Top Mistakes in Writing a White Paper


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The top mistakes in writing a white paper.

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Top Mistakes in Writing a White Paper

  1. 1. At last, white paper secrets revealed… Who Else Wants To Know The Top 10 Mistakes in Writing a White Paper? You’re making at least 2 of these mistakes, and it is probably costing you money… by M. Kyle Craig – Marketer, Writer, and Technologist Author is M. Kyle Craig
  2. 2. Dear Friend: If you’re reading this, you must be using white papers in your marketing. Right? Right!?!?!? I hope you are. They are a killer tool in any marketer’s arsenal. They are perfect for building your guru status, lead generation, opt-in bait, educating your prospects, and establishing yourself as an industry leader. But most people are doing it wrong. You probably are to. Author is M. Kyle Craig
  3. 3. This short primer will improve your white papers. You should take these tips and start making more money and getting more leads. Hopefully you’re already using white papers in your marketing plan. If so, then you already know that putting a well-written piece in front of a potential customer is an easy way to make a sale. If you aren’t using white papers, well… …you need to NOT read this… Close down the reader and you need to go and start writing your white paper. Come back when you have your white paper finished… Take a few minutes to read through this list. You’ll learn some things and improve your white papers. Author is M. Kyle Craig
  4. 4. Why use a White Paper? ( A few reasons.. ) - Creates focused attention on your product Today, people spend their day ignoring ads, marketing messages, and all the other interruptions that come at them. It’s call ‘ad blindness.’ Many businesses would love to have a prospect focus on their product. That’s what a white paper does – it creates focused attention on your product from your potential customer. - Answers common – even complex – issues about you Because you have the reader’s attention, you can answer the most common and the most complex topics about you, your company, and your product/service. That is nearly impossible to do with an ad or an email - Allows to you to quickly get inside the customer’s organization Most white papers are PDFs. This digital format means that your paper can be sent to multiple people inside your prospect’s company. You gain an advantage because the more people learn about your product, the easier it is to make the sale. Author is M. Kyle Craig
  5. 5. Mistake #1 Turning the paper into an advertisement By far, the most common mistake you’ll make is launching into an advertisement. This is the number one reason why a prospect stops reading. People view hundreds of advertisements in a day – on the web, TV, radio, billboards, newspapers, and magazines. It seems like whatever the medium, there is always an ad. Because of this bombardment, the average consumer has become very adept at one thing – ignoring ads. When your white paper starts into a sales pitch, the reader goes into the operating mode of ignoring you. Your white paper should educate the reader. You can explain a trend or methodology, solve a new problem, or present a new way of solving an old problem. But don’t start off by selling them. As soon as they start to smell a pitch, they leave and go somewhere else. Most probably to your competitors. Remember this - they are trading a small piece of their time to read your paper. Don’t jeopardize that gift by jumping into a pitch. They have given you a portion of their time, so you should give them new information. Return their gift of attention on your paper by providing something in return – education. Your first goal is to educate. Author is M. Kyle Craig
  6. 6. Mistake #2 Confusing company information with customer interest Today’s harsh truth - most people are buying your product to help themselves, not to help you. Yes the purchase helps you by giving you more sales, but the customer could care less about that. They want your product because it helps them solve their own issue. So don’t begin your paper with company information. Front-loading a white paper with 3 pages of company information history is ego-centric and offensive. As people take interest in your company, discuss information related to the issues, not information about you. Imagine two people on a date. A young couple sits down at a nice, semi-romantic restaurant. As the appetizers reach the table, the man launches into mindless dribble about himself. He completely ignores his date and starts only talking about his accomplishments. What happens next? She’s bored. And annoyed. There is no second date. Many companies want to be portrayed as professional. They have a tendency to prove that upfront - why they are the best, how their product is the best, and how they are better than the competition. People don’t want to hear about you, they want to hear about themselves. There’s nothing wrong with putting information about yourself. Just create a separate section of the paper to hold that information – at the end. Author is M. Kyle Craig
  7. 7. Mistake #3 No clear action path for follow-up What happens when someone finishes reading your paper? They close down the .PDF file and then they go back to their work. Do you think they’ll come back to it later? They almost never do. You should guide your prospect after they’ve read the paper. You need a clear action sequence that the customer should follow. Most white papers have no approach at all. They leave the paper as is and expect the sales team to follow up with the prospect. Usually, this translates to missed opportunities and lost dollars. What exactly should the action be? It depends, your actions can be varied. You could have them: go to a landing page, send an email, place a phone call, download a software demo. Something. Just make sure you tell them where to go. If you don’t give the reader a clear idea of where to go, you are leaving the sale to random chance. By specifically telling them the next step, you guide the reader along, putting them one step closer to purchasing. What is the next step you want people to take? Author is M. Kyle Craig
