If you're considering a white paper project for your company, these tips will help you collaborate with a content marketing agency or copywriter for a great finished product.
When developing your marketing strategy, one of the key ingredients is often a “demand generation” piece, such as an ebook or white paper. Typically, these are informative, in-depth content pieces that include a mix of industry analysis and strategic advice, which are hidden behind a “gate,” or contact form.
These white papers have to be compelling enough to encourage your prospects to give up their valuable contact data, enabling you to add them to your email marketing contact database. But what if none of your staff members have the time to develop these content assets?
If you don’t have dedicated in-house resources to help, it may be time to contract with a content marketing agency or B2B copywriter—but how can you be sure that someone outside of your company has the background and knowledge to write the paper effectively? Here are some tips that we’ve gleaned from our own experience that may streamline the process:
When contracting with outside agencies or writers, there are three common pricing models: Per-hour, per-word, or per-project. While per-hour pricing may end up lower if the workload is smaller than your consultant had anticipated, it can also leave you with a much higher bill than you’d prepared for in some cases, and many companies prefer not to leave the project budget up in the air. Many agencies (ours included) prefer to work on a per-project basis, which encompasses client discussion, outlining (if required), a draft of an approximate word count, and up to two rounds of revisions. Keep in mind that if you request additional content midway through the project, the agency may need to recalculate the fee—but as long as the scope of the project stays the same, the expense will remain predictable.
Did your CEO recently give a PowerPoint presentation at a conference? Has your CTO hosted a webinar about a new industry trend? These marketing pieces took a long time to prepare—why not get some additional value out of them? Existing webinars, presentations, and other assets can easily provide an outline for a new white paper. Your writer will probably need to add in some supporting details and analysis, but having an existing base to work from will streamline the process immensely—and likely cut your costs. This post from Arnie Kuenn offers some good tips on repurposing content.
Depending on how organized your marketing organization is, you might have a precise idea of the points you want to convey in your white paper—or you might simply know that you’d like to develop something compelling to your customers. A content marketing agency or writer can help you in either case, but be upfront about how much preparation you’ve done. If the agency will be expected to help develop the outline, the workload will be greater, and likely command a higher rate than if you can hand over a detailed outline.
B2B copywriters don’t always have extensive knowledge about your particular industry—but good ones have the skills to adapt your internal knowledge into compellingly readable copy, provided that they’re given access to the proper resources. One of your main roles in the process is to assist the agency or writer by lining up time for them to interview subject-matter experts within your company, and providing them with access to industry survey data and reports that they can draw examples from. In some cases, including a customer case study can also be beneficial. During the course of outline development, you can collaborate with the agency or writer to discover what resources they will need to develop a detailed and authoritative white paper.
Sometimes, a writer hits it out of the park on a rough draft—but, particularly when working with a new client, he or she may need to make some revisions before the white paper is ready for public consumption. Don’t panic: Just make sure that any contract you sign has allowed for revisions. Professional B2B copywriters know that their client understands the company better than they do, and that they may need a little more guidance to get everything perfect, so they won’t take it personally if you need them to make some tweaks. By contracting with a content marketing agency on a retainer basis, you’ll likely find that they learn your industry and company well enough that revision requests become few and far between, so consider this option if you have regular content needs.
While it can be helpful for a B2B copywriter to communicate with multiple experts within your organization while developing initial copy, receiving comments and editing requests from each of these people may lead to unnecessary complications with the process, since some requests may be in direct conflict with others or add to the scope of the project.
Instead, after receiving a draft, discuss the paper and the changes you’d like to see internally with other employees who are involved in the process, and come to an agreement on your revision requests before putting anything in writing. That will make it much more straightforward for your writer to develop a revision that meets your company’s goals.
Do you have more tips on streamlining the white paper collaboration process? Share them in the comments.
Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than 16 years.
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