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The White Paper Plan

by | Oct 9, 2016 | Collateral, White Papers, Content Marketing | 0 comments

This is the second installment in a three-part series on white paper planning. To read the first article in the series before proceeding with this one, click here. You’ll find a link to the final article in the series at the end of this post.

If you’d like to get the whole series – and many additional tips – in a single PDF, click here.

The White Paper Plan

In my previous post, we discussed a few of the reasons why many white paper projects fail. And I singled out what I believe is the most frequent of those reasons: inadequate planning.

In this article we’ll look at a solution for that problem.

That solution is the White Paper Plan.

As its name applies, a White Paper Plan (or “WPP”) is a plan for creating a white paper. It is a document agreed to by all project stakeholders, which governs the development of a white paper.

You can think of a WPP as a “constitution” for your white paper’s development. Like any constitution, it must be ratified by those it will govern. But once ratified, any subsequent decisions affecting the project must be in accordance with it.

Benefits of a White Paper Plan

By taking just a little time at the beginning of your white paper project to develop and gain approval of a solid WPP, you’ll gain a number of important benefits that will greatly increase your chances of reaching the goals you want to achieve.

First, developing a White Paper Plan with your chosen writer helps you – the marketing manager in charge of the project – engage with that writer and define the project. If you’ve never developed a white paper before, this planning process will help you understand your responsibilities. Then, the plan itself will help you manage the project successfully and avoid nasty surprises and delays.

Second, developing a WPP also helps your writer engage with you, understand the goals you want to achieve, and assist you in defining the project.

Once approved, the WPP helps manage the project. It will even allow your writer to take the reins and manage the project for you, if you wish. And it will help your writer deliver the project on time and to your satisfaction by speeding key processes and minimizing problems and rework.

Finally, creating and adhering to a White Paper Plan greatly increases the chances your white paper campaign will exceed your expectations and please your management. An approved WPP helps you keep your white paper project on track, resolve conflicts and minimize risks.

What a White Paper Plan Does

Basically, a White Paper Plan performs four basic functions.

First, it defines the scope of your white paper project. This includes defining your marketing objectives for the project, the team that will work on the project, and the basic parameters (style, topic, scope, etc.) of the white paper itself.

Second, the WPP provides a constant and consistent frame of reference for the development team throughout the development process. As mentioned earlier, a WPP acts as a constitution for your white paper project, keeping the project on the agreed course and all participants on the same page.

Third, a WPP resolves differences before development begins. Having the objective, topic, scope and other top-level details of your white paper clearly defined and agreed to by all stakeholders – before development begins – heads off arguments before they can occur. This reduces distractions later in the project, and minimizes, if not eliminates, mid-project scope changes and their associated scrap and rework.

Fourth, a WPP makes for smoother communication among team members. Having a strong WPP in place insures that everyone involved in the project shares the same understanding of the project’s scope and objectives. This greatly streamlines the interview, writing and review processes for the writer.

Next Time: How to Create a White Paper Plan

In my next post, we’ll look at a proven, 7-step process for quickly creating an effective white paper plan. To proceed to that post, click here.

Take-away Points

1.  A White Paper Plan is an effective solution for the most frequent cause of white paper failure: inadequate planning.

2. A White Paper Plan performs four basic functions:

a. Defines the scope of your white paper project

b. Provides a consistent frame of reference for your white paper development team

c. Resolves differences before development begins

d. Facilitates smooth communication among team members

3. A White Paper Plan provides four important benefits:

a. Helps the marketing manager engage with a writer and define the project

b. Helps the white paper writer engage with the marketing manager to help define the project

c. Helps the marketing manager and the writer manage the project

d. Greatly improves the chances your white paper campaign will achieve its goals and exceed expectations

Next Steps

Want help planning and crafting white paper that won’t fail?  Call CopyEngineer at (+39) 011 569 4951. Or email me at

If you would like to read a more detailed version of this complete series, with plenty of tips for making your White Paper Plan – and thus your next white paper – a more certain success, sign-up for my free, monthly e-letter, Technical Response. When you do, you’ll receive a copy of my new special report:
How to Plan a White Paper: A Proven 7-Step Process for Minimizing Headaches and Maximizing ROI.

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