White papers are a staple of asset management marketing for a reason. They’re a great way to show off your firm’s intellectual firepower. However, the traditional white papers of today don’t command the audience of earlier days. They’re losing readers to other formats. This is why I suggest that investment marketers cannibalize their white papers.
When I say “cannibalize,” I mean breaking up your white paper for consumption in smaller pieces and different formats. Your output could be as short and fleeting as a tweet or as long as a bylined article that appears in a traditional printed magazine or newspaper. In this article, I discuss some of your options from shorter to longer.
Social media status updates
Your white papers can inspire social media status updates. Don’t limit yourself to straightforward come-ons for your white paper, such as “NEW white paper: Why Invest in XYZ Asset Class,” although such updates have their place. Here are some alternatives:
- Share an intriguing or catchy statistic or quote from your white paper
- Pose a question based on your white paper—starting a conversation will increase your audience’s engagement with your firm. You could even share a poll or survey relating to your white paper. This helps you learn more about your readers. It may also give you ideas for new content that will grow your audience.
- Share a compelling visual from your white paper—images play an increasingly important role in drawing readers’ eyes to your status updates on social media channels, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+. Images take center stage on Pinterest.
Email teasers and postcards
Email remains important, despite the spread of social media. You can boost your white paper’s readership by sending teasers to people who have agreed to join your email distribution. A teaser gives just enough information to stir your audience’s desire to learn more. Put the most effort into crafting a strong subject line. The body of your email should build on your subject line’s theme.
By the way, you may be able to recycle your email’s content into a medium that’s even more traditional than email: postcards. If your budget can handle it – and you have a list of postal addresses – consider printing your email’s teaser copy on the front of a postcard. The back could continue the teaser or go straight to explaining how to access your white paper.
Today’s readers have short attention spans, so blog posts based on your white paper may draw them in where a longer piece may not, especially if accessing the white paper requires registration or logging into a password-protected area of your website.
Where in your white paper should you look for blog posts? Sidebars, those boxes that set content off from the body of your paper are a logical starting point. That content already stands on its own.
Next, look for distinct chunks of your paper. Let’s say, for example, that your white paper gives five reasons to invest in XYZ asset class. You can turn each reason into a blog post.
You can also elaborate on topics raised by your white paper. Even the longest white papers can’t include every single supporting argument or intriguing example. These items can form the basis for a blog post. You can also reframe information for different audiences. For example, you can pluck information from a white paper aimed at institutional investors and rewrite it for financial advisors or individual investors. This may mean explaining technical terms that don’t faze sophisticated investors or adjusting your examples for the realities of your new audience’s portfolios.
Tip sheets, lists that give practical advice, are another way to recycle your white papers. For example, the “Why Invest in Asset Class XYZ” white paper can spawn tip sheets on “What to look for in an XYZ manager,” “Top Five Reasons to Invest in XYZ,” or “How to Recognize if XYZ Stocks Aren’t Right For You.”
White paper content takes on new life when it’s recycled into presentations. This meant PowerPoint presentations back when I was director of investment communications at an asset management firm. Today, this could also mean podcasts, videos, slidecasts, or webinars. These forms expand your appeal to audience members who prefer to learn through their ears, images, and interaction.
You can turn your white paper into an article that runs in consumer or trade publications. Some firms pay for the privilege, which makes your article an “advertorial” or “sponsored content.” Alternatively, you can pitch your article to an editor. If your article is accepted, there’s no cost to you. However, editors may decline your articles or edit them to suit the publication.
Articles written by your firm let you show your firm in a different light because, on average, they’re less objective than white papers. Your article about investing in XYZ asset class may weave in your firm’s products or other promotional information. In a white paper, in contrast, such information is typically confined to the very end, separated from the body of the white paper.
Also, articles typically carry an author’s name, while white papers are often, but not always, anonymous. The author’s byline lets you put a face on your company. This is valuable when authors can add insights based on their personal experience or company roles.
What have I missed?
If you can add tips for effectively cannibalizing your white papers, please chime in. I enjoy learning from my readers.
Susan Weiner, CFA, is the author of Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients, which is tailored to financial planners, wealth managers, investment managers, and the marketing and communications staff that supports them. Read her blog or follow her on Twitter, Google+ or the Investment Writing Facebook page.