A common piece of advice to neophyte writers is ‘write what you know.’ The idea behind it is that it’s easier to tell a story that feels realistic if you really understand what you’re writing about. While most commonly said to fiction writers, there’s value in it for those writing non-fiction as well. So if you’re looking to create compelling marketing content, you should ‘write what you know.’
And the way you do that is to get your subject matter experts (SME) involved.
An SME is someone in your organisation (you can have external SMEs, but let’s keep it internal for now) who is a specialist in something your organisation does. If you’re a bank, they could be a financial analyst. If you’re a computer security company, they might be your head of development. They’re the ones who really understand the stuff you’re selling to your customers. They can help inform you to create content that people want to read – the kind that people share on LinkedIn or in emails to colleagues.
We’re great writers here at Collective Content. We’re good at telling stories. But we’re not experts in your business. If you connect us with one or more of your SMEs, it will give us a much deeper understanding of the topic you want to cover in your marketing content. Whether it’s a blog, a product sheet, a briefing document, a whitepaper, an ebook or a script, an SME’s input can make it better.
Getting your SMEs involved in content
Consider a few key points when recruiting SMEs into your content marketing strategy:
Recruit to the topic: The first thing you need to determine is the topics you want to cover in your marketing content. Once you’ve decided, then you should match them to the appropriate SMEs in your business. Your CTO and your HR Director, for example, have very different areas of expertise.
Volunteered or volun-told: If you have several SMEs who could speak on the subject, ask for volunteers. This is a good time to point out that if they’re getting a byline on the piece or being quoted, this can raise their profile in the company and in the industry and be good for their personal brand. You’re likely to get better results from someone who wants to do it. Sometimes, though, you need to call on someone who isn’t so enthusiastic. That’s where the next point comes into play.
Make it a KPI: Your SMEs are probably very busy already. Adding in working on content marketing (internally or with an agency like Collective Content) just adds to the workload. It’s only reasonable that they get recognition for doing so. Their contributions should be considered when it’s time for annual reviews, bonuses and awards.
Determine how they will contribute: Next, you’ll need to figure out how involved your SME will be in the content. Some SMEs are very hands-on and will want to write blog entries or whitepapers themselves., which we’re able to then edit and refine into a great piece of content. More likely, they’ll want to either submit a written outline or discuss the topic of the piece with one or more of our writers or editors and we’ll create the document. You and your SME can then review it before making it public.
Set expectations: SMEs who haven’t worked on marketing content before might not understand the process. Let your SME know what you expect. Explain what will be happening, the timeline and what their deliverables will be. Make sure they understand that nothing will go public without them having a chance to review it. This is also the time to make sure they don’t plagiarise anything. It can happen. You can read about our plagiarism horror story if you like. Any writings they provide – whether as notes, rough drafts or outlines – should be original work or credit the source.
Getting SMEs involved in the creation of marketing content means you’re going to get real-world expertise into your material. It also builds credibility with your audience if an SME has a byline on the piece or is quoted in it. Even if the SME simply provides background to a writer, that can add detail and depth that makes your content memorable. If you’d like to talk about how you can enhance your marketing content by using SMEs, please get in touch. We’d be happy to help.