By Nicole Coons
Frost & Sullivan
Third party white papers are extremely well received in the marketplace. Not only do the unbiased findings of these reports build credibility for your brand, they also promote interest in your solutions. Leading organizations who take advantage of this marketing tactic will see tremendous results, especially when leveraged properly. To help aid you in your promotions, we’ve devised a checklist of 26 ways to get more mileage out of your third party white papers far beyond simply sharing the content.
To help you plan, it’s helpful if you break up the way you tackle this project into three phases:
- Pre-promotion Phase, where you will be preparing all of the assets you’ll need in your promotion;
- Promotion Phase, where you will be promoting your paper and other things you prepared; and
- Post-promotion Phase, where you will be taking further actions based on the results of your promotion phase.
Here are the things you can include in each phase of your white paper promotion program.
1. Break the white paper up into chapters
Most white papers are lengthier than a typical blog article, so it can really help your readers digest the information of each section when you break out the chapters into stand-alone pieces.
Plus, the ability to promote different chapters with different angles on the topic can increase your reach to different audiences. For example, maybe one group of prospects are more interested in the technology considerations; perhaps another subset are more interested in the human resources impact. One paper that covers all of these topics may be unnecessary to some, but these “mini-papers” can provide exactly the quick insight your future clients need to move their thinking process forward, and they will thank you for making it available in bite-sized portions.
2. Create a SlideShare
According to statistics reported by SlideShare, a LinkedIn company, if you are not making a slideshare version for every one of your most important marketing messages, you are missing an enormous opportunity. Slideshare is visited by 81 million users, with 80% of its traffic coming from Search. As one of the top 100 most-visited websites in the world, SlideShare is most frequently referenced by people looking for content tagged as business, statistics, social media, market, trends, and research.
With your third party white paper, you can create a SlideShare presentation on the same topic as a chapter from the white paper. Reference the white paper with pull quotes, key stats, etc. At the end of the SlideShare invite readers to register to download a copy of the full white paper or white paper chapter.
3. Build a story-telling infographic
Here’s another tactic that some people think no longer has impact. Some say video has taken over the landscape of visual communication. But the latest stats on infographics show that if spreading your message and capturing attention are your goals, the visual impact of infographics wins the day. Eye-tracking studies show readers online pay close attention to relevant information presented with images. Furthermore, infographics are “liked” and shared on social media 3X more than other any other type of content.
Why? “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Visual stories pierce our state of distraction. We are drawn to anything that helps us get information quickly. A white paper on its face may not be the best way to first grab a prospects attention until they know it will be worth their investment of time to read it. So an infographic is your best bet at grabbing attention early and building a reliable connection with your audience early on in their thinking process.
4. Create Pull Quote cards to be used in social media
It’s almost certain that the white paper contains helpful sound bites that others can relate to. Be sure to capture a range of quotes that capture the challenges, common approaches that don’t always work, surprising outcomes, and certainly any line that positions your brand in the best light. You’ll want to size these pull quote cards for sharing in social media, as well as in documents, proposals and presentations.
5. Create a landing page to collect names to access the full report
Creating a landing page to capture the name and contact information of anyone interested in reading the white paper is perhaps an obvious step. But it’s one of the most important elements of your overall program, as all mentions will lead back to this page so you can build your list.
6. Plan blog articles about the topic
Most white papers written by a third party take a broader view on an industry topic or challenge, and your solution was likely featured. Chances are the article presents findings or points of view that leave room for further discussion. Take this opportunity to use the white paper as a springboard for additional blog articles. You could create a half a dozen articles or more from the topics, ideas and statistics reported in the white paper. You could even tell a customer story in the context of the white paper’s findings, quoting key points from the analyst as substantiation of your claim.
7. Create an executive summary
White papers can provide tremendous value and insights to executives looking to build case studies for budget proposals, project plans or team trainings. However, the length of a white paper can be overwhelming until your prospect knows it contains insight he or she needs. Create an executive summary of the white paper that you can publish without registration on your blog or a landing page. Include a link or form to download the full report.
