Because white papers have such high levels of proven marketing value, it's tempting to consider every potential topic about a product to be worthy of a white paper. But of course, not every topic is suitable...or even best presented in a white paper format.
How do you choose which topics should be covered in a technical white paper? The following criteria can help you decide; consider a white paper for a topic that:
- Explains the design, implementation, or application concepts built into the product or technology.
- Discusses market or industry factors that impact a customer's need for the product.
- Presents in-depth analysis of factors for the business decision, such as how to calculate the potential ROI and payback period for a typical implementation, or how to evaluate qualitative value points.
- Recommends evaluation factors for a technical decision-maker. For example, a common white paper topic for many technical products is a discussion of the product architecture. This topic is of keen interest to technical decision makers, who want to know how the product works and how it will integrate within their technical environments before they will seriously consider it as a candidate for purchase.
For topics that don't meet these criteria, other types of marketing materials may be a good choice:
- An article on the company website or submitted to online or print publications that covers the relevant technology, industry, or customer base.
- A technical note or application note is an especially good choice for topics that would be of interest only to very specific groups of customers. The 1-2 page typical length for a note can present individual topics when the amount of information or discussion isn't enough to fill a typical 6-8 page white paper.
- A blog post for even shorter topics.
A good white paper writer can help you choose which document type is best for a topic and can identify effective ways to present the topic in your other content marketing efforts.
How do you decide which topics are worth the expense and effort of a white paper?