How To Create a White Paper that Will Generate Leads- Part II
Editor Note: In Leah's first article of this series (How To Create a White Paper that Will Generate Leads- Part I), she approached the topic from the angle of topically speaking. This second article will shed light on commission, partnership, and curation.
Selling Vs. Sharing: There’s a Difference
One of the main benefits of practicing content marketing vs. traditional digital marketing is that content inherently contains the potential for brand evangelism; it’s basically a method of sharing versus selling (and we all know the statistics for digital advertising nowadays, they’re not great). There is no strategy in pushing out a message: “Hey Read This” to some anonymous audience on Twitter or elsewhere. Relationships rule here, and social media sharing should not only be a goal for your content – it should be a major influence in its ideation – from the topics you decide on to the people involved in creating it. 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word-of-mouth when making purchasing decisions. This means that a “digitally relevant” thought leader in the industry interviewed in your content, creating your content, Tweeting out your content and/or sharing your content on LinkedIn is much more powerful than you doing those things. Who is “digitally relevant”? This is a person who is either on Twitter with a good amount of influencer followers, and/or they’re very active on LinkedIn either as publishers or participants in discussion groups.
Thinking About Thought Leaders
The other day I was discussing sourcing influencers and a marketer asked me: “What if I contact so-and-so to do some writing and he says no.” Well, I explained, you’ll actually need to plan on lots of “nos”. Sourcing thought leaders is like planning a party, you don’t invite three people and hope they bring friends – you invite 50 people (and hope they don’t all show up with friends). I have contacted people from all levels of thought leadership, from Nobel prize winners to small business owners, and some of the most powerful people in the world may get right back to you – while you’ll be sitting there scratching your head as to why others don’t respond to your emails. Cast a wide net and expect a small percentage of people to get back to you.
Who You Commission Content with Counts
Many marketers use agencies or services to source freelance writers; personally, I have not found these options to reflect my needs in sourcing influencers – I haven’t seen one freelancer site that lists social media relevance in a writers’ skill set, for example. Another thing that I have found is the more successful the writer, the less inclined they will be to accept a topic that they don’t believe they are 100% equipped to write about – while people I have met on freelance sites often jump at chances to write about topics they are clearly not experts in. I go directly to the source and find thought leaders on social media, it takes a little bit of research, patience and actual time engaging on social media; Klout and other lists are not always the best way to find people (and may actually create more work for you as you sift through profiles that are not necessarily relevant). Another method of sourcing thought leaders is doing it the old-fashioned way – using your current team member’s contacts if you are lucky enough to have those relationships.
You Have Partnered with a Thought Leader, Now What
Once you have partnered with someone who will be creating content for you; you want to decide if the content you plan on getting created, in our case a white paper, would be benefitted by having several thought leaders involved. This will take more time (and more money), but depending on how connected your content creator is, it will give you potential for exponentially more exposure. I have seen this in action; a colleague hired a thought leader who collaborated with several other thought leaders to create an eBook. The day the content was released, Twitter feeds for that industry were full of “thank you’s” acknowledging how much fun this particular person creating the content had working with a stellar team; all of these Tweets got the attention of not one but two major Global thought leaders (who mind you, had nothing to do with the report) who subsequently joined the conversation and shared with their combined 100K followers. And all of this excitement happened even before the actual topics discussed in the content began their very successful run on social media.
The Curation Option
Using a thought leader to create your content will bring many more returns than not, however, not all organizations have the budget for a project cost that could potentially run quite high with no guaranteed return on investment. Here’s where I might say a DIY option of curation has potential. Think about it, you could spend a couple thousand dollars on a non-influencer (writers are expensive!) or you could keep it in house essentially just costing your own time. Creating your own white paper in-house - because there is so little money involved – is a great test to see if the topic draws interest.
How to curate? There are resources you may not even be aware you have internally. One organization I worked for had data that no one else had access to on global eCommerce, another organization, a job site, utilized job seeker surveys giving us really valuable insight. You don’t have to be Gartner to do industry research and write up a report on it. Be creative; think outside-the-box. Get in your customers’ digital shoes, spend time on social media, check out your competitors’ content - and if they don’t have any look to other industries outside your own for inspiration. I am hard pressed to think of an industry that wouldn’t be able to create something cool and interesting in-house with little or no budget to drive site traffic and leads. Need suggestions? Check out this original B2B eBook I created here back in 2013 for a software company with absolutely no budget.
Stay tuned for next month’s Part Three: You’re Not Done Yet - How to Successfully Promote a White Paper Online to Reach Your B2B Audience.