8. Create email footers for sales and customer service teams to include in their email stationary
Sales and customer service people are emailing customers and prospects all day long. What better way to increase visibility for your third party white paper than to create a set of footer graphics and taglines to drive interest in the white paper? Be sure to also create custom, trackable links for each sales person or team. So each time they send an email, not only are you increasing the number of invitations to download your white paper, you’re able to track and celebrate individuals or teams who are taking action to share the white paper.
9. Create a list of sharable key brand messages that are substantiated by the paper
The white paper likely includes some key takeaways that will help your prospects in their analysis of the problem and selection of your solution. Help your customers connect the dots by creating sharable key brand messages that are substantiated by the paper.
For example, let’s say the white paper contains a key takeaway that “printers have entered a new era of efficiency for businesses wanting to move faster at a lower cost,” and your brand excels in printing speed. You could create a sharable point of view that says “Printing speed is the future of productivity. Click here to see how our brand is evaluated.”
10. Identify your lists
Remember you are not the only person that can help to spread the word about your white paper. And, the more organized you are in advance about your lists, the more creative you can be when you get to the next phase of promotion. While this step seems simple, and like a task you can save for the promotion stage, for many companies it does require some leg work. Depending on the topic of the white paper, different people will be interested in the findings or may have a motive of their own for sharing. Take time during this pre-promotion phase to assemble your lists of influencers, reporters, associations, customers, partners, investors, prospects and other contacts who will be interested in the findings and insights of this white paper.
11. Write a nurture or drip email campaign
An essential part of your pre-promotion effort should include writing a nurture or drip email campaign using a series of key points from the paper. Each chapter of the paper likely has its own valuable insights. Breaking down your communication about the full white paper into bite-sized chunks will go a long way in helping your readers relate and digest its key points.
You can also use the email series to relate the paper’s findings to a customer challenge and leverage this opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and value.
12. Prepare a press release about the white paper
Last but not least, creating a press release about the white paper and including key findings that point to your company’s value will lend additional credibility to your message. Showing that your organization is proud of your accomplishments by issuing a press release sends a vote of confidence to all who interact with you.
13. Content syndication
Content syndication is the simplest, most rapid way to increase exposure of your paper to relevant audiences online. While it is pay to play, the ability to target based on interest, audience and more gives you ample control over the exposure and impact you can have with just one white paper.
14. Maximize your press release
When you issue your press release, be sure to time other communications with the same announcement to your list of audiences by email, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social channels. PR is often overlooked or treated as an activity of its own, but when the release is coordinated with other communications, the ripple effect across channels creates impact.
15. Invite influencers and partners in your industry to share the report
Certain influencers and partners in your industry will appreciate the opportunity to be the first to share the third-party white paper with their audiences. Ideal companies for this kind of promotion are those who are known for being “in the know.” On LinkedIn, look for individuals with the Influencer status in your industry.
16. Run a robust LinkedIn promotion
Since you spent the time pre-promotion to create all of your promotion assets, you should now have a robust library of images, one-liners and more to run an active LinkedIn campaign, both free and paid. Your posting schedule can include daily posts at first. Over time, repurpose and refresh those posts that got the most activity.
Be sure to save some of your blogs for LinkedIn “Articles” posts.
17. Add value to LinkedIn Group discussions and your LinkedIn Wall.
People love to hear any key takeaway that’s going to help them think differently about a challenge they’re facing. Use the material you prepared ahead of time to add value to any LinkedIn Group you’re already a part of, or start a new conversation in your own group. Having people request the link to the full report, or simply providing it as a follow up in the comments will be a natural extension of the conversation, and an ideal way to build credibility and trust with new audiences.
