In a recent post, fellow blogger Dirk Shaw suggested reusing portions of white papers as blog posts. That’s a great idea, since white papers are too expensive not to re-use as much as possible. But white papers are meant to be educational and impartial, not newsy and controversial the way blogs should be.  Here are my thoughts for white paper recycling,  broken down by key sections, and would love to hear yours.  

The problem statement: Describes the business/technical pain points facing the prospect, in such a way the vendor’s product or service will solve them. To use as posts, give each statement a time hook, such as “Just met w/Fortune 500 company struggling with scripts for Windows file transfer.” Or you can describe how the problem affects a specific vertical market: “Foreclosure glut driving document imaging sales for courts.” Once you have your news hook, use the white paper text to describe each problem in more detail. Stick to one problem statement per post and end conversationally, with a teaser to keep the reader coming back: “Now in proof of concept at Fortune 500 prospect with file transfer software” or ”Stimulus money may pay for imaging systems, but still navigating Federal paperwork.”

The shopping list: These are the features/functions a customer needs to solve the problem (again, weighted to make the white paper sponsor look good.) To use in a blog, tie each feature or function to needs or situations you’re seeing in the field. “CFO sees need for single sign-on after password glitch locks out supplier ”or“ CRM licenses go unused at big retailer as salespeople balk at clumsy interface.”  You can even use an announcement by a competitor as the news hook:  “SaaS vendor cuts CRM pricing, but where’s their Outlook Integration?”  Again, limit yourself to one feature/function per post, and end conversationally. “Still making ROI argument for single sign-on with CFO.” “Still at retailer, seeing if our interface is customizable enough for them.” You can also end with a question, to stimulate conversation and do some market research: “BW, we support Outlook, but not Thunderbird. Should we?”  

How we solve the problem: This final section explains how your product or service fills each critical customer need. This is the toughest material to re-use, since simply describing what you do is a press release, not a blog. My hunch is to follow the social media mantra of “First listen and serve, then sell.” Search message boards, Facebook, LinkedIn and  Twitter for common questions about your feature set and reuse thewhite paper  text around your overall approach and architecture, not the specific features. “Here’s why we put an early bet on supporting cloud management standards even though they’re not finalized.”  That informs prospects and establishes you as a credible vendor for when they’re ready to buy. If you must post about a specific feature or function, combine it with text from the pain points or what-to-buy sections of the white paper to make it more newsy and worthy of comment.    

And, finally, keep your blog headlines to 140 characters or less so you can Tweet your posts, recycling the info yet once more. I have a feeling we’ll all be called upon to write white papers more suitable for re-use; would love to hear your thoughts on how to do it.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Filed under: Content MarketingPR/Marketing Trends

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