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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