I’ve described white paper projects that don’t go well due to problems in the process of writing. Even with a flawless paper, the project can falter due to problems in publishing the paper.
- Let it die on the vine – There is always a bit more work you need to do once the authors, reviewers and artists are finished. As marketing manager, you need to give birth to the paper and ensure it sees the light of day. Pushing it those last few inches can take a lot of effort – like the effort to send that last e-mail message of the day when you’d rather close your laptop and go to bed – but do it.
- Hide it under a rock – You need to put the paper where target readers will find it. You probably know that already, but perhaps your organization doesn’t know how to capitalize on what good bait your white paper can be. Many companies bury this kind of content several levels down in their Website, on a product- or solution-page. Surfers are looking for this kind of paper, so don’t make them work for it; link to it from your home page, or create an easily visible page on which your white papers, case studies and published articles all live.
- Give it to the wrong stakeholder – Who is the best custodian of your new white paper? Sales? Business Development? Channel Marketing? Engineering? I’ve had good, rich content – news articles, which have time-value – slide into obscurity because it went to a Website owner who stuck it wherever it would fit, instead of to the champion who really promoted it on the site.
- Put a big form-fill in front of it – If you really want to waste time and money, put your white paper behind a long form. No reader wants to put up with that in this day and age. Naturally, you want to capture the lead, but people would rather buy without being sold to. I posted before on the idea of giving away your content, which is a good idea if you have mountains of it, but if you’re not ready to make it so freely available, just ask for an e-mail address (be prepared for it to be a throwaway address) and an optional comment on what the visitor is looking for. Whenever I’ve done that, I’ve been surprised at the uptake.
This series has described white paper projects that don’t go well, and how you can avoid this situation. Of course, they sometimes go quite well, and as a marketing manager, that’s where you’ll want to focus.