Technical Writer’s Dilemma: White Paper Vs. Blog Post

Your company’s technical writers dwell in a different universe than your content marketing team. Their world is one of logic, detailed descriptions, and emotionally detached accounts of how your products work. White papers, certainly, would be in most technical writers’ job description. But what about blog posts? Are there certain situations where the white paper vs. blog post debate needs to be had? Should they expand their range to include blog writing on a regular basis?

Our answer is a resounding “yes.” Here’s why.

Technical Writers Have a Broad Range of Subject Matter Expertise

Technical writers might not be engineers, developers, doctors, or chemists. But they wouldn’t be in the position they’re in without a wealth of knowledge about what your company does.

White papers require a depth of expertise in the subject matter they cover. Expert technical writers do extensive research to write them. By the time they finish a white paper, their research broadens their knowledge of the topic.

What they might lack, though, is the knack of persuasion. Content marketing requires writers to frame their work to convince and convert their target audience.

Broaden Your Marketing and Technical Writers’ Horizons

Effective content planning takes advantage of the full range of everyone’s talents. It might take a little work on your part, but if you encourage your technical writers to expand their horizons, they can put out both blog posts and white papers that position your company as a thought leader in its field.

Their expertise lends itself to long-form content. Today’s skeptical audiences demand that a business they deal with has a complete command of its work. For that reason, blog posts have evolved from the last decade’s 400-word fluff pieces into 1,500 to 2,500-plus-word deep dives.

Pair Technical Writers with Marketing Writers for Long-Form Blog Posts

We advise you to take full advantage of content collaboration to expand the range of both your marketing and technical writing staff. It’s not that most technical writers have never written a persuasive paper. They might be rusty, but they likely had to write a thesis paper or dissertation during their university days.

Pairing them with a marketing writer can revive that persuasive angle in their writing. Instead of convincing a panel of academics, though, they need to learn that it’s the company’s prospects who they need to convert.

That collaboration can expand your marketing staff’s technical knowledge, too, making them more effective in creating convincing copy. With a content marketing platform on which they can communicate in real-time, they can create blog posts that provide the technical details your prospects’ decision-makers need to decide to do business with your brand.

Bring Content Writers into the Planning Process for White Papers

Although white papers are primarily informational and extremely detailed, there is an element of persuasion involved. In contrast to instruction manuals and ingredients descriptions, a white paper’s ultimate purpose is to move prospects further along in the sales funnel.

Instead of only assigning technical writers to the task, involve content marketing writers in the planning and creation processes. With their grasp of persuasive language and storyline arcs, they can stay within the traditional parameters of a white paper (third-person voice and a mostly objective tone), yet drive the narrative toward a decision to engage.

Keep your marketing writers involved throughout the white paper creation process. Their advice can help your technical writers make the material more readable. Whether it’s including bullet points, shortening paragraphs, or breaking up long chunks of text with visuals and interactive components, your marketing team can be an invaluable asset to your technical writing team.

Having likely come from the field of academia, technical writers often write in jargon and paragraphs that never seem to end, usually riddled with passive-voice verbs. If you’ve ever written or edited academic papers, you know exactly what I mean.

However, since white papers usually target company decision-makers in various departments, using language that breaks down technical terms into easy-to-understand words is a better strategy. Even formal writing is much more compelling when you break it up into smaller paragraphs and use active-voice verbs. Your content marketing writers’ advice can help your technical writing team keep their writing on track to succeed.

There’s only one exception to the “lose-the-jargon” rule. If you’re targeting an account-based marketing piece to your prospect’s subject matter experts, your technical writers can add key details to personalize it to those experts’ needs.

Repurpose White Papers and Blog Posts for Extra Reach

While we would agree with white paper guru Gordon Graham that a white paper should be as well-researched as a scholarly article in an academic journal, we respectfully disagree that a blog post can be “even a rant.” At least, an effective one cannot. Research might not be as thorough or the language as formal as that in a white paper, but blog posts still must back up their claims with facts and logic.

Repurpose White Papers in Other Content

white paper vs. blog post - repurposing white papers

That makes white papers excellent candidates for repurposing into a series of blog posts, videos, or even podcasts. White papers represent a significant investment of time and money. Putting them to new use gets the maximum bang for every buck you spend on them.

This strategy doesn’t only give you extra marketing mileage. It can be a powerful way to give new audience members an extra nudge down the marketing funnel. When you promote the blog posts that you create from your white paper among your top-of-the-funnel audience, you can pique their interest. If you include a link to download the white paper itself at the end of the blog post, it can turn new audience members into loyal subscribers – and even customers.

Expand Blog Posts and Videos into White Papers

On the other hand, your technical writing team can take some of your top-performing blog posts and videos, add some extra research and detail, and turn them into valuable white papers.

Then, after your technical writers finish the white paper, promote it among the audience segment that engaged with the original blog post. Chances are excellent that some of those readers will crave more extensive information about the topic. If the white paper provides actionable information that they need to solve a major problem, they’ll be likely to investigate what your company can offer.

There should be no dilemma for your technical writing team. When they team up with your marketing writers, you’ll have content for every audience segment, no matter where they lie on the sales funnel.

But to coordinate these teams, you need a content platform that can organize the process from planning to publication. And, it should have a content analytics component so you can track the results.

DivvyHQ is a comprehensive platform on which your writers can collaborate on, plan, schedule, write, publish, automate, and analyze their content. If you’d like to see what it can do for your technical and content marketing teams, get in touch for your 14-day free trial today.