At Influence & Co., we help companies with lots of knowledge to publish content that is bylined by their key leaders.
These subject matter experts (SMEs) are probably some of the busiest people at the companies we work with. They are worried about big-picture stuff like growing their business, predicting where their industry is heading, finding ways to make their team more productive, and so much more. They need help with the actual process of creating content, so they work with us — content marketing experts — to get the job done.
If you're a business leader yourself or work closely with one, this description is probably hitting pretty close to home for you.
It has been our experience that while it is hard for subject matter experts to make time for content creation, the value in sharing their unique insights is what makes their content truly stand out and rise above the noise.
When we decide to pursue a particular topic, why is the thought leader's depth of experience and expertise in that topic so important? Well, the truth is, content is far more powerful when it's humanized and there's a name and a face attached.
Yes, your content creators can research and write a perfectly useful, informative article, blog post, or whitepaper on their own for you to slap your name on. But in the end, what readers want are stories from real people they can relate to. We all prefer to be spoken to directly by a real human being when we're perusing our email newsletters and the articles that pop up in our social feeds. Generic case studies or newsy reports that could have been written by anyone — perhaps any of a dozen or more researchers, a conglomerate of corporate subject matter experts, a college intern with a great knack for Googling, or even a bot — are not going to have the desired effect. The human elements needed to draw audience members in and capture their attention simply can't be manufactured.
While this is true for all of the content your company publishes, it is especially true for guest-contributed content. Publication editors want to hear from you, in your own words, because they know that is what their readers crave: those personal lessons a business leader has learned along his or her unique road to success. Staff reporters can deliver the news and sometimes even spin their own opinions into the story. But no one else can tell your story the way you can.
You know what else makes for compelling, high-quality content? Actionable takeaways that your readers can use.
Seems simple, yet it isn't uncommon to get caught up on what your takeaways should be and confused about how to provide actionable advice around certain points. Don't make it so hard for yourself!
By focusing on your unique insights, highlighting the experiences that have gotten you to where you are today, and sharing what you've learned in the process, you give your content creators so much to work with. Don't worry about what your takeaways should be; instead rely on the guidance of your content creators and subject matter experts. Answer their questions and their follow-up questions. Be as specific and precise as possible so that they can use your input to craft the actionable takeaways readers crave. They know best how to do this, so just let them take the wheel and mold what you've provided into what your audience needs.
In reality, content isn't anything without unique insights and stories to shape it. These insights are really nothing more than your thoughts, opinions, views, feelings, and ideas about topics that are both relevant to the audience you want to speak to and that give your audience a peek into the way you think about your particular industry.
This is what comprises your subject matter expertise -- and, as daunting as sharing that knowledge might sound, your own personal experiences and stories will always resonate more with your audience members than generic buzzwords or trending ideas they can easily Google for themselves.
Why? Because it's your journey. And the mistakes you've made along the way to success and the lessons you've gleaned from those experiences are what allow readers into your headspace. There, they can learn from your priceless, unique insights, and you stand a greater chance of staying top of mind with them over the long run.