Show Your White Paper to an Industry Analyst

This post was written by John White on Thu, 04 Aug 2011 08:16:29 +0000
Posted Under: ideal reader,messaging,white papers

How many dozens of hours did you, your writer and your reviewers just pour into that white paper? One word from an analyst can pay big dividends.

Show me your white paper.“There’s an industry analyst who knows our company and competitors very well,” said the marketing manager. “He’s pretty accessible, and he has the reputation for calling b.s. whenever we put it in front of him. Shall we show him the white paper you’re writing?”

Uhh…maybe not so much.

Early on, I wasn’t in favor of that. “We’re not writing the paper for analysts,” I countered. “We’re writing it for prospects. It might be valuable to brief him on the paper and make sure we’re not leaving anything out, but it wouldn’t be like testing the paper on an ideal reader.”

Then we went through two months of edits, rewrites, reviews, put-this-in, take-that-out, back, forth and sideways. The marketing manager brought up the topic of the analyst again. I had begun to come around.

The analyst’s perspective

Why show your white paper to an analyst? After all, they’re known for writing, but they’re not know for writing very interesting stuff.

Don’t expect an analyst to say, “You need better transitions from this section to the next one,” or “I think you need a catchier introduction.” Those things are important to ensure you engage your readers and leave them wanting more, but analysts aren’t looking at it that way.

In the short run, you want the analyst to say, “Mommy bloggers are increasing in clout, and you should broaden this first section to include them,” or “Don’t put the words ‘cloud computing‘ in the title. It’s worn out.”

In the long run, you want the analyst to tell her other clients about you. “Why are you doing this in software?” you want her to say. “Tchotchke Technologies wrote a paper on how they do it in hardware that’s ten times faster. You could triple your sales.” Or, “Take a look at Tchotchke. They’ve just put out a paper on what they’re doing, but they’re not in Europe yet. I think you could find ways to complement each other.”

Don’t show your white paper to analysts because of how they write. Show it to them because of the people they talk to.

Does it affect your content?

Should your marketing communications writer create the paper any differently, knowing that you’re going to show it to an analyst?

Yes.

He should write it better.

The analyst becomes the ideal reader. The message has to be crisp, well delivered and memorable. You were going to have your writer do that anyway, but now that you can describe your ideal reader and the conversation you want her to have, you can double-down on clarity and message.

And whatever you do, don’t give an analyst a brochure disguised as a white paper. It wastes your time and annoys the analyst.

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: San Jose Library

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