Whitepapers are considered a valuable tool in any digital marketing arsenal and can dramatically strengthen brand authority. This long-form content provides a thorough overview of a relevant topic, typically providing between six and eight pages of well-researched information.
Like any content, whitepapers call for great attention to detail. The proper tone and information should come together to provide clear value for the reader. A clear, purposeful piece is best achieved through a structured content creation process, as outlined below:
Step 1: Kick-Off Call
Before crafting a whitepaper, the writer and all other involved parties must thoroughly understand the purpose of the content. This can be communicated during a kick-off call, which also delves into the topic, the preferred writing style, the design, and the overarching timeline for the project. Following this important discussion, the writer should hold an in-depth understanding of the client’s whitepaper goals and plans.
Step 2: Research & Outline Creation
After the kick-off call, the writer commences with extensive research. Additionally, the writer may craft an initial outline, meant to act as a blueprint for the remainder of the project. Some clients create their own outlines in advance, in hopes that the writer will stick closely to the specified format unless changes are discussed. If the writer is responsible for supplying the framework, this stage may last up to four days.
Step 3: Client Reviews the Outline
If the writer drafts the outline, the client will need to check it carefully to ensure that the overarching vision for the piece is accurately captured. For outlines provided by the client, this step can either be skipped or modified to include any adjustments suggested by the writer.
Step 4: Content Creation
During this key phase, the writer builds upon the outline and previously conducted research to develop a strong first draft. The timeline for this draft will largely depend on the scope and the technicality of the piece.
Step 5: Client Review of First Draft
Once an initial draft has been submitted, the client should review it thoroughly, taking notes on any discrepancies that might require adjustment during the first round of edits. Top concerns addressed may include the tone and general flow of the piece. Fact-checking is also critical to ensure that any evidence underlying the content is accurate.
Ultimately, a thorough review of the first draft allows the client, writer, and all other parties involved to avoid undergoing several rounds of revision.
Step 6: First Round Edits
During the first round of edits, the writer aims to bring the content even more in line with the client’s vision — especially in light of clarifications offered during the initial review. The vast majority of edits occur at this time.
Step 7: Final Client Approval
After the writer has edited the first draft, the client should thoroughly review these changes. If necessary, an additional round of revisions may be requested. Often, however, the comprehensive nature of the initial editing process makes it possible to stick with just one round of revisions.
Step 8: Design
The format and design of the whitepaper are just as important as the content itself. Ideally, however, the design process will not commence until the copy has been finalized. That being said, design considerations can be discussed as early as the kick-off call. If such preferences are made known in advance, the writer can strategically craft content within the scope of the intended design.
As with content creation, the design process generally involves an initial version followed by one or two rounds of edits. Once the final design has been approved, the whitepaper is ready for publication.
Ready to move forward with the ultimate whitepaper? Look to the experts from Zero Gravity Marketing for guidance. We’re happy to help you develop a strategic plan to position your brand for success. Contact us today to learn more.