Leverage In-House Expertise to Improve Content Creation

By: Steven Dickens| - Leave a comment

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Content, content, content — it’s all about content. As we all know in our personal lives, we research extensively online before we buy. Remember the last time you bought anything over $200? You comparison-shopped, read reviews and checked out what others were saying about the item before you clicked “add to cart.” The same happens in the B2B world: As much as 57 percent of a buyer’s journey is done online before they even contact a representative of your company, according to CEB Global.

Content creation becomes paramount in a world where clients are informed or have made their decision before engaging with a sales rep. In the past, your sales teams had time to influence a client, get them to understand your value proposition, highlight unique selling points and explain how your offering surpasses the competition. Today, your influence must present early, starting in the “discover” and “learn” stages, when clients are learning about potential solutions to the issues they’re grappling with.

This shift puts huge pressure on your traditional sources of content creation. How do your marketing team and content managers create the volume of content required to influence their target cohorts?

To put it simply, they can’t. You need your subject matter experts (SMEs) to become your marketing content creators.

SMEs as Content Creation Gurus

If buying decisions are made by well-informed buyers who have progressed through nearly 60 percent of their buyer’s journey online, you need your sales, pre-sales and product managers to get to the clients digitally. Increasingly, this means leveraging social media channels and publishing digital content like podcasts, video and blog articles.

There’s also great value in content created by the thought leaders within your organization. Buyers want to hear from experts. They don’t want uber-polished marketing content — they want shared expertise, detailed insight and authentic solutions brought to them by the people who are driving innovation.

How do you do this as marketing department? You need to engage your SMEs to become brand advocates.

Making It Happen

I recently presented at AMPlify, the Employee Advocacy and Engagement Conference, on this very topic. The main theme of my presentation was how marketing teams can develop authentic sources of content within the organization and cultivate SMEs to become content creators. Here are my five top tips for achieving this goal.

  1. Use the airplane story. You need to coach your key executives and SMEs to embrace social media. I use a simple story to ease their minds. Imagine you’re on a trans-Atlantic flight, and you look over to see the person sitting next to you is from your largest competitor, your mortal corporate enemy. You strike up a conversation and find out they have the same job as you. In this situation, you’d instinctively know what and what not to discuss. Take this same logic into the digital realm as you blog and tweet.
  2. Keep it simple, stupid. Social media can be confusing — so many platforms, tools and acronyms. If you want to engage SMEs, make it simple. Ask them to write a blog or LinkedIn post. Get them to send you the words via email; WordPress and the many other platforms are unknown entities for many people and can make a simple task seem daunting.
  3. Make it easy for them. Find ways to break down the task, and make it easy to consume. For example, “three tweets a day” is an easy mantra to remember, and it will make it easier for the newbie to carry it out and give them short-term goals to achieve. When it comes to blogging, many people find it hard to create 600 to 900 words from scratch. Give them a structure, provide bullets to expand on, or even interview them to help lay out the concept.
  4. Show them value. “Why should I do this?” is an obvious response from a subject matter expert. Have facts at hand, and offer help and guidance. But above all, show them the personal value they’ll get. Maybe it’s better exposure internally, the ability to engage clients directly or simply the opportunity to have their opinions heard outside the company.
  5. Promise them glory. Everyone has an ego. Explain to your SMEs how social media and blogging will increase their eminence and improve the way they’re perceived in the marketplace.

Your internal SMEs are your greatest untapped resource when it comes to authentic content to inform your buyer. Make engaging and energizing them your top priority, and watch your sales and engagement levels soar.

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About The Author

Steven Dickens

Cloud Offering Manager, IBM

Steven Dickens is a social media savvy, marketing, product and offering management professional working within the WorldWide organization based in New York, responsible for leading the Global Technology Services mainframe cloud offering. Steven is responsible for the Cloud Managed Services for z Systems portfolio. In his role, he serves as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in advocating, evangelizing and championing clients deploying mainframe services in a multi-tenant, off premise delivery model. He has spent nearly 20 years in the information technology industry, with considerable experience in both hardware and software platforms in specialist sales and client management roles for organizations such as CA, HP and latterly for IBM. Steve also serves as the chairman of the marketing committee for the Open Mainframe Project, a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project.

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