers are well suited to this purpose.
White papers are informational documents that help readers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision. In Social Media Content Planning we established that our material must be focused on the reader’s interests, not our own. That’s true of white papers as well. What issues are your readers or clients grappling with right now? What issue might they not yet know about, but should prepare for? What problem could your white paper help them understand or solve?
Think about the collective knowledge in your organization. You may find that you have enough material at hand to produce one paper per quarter for the next three years.
If you don’t have a professional writer on staff, or people with good writing and editing skills, you’ll need to outsource the work. Average fees for writing a white paper range from $3,000 to $6,000 each depending on the length of the document and the individual writer you select. Fees can certainly go much higher than that if you’re accessing a professional with significant background in your industry. Graphics and formatting will add another $300 – $400.
Getting Your White Papers Into The Right Hands
This is where your social media strategy comes into play. Make your white paper available to your Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and anyone who visits your blog. Here’s a really big tip: Make it easy for people to download it. A good rule of thumb I once saw on a training video is to use the Mom Test. That’s where you set up your white paper landing page and ask a supporter who’s not tech savvy, to go through each step required to get the paper. Don’t coach the person, just sit there with them and watch. Is it easy for them to figure out the steps required? Where are they having difficulty? You may find there is some wording or link placement that needs a little work to make it super easy for everyone.
Would you like to see some sample white papers? I thought you might. Here are white paper offers from three different companies. I chose these in particular because of how easy they made it to access the documents. Enjoy!