You get your team to complete a creative brief, conduct interviews with subject matter experts, find compelling research to support your argument and you think you have a decent draft. However, when you show the copy to your team, they tell you that you missed the mark when it came to the white paper’s message. Now, you practically have to start from scratch … and the deadline is fast approaching.
Chances are you didn’t ask your team – especially the person leading the project – to approve an outline of the white paper before you began writing. Here are a few reasons why you should always create an outline when you’re working on a substantial piece of content:
- An outline keeps you on track, as you can refer back to it as you create the white paper. This will help you focus on the most important messages.
- Getting approval on an outline ensures that you and your team are on the same page (excuse the pun) before you begin writing. This can save you a ton of time in revisions, keep your stress levels to a minimum and allow you to publish the white paper much faster.
- An outline makes it easier to write a white paper, as you can fill in the blanks as you go and say “goodbye” to writer’s block!
What to Include in Your White Paper’s Outline
You don’t need to have every last detail figured out in advance when you create an outline. One of the easiest things to do is use the white paper’s introduction – which we talked about in lesson three – as the basis for your outline. It contains key information, such as your target audience, their top challenge, a description of the solution and the white paper’s objective.
If you want to go a step further, you can list every section that you will include in the white paper and write a few bullet points about each section. For example, you can mention the key messages for each section, include the names of people you want to quote, cite statistics you plan to use, etc. Then, submit the outline to the person who will be signing off on the copy.
I believe that creating an outline can save you a ton of time and work as you develop B2B content. For me, an outline is a “must” when working on a longer piece of content or something that needs approval. If you have the authority to write and publish content without getting approval, then feel free to skip the outline. However, an outline is a great tool for staying on track.
What about you? Do you think outlines are valuable or an extra unnecessary step? Please share your thoughts below. If you have any other comments or questions about this lesson, please post them in the comments section below or message me directly.
Do You Want to Know More About Writing Better White Papers?
This post is part of a series that outlines how to write white papers, as well as how to promote them to reach the widest possible audience. If you would like this series emailed to you for easy reference, please sign up for the No More Boring White Papers! e-course.