Whether you’re launching a new product or breathing life into an old one, you’re probably preparing a white paper to use as a lead generation tool. But choosing a topic that intrigues readers to learn more and move further down the sales funnel often challenges the marketing department and makes it difficult for the white paper writer to craft content.

Some departments will insist that the white paper cover every great feature of the product, and that’s where problems start. However, to be truly effective as a lead generation tool, a white paper needs to focus on the customer and the problems that would drive a customer to search for solutions.

[tweetthis]A white paper needs to focus on the customer and his/her problems.[/tweetthis]

The other issue that companies often face is that executives want to save money by rolling every single product into one white paper. While this might work for three very intertwined offerings, if the products solve completely different problems, it’s not going to resonate with its intended audience.

So how do you find the topics?

First, narrow it down to a product or a series of similar offerings that only differ by, say, the subscription model or processor and storage capacity. For this exercise’s purposes, we’re choosing Acme’s Widget 2.0 cloud-based ERP software, designed for small to medium-sized enterprises and easily integrated with other modules, like CRM and HR functions.

Next, wrangle the sales team in charge of selling the product. Ply them with food, and get them to tell you what customers and prospects are asking and what problems they’re trying to solve. You’re bound to get a great topic or two out of that. The sales team might say that their manufacturing customers are opening multiple locations and need software that is easily accessible and easy to install at their new plants. The customers might be asking for an HR module so their employees can electronically track their time, change their withholding amounts, or perform other self-service functions. And the customers’ sales teams might be asking for integration with their existing CRM or begging for a new one altogether.

Right there, from those three customer requests, is your white paper topic. Your white paper will focus on how your Widget 2.0 software solves these problems, and your next step is to either wrangle a writer in your marketing department or hire a writer who specializes in writing white papers.

Are you having trouble finding a writer? Contact me for a quote today.