Mind Your White Paper Research
Research is an important part of a white paper. The inclusion of industry statistics, quotes from an industry spokeperson or expert, and testimonial examples makes a white paper more enjoyable and believable. It also makes it more effective.
This is especially true in the introduction section of a white paper when industry and background issues are presented. Quality research helps to establish credibility with the reader that can be verified later in the paper in the solution advantage section.
Uncovering highly accurate and timely research directly tied to your particular point can also be a time consuming and arduous process to uncover on the Internet. Because of this, many organizations outsourcing their white paper function also want the writer to conduct the background research. Here are some flaws with this strategy:
1. Impact on the Sales Process - Many white papers are used in face-to-face meetings and with prospective clients as leave behind materials during a sales call, a presentation, or a trade show, etc. If a prospect asks your salesperson about a particular statistic used in the white paper, it doesn’t look very good if they say, “I don’t know“, or “I’ve never heard about it“. The research statistics used in a white paper should be very familiar to each person in your organization. They should be able to explain how that research compliments your solution.
2. Access to a Subscribed Website - Most companies subscribe to industry publications, keep tabs on competitive or industry websites, or read articles and/or white papers from industry analysts. Whenever you read an article in one of these publications that represents a view complimentary to your solution or strategy, you should bookmark it in your browser. Then with your next white paper project, you can use these bookmarks for reference and validation in your white paper. A freelance writer may not have access to a subscription/industry news site where that quote, statistic, or article is used and referenced.
3. Outdated or Unprofessional Material - Your freelance writer may uncover background research that is more than three years old. Research information of this age is considered outdated and no longer valid. Old research will discredit your white paper in the eyes of your reader and make them think that current research does not support your current solution message. Information from a blog is often opinion-based information, without valid proof or reference, and is not qualified for the integrity of a white paper.
4. Lack of Control - You never know what your writer may use that they may feel is pertinent to the subject. A quote from a competitor? A source that later publishes an article counter to your solution claims? An analyst that might be paid for their perspective? If you use these “less than credible” claims, they can yield a “less than positive” outcome for your white paper. Take control and guide your writer to the sources you want to use for background research. Take control over your content and provide them with articles, industry publications, websites, etc, that you know reinforce your solution messages. Freelance writers are paid to write and polish your content and not come up with information that is responsible for reinforcing your corporate strategy, strategic direction, or marketing messages.
By understanding where the lines are drawn with your white paper research, your writer will be able to produce a more effective white paper that established credibility for your corporate solution or strategy and generates greater leads, increasing your chances for success.