How to Write a White Paper When You Have No Time (3 Proven Methods)

how to write a white paper

Sergei Rachmaninov was one of the greatest pianist-composers of his time. 

An incredible piano virtuoso, he fled Russia with his family during the revolution and settled in New York City. Abram Chasins recounts (in his book Speaking of Pianists) how he showed up for a piano lesson with Rachmaninov one day and heard him practicing. Standing outside Rachmaninov’s door, Chasins was shocked to hear him practice Chopin’s etude in thirds at such a slow pace it was barely recognisable.

This ultra-slow practicing of music is a common way to improve playing ability. And it’s an amazing technique for serious pianists who have the time to put in the work. 

But as a marketing director, time is often not on your side 

You have deadlines looming constantly, and often need content created yesterday. So what do you do if you need something like a white paper created ASAP? 

In this article, you’ll learn how to create a white paper fast

The three methods we’ll go over are:

1 -Repurpose from a webinar 

2-Create a white paper foundation first 

3-Transcribe from subject matter expert interviews

Let’s begin with method number #1…

How to write a white paper fast – Idea 1: Repurpose

This is the first thing you can do to create a white paper fast. Instead of writing one from scratch, which can take weeks, you can take a webinar and repurpose the slides and audio into a white paper. 

For the audio, you can use a transcription service to get it converted into text. You’ll then need to have someone run through the text and clean it up.

Next, format the text so it flows naturally from one section to another. These sections will depend on the kind of white paper you need. But a typical white paper used for lead generation at the top of the funnel will have Introduction, Problem, Previous Solutions, New and Better Solution, Conclusion, and Call-to-Action sections. 

How to write a white paper fast – Idea 2: Use a Foundation

The foundation for your white paper is your plan or outline. Planning out a white paper first is always a great idea for several reasons: 

– It gets all project stakeholders on board and in agreement before writing the full piece

– It helps streamline your thinking

– It saves time when you write. Time management experts say that every minute planning saves 10 minutes in execution

– It ensures you get your full paper off the ground with minimum hassle

– It helps your white paper achieve its goal

A useful foundation for your white paper will outline the business goal, the target audience, SEO keywords, potential titles, a list of official reviewers, where the paper fits in the sales cycle, the call-to-action, the timeline, and sources for research. 

So that’s the first two techniques. What’s the third?

How to write a white paper fast – Idea 3: Transcribe

According to a recent article in MarketingProfs, there are several things you can do to extract great content from your subject matter experts (SMEs). 

First, your SMEs are likely involved in calls, interviews, and conversations regularly. So why not take advantage of this? 

Take a recent interview or call that your SME was on

And use a transcription service to convert the audio into text. Have someone run through the text and see if there’s anything you can use for a white paper.

Obviously, you’ll want to use a call or interview that was specifically related to the subject matter of the white paper you want to write. Or you can jump on a future call the SME has scheduled. Beforehand, make sure you confirm with everyone that it’s OK to have the call recorded and transcribed. 

Finally, you could interview the SME yourself and make sure they’re aware that the content will be transcribed and used for a white paper. 

Now… two common objections tend to pop up at this point.

The first is, “won’t outlining a plan for my white paper take even more time?”

Yes, this is true. Planning your white paper first will take a little more time. But it will actually save you time in the long run.

When you have a plan, you can get all project stakeholders in agreement before writing the full piece. So there won’t be any surprises for anyone when the draft is finished, saving you time-consuming and costly revisions. And as mentioned above, every minute planning saves ten minutes in execution. 

Which brings us onto the second objection…

You might be thinking that using these “quick fix” ideas to create a white paper fast will result in lower quality.

But this doesn’t have to happen.

Here, we’re talking about using shortcuts to gather the material for the paper. But the material itself should still be high quality. You usually won’t have to worry about this if you’re gathering data from SMEs or transcribing a webinar.

Time is our most valuable resource these days

And as a corporate marketer, your time is precious since you’re always up the walls. But you can save a lot of time when creating content like white papers by using one or more of the ideas above. These include:

1 – Repurposing from a webinar

2 – Using a Foundation or plan first

3 – Transcribing from SME interviews

Practicing ultra-slowly might have worked for Sergei Rachmaninov, but you probably don’t have time to slow down your writing. Use one of the above methods instead :). 

Your next step…

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How Do You Make Science Marketing Content Exciting?

How do you make science marketing content exciting?

I vividly remember having to sit through drab, boring seminars during my time as a PhD student. 

If you’ve ever attended some of the research presentations at scientific conferences, you can probably relate to this. And if you haven’t, take a break from the tradeshow exhibit and wander on over to the talks at your next conference.

You’ll find session after session of long-winded seminars where the presenter seems determined to bore the audience to tears.

Of course, they’re not all like this 

Some talks can be interesting, engaging, and informative.

But we can all agree that scientists aren’t the best at creating excitement or engagement during a talk.

I should know, I’m one of them! And yes, I’m a little guilty of this myself.

When I would give a scientific talk, I would normally launch into a detailed presentation of results and data… without showing why this was important or why the audience should listen to me.

I got a lot of yawns and folded arms. A lot of people would be texting or doing something else with their phones!

Eventually I figured out my mistake

I needed to open with why my talk mattered and why the audience should spend the next 15 to 20 minutes listening to me. I needed to give valuable information and share a story that appealed to the audience.

So what does this have to do with science marketing? 

How do you make science marketing content interesting?

Well, as a marketer responsible for promoting this technology, the burden falls on you to get your message across.

There is still a need to convey your story to an audience.

Technical people get bored like everyone else, and if they can’t relate to your presentation, they switch off. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. Technical buyers want and need to see technical information. This stuff is important because they want to know if your solution solves their problem.

But this is more important at the end of the sales cycle, when a buying decision needs to be made.

Don’t drown potential customers in technical data too early 

This will just turn them off. Lead generation and awareness at the beginning is better achieved with a combination of technical copywriting and persuasive storytelling.

And just to be clear, the persuasion I’m talking about is not the exaggerated hype and persuasion that you see in consumer copy. We’re not trying to play on emotional triggers here.

You don’t need to convince a technical or business buyer that they need a solution.

But you do need to tell them why they need YOUR solution

It’s possible to blend technical details with subtle persuasion in such a way that gets your message across… and shows how you can solve your prospects’ problems.

An example of this is a white paper

Sadly, many scientific tech companies see a white paper as an opportunity to regurgitate a pile of research data. Then, they throw it up on their website and call it a day.

But those who do this are leaving opportunity, leads, and revenue on the table.

Instead, a white paper should be seen as an opportunity to present a solution to a business or technical problem.

As an added bonus, it can position your company as a provider of valuable information. The benefits of this alone should be enough to convince you to incorporate a story-driven approach into your marketing.

But I’m selling complex scientific products. Will this work?

If you’re wondering if storytelling will work when you’re selling complex technology, you can rest easy. In fact, I’d argue that scientific products need a story even more than non-scientific products. 

Remember, scientists are people too. They have their own problems, needs, desires, and stories in their heads about why they do what they do.

It’s your job to understand these needs and these stories. And then use this info in your communications, so you can speak to them in a way that really captures their attention.  

Nothing captivates an audience like a great story

It doesn’t matter what industry you work in. To quote a recent Zoominfo article, “It can help your prospects and customers see your company as more than just a faceless corporate entity building complex products–instead, a collection of real people solving real-world problems”.

So remember this when crafting your next marketing campaign.

Leave the deep, technical information for later in your sales cycle. And try not to fall asleep at your next scientific conference :).

Your next step…

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