18. Host a webinar using the deck created for slideshare.
Webinars are a terrific way of getting a conversation started around the challenges and solutions that are highlighted in the white paper. If you position it as a discussion forum about the white paper, there’s a natural desire of the participants to want to read the paper. With them both reading the white paper and listening in on a conversation that goes deeper, a prospect’s understanding of the value you deliver can skyrocket in a short amount of time.
19. Plug your landing page into everything.
You went to the effort of creating a landing page to collect leads for the white paper (or the chapters). Now, be sure to take this critical step during the promotion stage—plug a link to that landing page everywhere! In some cases, it will be a link to the page. In other cases, it might be a smaller embedded form right into your website pages that allows visitors to provide their email and gain access in one click. In social media, be sure to link to the landing page from both images and posts.
20. Offer the report PDF as a content upgrade
This is really an extension of the previous idea, but it’s unique enough that it gets its own bullet. Scour through your previous blogs, especially blogs that are your highest performers and that are related to the white paper. On any of your high-performing, relevant blog pages, break up the body of the blog post with a call-to-action banner to download the white paper as a bonus to the blog article.
21. Coordinate marketing and sales promo schedule.
Just as you did with the press release, any time you schedule a big marketing push, have your sales team coordinate their footer feature and sharing on social media at the same time as your marketing push to increase the sense of omni-presence. Sometimes sales teams will get access to a special footer offers and will leave them in place without connection to the overall campaign. When your teams’ emails are updated with the latest offers, your organizations credibility gets a boost.
22. Blog Round-up Article
After your promotion period has ended, very important opportunities can be discovered by reviewing the performance of everything created for the program. A valuable resource to your readers would be a round-up blog article and social post series for recapping and re-sharing the most popular insights. This second wave could give everything you created in the pre-promotion stage a second life.
23. Follow your followers
On your social media posts, you likely had people who commented, liked or shared your posts. Using tools like BuzzSumo, you can see who shared your article. Whether they commented, liked or shared, first note them on your list of people with interest in your topic, paying particular attention to people with larger followings. If possible, follow them on social media so you can stay in touch with them in the future. Then, the next time you write a blog about this same topic, you have an expanded list of people to inform about your latest article.
24. Tag your biggest fans
For individuals in LinkedIn or Twitter who consistently comment on or share your posts, be sure to tag them in future posts so they are sure to see any follow up articles you write.
25. Produce a video on your highest performing topic
Producing videos is a time consuming and sometimes expensive proposition. You want to make sure that the topic is highly interesting and relevant to your audience. You can use the results of your promotional campaign to find out which angle is the biggest “hook” for your audience. Armed with this information, investing time and money into the production of a video is time well spent.
26. Create a Downloadable Playbook
Create a useful bundle of all of the articles, presentations, customer case studies along with the white paper and market it as a handbook or playbook to your prospects to help them solve a common challenge.
When your brand is featured in a third party white paper, the potential increases for your brand to be perceived positively by your prospects. Take the time to carefully plan, execute and follow up on a complete promotional campaign surrounding the release of your white paper, and you will reap the rewards not only for months, but potentially for the year to come.
Nicole Coons, Marketing Vanguard/Principal Consultant, Brand and Demand Solutions, Frost & Sullivan, brings over 15 years of achievement in integrated marketing strategy and implementation to her current role. Her work has helped the marketing departments of small start-up companies, mid-sized growth firms and Fortune 500 firms alike achieve noticeable improvements in brand positioning, lead generation and revenue growth.
Prior to joining Frost & Sullivan, Nicole was the Vice President of Client Services at the Bailiwick Company, where she led Avaya’s Unified Communications lead generation program for the product’s global launch, created a “center of excellence” in demand generation and earned the CMO’s ACE award. Achievements for other clients in the telecommunications, hi-tech, software and professional services sectors include leading an integrated marketing plan that increased customer retention from 85% to 98% in two years; enabling a high-tech software client to gain strategic marketing insights via survey research and directing a comprehensive communications and marketing plan following a three-company merger, resulting in 100% employee support and achievement of corporate sales goals.