“People trust people.” That’s a guiding mantra as you’re developing a content marketing strategy. To build trust with your audience, it can be helpful to identify a few go-to content authors to lend consistency to your strategy and nurture relationships with prospects.
But selecting your ideal subject matter experts isn’t the endgame. You have to actually gain buy-in from those experts and convince them to actively share their expertise to advance your content strategy.
How to Choose Your Subject Matter Experts
When you’re selecting subject matter experts, ask yourself these four questions:
- Does the person hold true expertise? Many people don’t have the industry chops to challenge the status quo and offer unique perspectives. You want someone with a trailblazer mentality who can give the “real scoop” that’s not already being discussed ad nauseam.
- Do they have time? I’ve found that subject matter experts need to dedicate up to five hours a month to the content creation process.
- Do they want to be published? You want someone who’s fascinated by learning how to become a thought leader and wants to invest in the experience.
- Do they have a following? Check potential subject matter experts’ social media presence. If they have strong followings, they’ll probably promote the content they byline. Your brand awareness — and possibly lead generation — will benefit from the added reach.
Convincing Leaders to Become Subject Matter Experts
Once you’ve pinpointed subject matter experts, you’ll need their buy-in. So, explain what’s in it for them, and tailor your request to their motivators.
For example, an executive with a general grasp of content marketing will understand the value of being published in publications that offer backlinks to fuel organic traffic and lead generation. That person shouldn’t be hard to convert.
However, an executive who thinks marketing is pointless will require more nudging. You’ll need to explain that content can be shared with prospects and used for nurturing and sales enablement (and, therefore, impact commissions).
For more ego-driven leaders, let them know that being subject matter experts will grow their personal brand and visibility. Shower them with appreciation and help them see that the world deserves to learn from their expert insights.
How to Make Content Marketing Simple for Subject Matter Experts
The experts you approached were most likely already strapped for time before you reached out. So, you’ll need to make the process as efficient as possible if you want them to actually contribute. Here are some tips:
1. Create a content strategy and editorial calendar
Documenting your content strategy allows you to show subject matter experts how their efforts are contributing to the company’s goals, which can be a motivator. And creating an editorial calendar can help everyone stay up to date on the status of each piece of content and the associated deadlines.
2. Interview them
In lieu of having subject matter experts spend the time writing articles, interview them and have a writer create the content based on the expert’s insights. Then, send the draft to the expert so they can provide feedback and request revisions.
3. Ask about their writing preferences
Nailing down each subject matter expert’s unique voice is essential. Pull together a quick quiz to narrow down their writing preferences. Ask for links to any previous content they’ve published; whether they’re willing to discuss controversial topics; which industry leaders, publications, or columns they enjoy reading; and whether there are phrases or terms they particularly love or hate. Asking these questions can pay off in fewer revisions.
4. Batch content
Combine questions for multiple pieces of content into one interview to save time, and store all the answers in a knowledge bank so you can keep experts’ insights organized and searchable for future content.
Subject matter experts could be the competitive “special sauce” your brand’s been missing. Tap into your organization’s knowledgeable, trustworthy leaders now to get the organic lift you’re missing.
Kelsey Raymond is the president of Intero Digital Content & PR Division, formerly Influence & Co. Intero Digital is a full-service digital marketing agency whose Content & PR Division helps businesses improve their lead generation, SEO, sales enablement, and thought leadership — all powered by content marketing and PR.