  8. 8. Mistake #4 Not knowing the reader How well do you know your reader? You can probably tell me their title, the industry they’re in, and a few company names. That’s not enough. You need to know your reader so well that you can anticipate their next move before they even make it. Many companies use market research and sales data to broadly define their audience. But two people could have similar job titles but vastly different responsibilities. Depending on the industry, the job requirements could be different. By using broad strokes of data to define the audience, you are missing the smaller, more salient points about the reader. You must have a complete understanding of your reader. You should maintain detailed information that relates to job title, industry, specific duties, etc. You should know her job responsibility, know his hardships, and the worries on their mind. Who does he report to? What does she manage? What creates pressure and stress for her? What is his approval process? There are many, many more. This understanding focuses you on the reader’s internal motivations and creates a strong connection with them. When you know the reader intimately, you’ll produce better information and write in a way that’s clear and concise. It’s that connection that will ultimately lead to more sales Author is M. Kyle Craig
  9. 9. Mistake #5 Overlooking thought leadership. Generally, white papers are used to educate prospects about current products. This is short-term thinking – write a paper, get leads, make sales. Most companies want more sales today. Who doesn’t want that? White papers are also used to build your credibility over the long term. It’s called ‘thought leadership’. Thought leadership white papers offer information that is relevant, applicable, and interesting to your core audience. The information helps your customers understand your vision, solve a problem, or educate on upcoming problems. This technique is applied repeatedly over time. Thought leadership, if done properly, creates a unique position for you. Prospective customers will start to visit your site for information before they begin their search. Initially, a thought leadership paper may have lackluster results. Over time though, a thought leadership initiative will generate more leads. And more importantly, the leads will be better and will be closer to closing. Author is M. Kyle Craig
  10. 10. Mistake #6 Skipping the subject headline Writers don’t really want to spend time on the subject headline. You probably don’t either. After you’ve spent countless hours of researching, writing, and editing, the headline should describe the topic, not be ‘catchy.’ You want the content to carry itself. The problem with this is… without a good headline, the number of people that will read your paper is EXACTLY 2 – you and your proofreader. You should realize that most people, like you, are pressed for time. They make a split second decision about your paper, including it’s worthiness to them, it’s relevance to them, and it’s quality. The headline is the first rung in the decision making ladder inside a the human brain. It serves one purpose - to get your reader to move further into the paper. If the headline is dull, you’ll likely find yourself being passed over. The best subject headlines are the ones that make the prospect thinking to themselves: “Man! I’ve got to stop everything I’m doing and read this paper. Right now!” Author is M. Kyle Craig
  11. 11. Mistake #7 Not re-using the content You should be spending several hours of research and editing before you begin to write. So that begs the question - Why would you take all that time and then just it one time? Leverage your effort into other areas. To get more return out of your time invested, re-use the content in different forms. Psychologists have long recognized that different people have different styles of learning. Why aren’t you taking your invested time and using it to your advantage? Here is a short list of follow-on items that could be quickly built using data from a white paper: - Special ‘member-only’ sections on your website - Niche sites on the web - Specialized landing pages - Presentations -Training classes for customers - Datasheets Author is M. Kyle Craig
  12. 12. Mistake #8 Not respecting the writing process The actual ‘writing’ part of a white paper is really only a piece of the whole process. Yes, that’s right. I said ‘process’. Ironically, most people don’t realize this. This is grossly oversimplified, but the process is : Research -> Planning -> Writing -> Editing Not many people realize that the great writers are also the most disciplined. It takes more than a simple, “I’m going to write a white paper today.’ kind of attitude. Skipping these steps (or taking short-cuts) leads to ineffective work. If you’ve ever had a white paper that has grown out of control or has lost its effectiveness, then you probably aren’t using a process. Shortcutting these steps will hurt you in the long run. It will show in the content. And even if the readers (remember your prospects? The ones with the money?) can’t quite pinpoint what’s wrong with the paper, they’ll know it unconsciously. And then they’ll go somewhere else to buy. Author is M. Kyle Craig
  13. 13. Mistake #9 Misuse of jargon - Use it sparingly You use jargon everyday. You use it at the bar, at the grocery store, at work,… everywhere. Jargon is the informal words (and phrases) that you use with your friends and families. It has a purpose in social settings, but not in writing. Your white paper should be professional and communicate clearly, without being boring. There should be no jargon in a white paper. But… in some cases, you should use jargon… “What?” you say. Jargon in social settings is used to create bonding and to show friendship among the members. Jargon also is used to establish authority and expertise. By carefully using jargon in your paper, you can subtly imply these factors in your white paper. When you use jargon, you can imply that your product/business is the best or you are the authority on a topic. But it does need to be used carefully. You should always focus on communicating clearly, but the more you are the expert, you more people will buy. Author is M. Kyle Craig
  14. 14. Mistake #10 Thinking: “Our market is different. A white paper will never work for us.” I hate to break it to you. Your market isn’t different. No, it’s really not. Believe me, everyone says that. Sure there are some special details that only exist in your business. But the simple fact of the matter is that human psychology doesn’t change. Prospects respond to good information and they want to buy good products. Using a white paper makes that happen. Don’t fall into the trap that your market is different. Keep an open mind and pull in new ideas from all areas. One good idea could get your over your next big hurdle. The principles of business, marketing, and customers still apply. Even if you think your business is different. Author is M. Kyle Craig
  15. 15. About the author M. Kyle Craig Kyle Craig is a marketer, writer, and technology. He has been involved in over 40 product launches and has written in most vehicles, including from newsletters, articles, whtie papers, press releases, web content, and blog posts. He is a marketing consultant that combines online and offline methods in the marketing plan. Email: kyle @ the white paper place {dot} com . (Remove the spaces and replace the dot…) This content is provided from . Author is M. Kyle Craig