We all know that our best source of really great B2B thought leadership content is our internal gurus. They know the market inside out, meet customers regularly and are all over the problems those customers face (and the ways we can solve them).
People buy from people, so by publishing the innovative ideas and opinions of your experts, you’re impressing your unique brand on your target audience.
But it’s often hard to pin the right people down for the time it takes to create great content – and we can’t ask them to create it for us. A top expert might know their field, but they aren’t necessarily the right one to translate specialist smarts into persuasive content.
Read more: The value of long form content marketing
Why is good thought leadership hard?
Your in-house experts are busy people – in constant demand from customers, your executive and sales teams. They simply don’t have the time to invest in developing the content you need (nor should they).
Plus, while they might be perfectly at ease presenting at international conferences, they’re often less comfortable putting pen to paper. In past lives, they may have agonised over university theses or white papers. Add to this their sense of perfection – and maybe a lack of confidence in their ability to express their ideas in writing: what will their peers think?
How to make it easier
Over the years we’ve developed an effective strategy for ‘bottling’ great content from subject matter experts (SMEs) in the shortest possible time, developing content they’re happy to put their name to.
It involves five simple steps:
- Pick an ‘opinionated’ SME with strong ideas or an alternative view on a topic core to your offering.
- Arrange a 30-minute conversation with a seasoned content producer (ideally one who has a track record in the industry you’re working with), who will ask the right questions. You should attend too, to guide in terms of your marketing/content strategy.
- During the interview, agree on the fundamental hypothesis, three main points and the conclusion, which should include a ‘non-salesy’ call to action.
- A good writer will reflect the conversation, adopt the author’s ‘voice’ and fill in any gaps – such as background or support from current research. If done well, the first draft will be very close to the final copy!
- Give your SME a chance to review the piece so they feel reassured it reflects their thinking before you publish.
Outside marketing, this process is called ‘ghostwriting’ – and we’ve found it’s the best way of developing truly valuable content from those within your company who are best able to deliver it.
Read more: Why identity matters for B2B marketing
Success breeds success
Once you’ve developed and published your expert’s article with minimum effort on their part, they’ll be delighted to have their work ‘out there’ – especially when they get positive feedback from the market and peers via social media. The process will make them ready to do it again – even suggesting topics and angles for new content themselves.
Meanwhile, your other thought leaders will see how easy it is and want to get published too. At that point, help them all to conceive ideas for potential new content, develop an editorial calendar – and your content ball will be rolling!
If the valuable ideas of your thought leaders simply won’t fit into a short article, learn why there’s an essential place for long-form in your content marketing plan!