Updated April 8, 2020: A SaaS white paper is one of the best ways to demonstrate your expertise, while at the same time providing useful information to prospective clients. You’ve probably thought about adding a few to your website, but may not know how to write a white paper.
The writing process outlined below covers every step—from identifying your audience to writing to distribution. By following this process, you can create a professional SaaS white paper that positions you as a true thought leader.
10 steps on how to write a white paper for SaaS
1. Know your audience
When thinking about how to write a white paper, the most important step is making sure you know who you’re writing for. What does their job entail? Think about their pain points or aspirations and how your SaaS white paper can help them. Also consider any misconceptions or biases they may have towards the topic.
2. Strategize and plan your SaaS white paper
Sit down and brainstorm ideas for your white paper. What is it that your prospective clients want to know? Understand where this piece of content will fit in the buying funnel. Analyze keyword ranking to find opportunities for SEO. Figure out who you will interview and where the rest of your information will come from.
3. Narrow your topic
Figuring out how to write a white paper is all about landing on a great topic. Prospective clients generally prefer topics that are more specific. Topics that are too broad dilute the overall effectiveness of the information. And don’t try to cram everything into one white paper. Instead, focus on the most important and relevant points.
4. Offer a unique point of view in your SaaS white paper
This might seem like a no-brainer, but when thinking about how to write a white paper, you need to provide a fresh perspective from other, similar SaaS white papers. Think about how to demonstrate your expertise in a way that encourages conversation. Often this unique point of view can come from the subject matter experts you chose to interview. Be sure to create a fully fleshed-out content brief so everyone is on the same page.
5. Designate research and writing time
Set aside specific chunks of time for research and writing. Turn off your phone and email so you can focus without interruptions. If you’re doing interviews, schedule them at least a day apart so you have time to prepare and digest afterward.
6. Write and edit the SaaS white paper
With your interview and research notes, you can create an outline. Don’t skip this step—it will help you stay more focused and save you time in the long run. Then you’re ready to flesh out your SaaS white paper. Finally, edit the paper for logic, key messages, grammar and style.
7. Coordinate reviews and approvals
Reviews and approvals always take longer than you might think so make sure there is enough time set aside in the project timeline. Before the project even starts, you should determine exactly who will be reviewing and approving the SaaS white paper. Aim for no more than 3 stakeholders. Set firm deadlines for review and approval cycles.
8. Draft the landing page, registration form, thank you email and thank you page
Depending on how you will promote the white paper, you may need to write a blog post, introductory email or landing page. While you’re waiting for feedback on the white paper, you can tackle these key pieces of marketing collateral.
9. Design the white paper
Appearances matter. Get your designer to create a professional and memorable white paper design that is fun and easy to read—and plays into your branding.
10. Develop a distribution strategy
A SaaS white paper isn’t valuable unless the right people see it, download it and read it. Think about how you will use owned channels (like your website, social media and email) and external channels (like conferences, advertising and public relations) to get your white paper in front of people.
You’ve done the hard work of writing a white paper that will resonate with your audience and add value. Now you’re ready to make sure you cite your sources properly.
This is the sixth post in a 9-part series called the Ultimate Guide to Writing a White Paper for B2B SaaS.
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