How Do We Use a White Paper Once We’ve Got One?

Once you’ve created your white paper, you might think that’s the end of the story. You’ll give or sell it to people who are interested in your industry or your company, and maybe you’ll get a few new customers. But things won’t go much beyond that.

Au contraire!

Don’t Waste All That White Paper Research!

Recycle bin from Arlington County

After all, everyone else does it (Photo courtesy Flickr user Arlington County)

Remember, if your white paper is of good quality, you’ve got a lot of research and information there. You may have test results and case studies too. Whether the paper is five pages long or fifty, you’ve collected a lot of facts on your subject, and made a lot of connections between those facts and the state of your industry or business. Why would you then let that information just sit there?

A white paper is a gold mine for you. Take a cue from the environmental and conservation world, where objects are recycled to new uses once their original use is finished. If the same objects can be re-used in several ways in a recycling program, why can’t the information in your white paper? And you don’t even have to retire the white paper to recycle!

Or, as it’s called more properly in the information world: repurpose.

Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose

Some businesses “repurpose” their white papers simply by adding them to an archive on their website, from which customers can download them when needed. Or the business keeps all its white papers on a site from which people can continue to buy them. And all the while, older papers fall down the list, and may not get much notice after the first flurry of purchasing.

But that’s not really repurposing. That’s using different ways to get the exact same white paper into people’s hands. That’s valuable, too, but you can make far more use of your white paper than that.

Case Studies

You may have have used case studies in the white paper. These can be pulled out and used separately as well. Did you use data from your own satisfied customers to demonstrate the good results your product or service can achieve? Collect the data from each separate customer, do more interviews with the customer so you have some good quotations and perhaps further information to use, and write up a case study.

Presentations

If you used graphics in your white paper, you can pull these out and reframe the paper into a presentation. Add just a caption or short line to each graphic, and as each one comes up when you’re doing the presentation, talk to your audience about the rest of the information connected with that graphic. Or you could use that information and find other graphics to use with it.

And remember, the presentation doesn’t necessarily just have to be a repeat of what was said in the white paper. You can make presentations based on some of the information in the paper, but don’t need to use everything. You can pull out different bits of information for presentations in different contexts.

Blogs, Social Media, & Websites

social network logos

Use the white paper on social media (Photo courtesy Flickr user ryanvanetten)

You can use information or even small sections of the white paper in your business blog posts. Or you could do the process in reverse: serialize your information in several blog posts, and then collect them all into a white paper.

Meanwhile, smaller discrete chunks might be updates in social media like Twitter, Google Plus, or Facebook. You could post bits of information about results, and ask your followers to tell their own stories. As you get a response from your readers and followers, you could end up with even more data about the success of your product or service! And some of what you hear in response to your posts and updates could provide the seeds of other white papers in the future.

And don’t forget that you can pull out material from your white paper to use as separate pages on your own website. They could be information pages, but might also lead to more. If your product has been especially useful in school contexts, even though it’s not explicitly a school-related product, create a separate page that talks about schools. This could open up a whole new marketing niche.

Podcasts & Videos

These might be an extension of the presentations mentioned above. As long as what you said in the presentation will allow a listener to understand what’s going on, recording the presentation for a podcast on your website would work. Or you could videotape the entire presentation.

You might create several shorter videos or podcasts as “how tos,” if the information in your white paper lends itself to that sort of approach. Or you could use different sections of the white paper for other short videos; e.g., if you touch on the safety of your product, you could use the information to create a safety video.

Other Sellable or Marketing Materials

It might be that you’ve just given readers a snapshot of your industry in your white paper. Do you have enough research and extra information to expand into an e-book? Perhaps the white paper was a kind of “survey” of things, and you can go into more detail in a larger work. You could also condense the most interesting points in the white paper and create brochures or ads for your business or individual products.

Give Your White Paper Renewed Life

Unidentified Flower Bud

New projects from old! (Photo courtesy Flickr user ingridtaylar)

When you’ve created a white paper, that doesn’t have to be the end of things. You can repurpose the material in the paper to use in countless different ways. And you won’t necessarily be just handing readers the same information over and over again. Some readers really will want to concentrate on only one aspect of your paper topic, while other topics from your paper can be expanded so readers get even more information.

A white paper is very valuable in its own right. But think of it as the foundation document for a multitude of other creative materials and projects. When used in this way, it can multiply its value many, many times over.