From content creation’s perspective, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are the trove of content treasure.
As a marketer, you know your company’s products and services, but you may not be completely immersed in the nuts and bolts of the technical side. After all, you are the marketer, you know about outreach, you’re not necessarily the product expert. To create relevant and educational content, you will occasionally need subject matter experts.
Examples of subject matter experts (SMEs)
At a zoo, caretakers of the animals are the subject matter experts. Their in-depth knowledge of animals provide interesting and fun resources for content marketing efforts. At a boutique hat store, the hat maker is the subject matter expert who can share the design elements and creative journey of making a hat. For many technology companies, product or design engineers are their subject matter experts and can share with marketers the details needed to create interesting content.
Working with SMEs
Some content marketers are very lucky. They work with subject matter experts who are enthusiastic about sharing their experience and knowledge. These SMEs are willing to blog, produce webinars, create videos and do whatever it takes to help evangelize the company’s products and services. If you work with these type of subject matter experts, you are in content heaven! Many subject matter experts (especially engineers) are busy, overworked, even shy and self-conscious. They don’t always like the limelight. You may need to do some work to motivate and entice them to be part of your content marketing efforts.
We tend to ask SMEs to write blogs or create content without explaining why we are asking them to help. It’s important to help them understand how their contributions tie into to the overall content marketing and business objectives. Describe clearly how this help will drive more leads or build awareness for the company’s products and services. Even those SMEs that only want to focus on doing their work will understand that driving demand for their products and services will keep their project funded and important to the company.
Provide specific instructions on what you want them to do
Before engaging, have a plan of what you want them to do and how you will interact. Do you want them to write a blog on a bi-weekly basis? Do you want them to do a product demo? Being prepared is key. Of course, you may need to adjust your plan along the way. You may want them to do a demo. At the end of the conversation, both of you may discover it’s better to do a video. Don’t go to your SME without any thoughts or ideas, but also be ready to adjust those plans.
Help them along the way
You’re trying to get your SMEs to help you so that you can help them. While spending time explaining the help that you want from them, learn all that you can about their concerns and issues. That will enable you to do a better job helping them and the company, and will lead to better interactions and content. If they have problems writing blogs, can you have them verbally describe concepts or give you a rough draft that you can tune into finished content? If they don’t have time, can they suggest someone on their team to help you? Also, if they feel that no one reads their content, can you do something to boost or promote their content? Find out where they need help and remove the barriers for them.
Everyone likes to be appreciated. Send a thank-you note or a little gift card (or cookies!) to them. Let their managers and the sales team know about their contribution and how they help the company’s marketing outreach. Create opportunities to recognize them and make them feel that they are appreciated.
SMEs are your biggest assets
From content creation’s perspective, SMEs are the trove of content treasure. They have in-depth knowledge about the products. They have untold stories about design, product usage and customer engagement. If you know your audience well, you can easily turn their tidbits, observations and fun facts into something that you can share. The trick is to work with them to extrapolate the information and translate it into something that your audience will appreciate. Find the treasure trove in your company.