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Posted August 30, 2017
Posted August 30, 2017
“Thought leadership” has become one of the most hotly pursued objectives in the marketing world, although the concept itself is hardly new. As marketers, we build our brands’ thought leadership by sharing material knowledge and insights through our various customer communications. Where will these groundbreaking insights come from? Look no further than your company’s own subject matter experts (SMEs).
When some marketers think about thought leaders, some pretty big names come to mind: Google, Amazon, American Express, and other superstar enterprises. But true thought leadership lies well within the reach of any brand in any industry, and the benefits make it worth the effort:
As a group of people holding all the material knowledge, all the expertise, all the insights you need to establish your brand as a thought leader, SMEs educate far more than they expect. They know more about your products and services — the problems they solve, how they work, and what makes them special — than just about anyone. They speak at conferences, and they publish in industry journals. They’re influencers who may already have enthusiastic followings. They’re your company’s own subject matter experts.
When you align your SMEs with your marketing strategy, you give your followers the chance to learn from the best of the best. You tap into your organization’s own “brain trust” to root out the insights that will help you make a deep and lasting impression on your target audience.
In an ideal world, we’d borrow a subject matter expert from her department for a couple of hours, sit her down at a computer, and let her spin her ideas into content marketing gold.
Now let’s talk reality. The first major challenge is that your SMEs are busy — really busy. Their primary obligation is doing the things they get paid for (research, designing products, delivering services, etc.), and contributing to content is often near the bottom of their priority lists.
The second challenge is that SMEs are (typically) not marketers. They can wax eloquent all day long about a product’s features, (how it’s built, what it does, how we made it better/faster/stronger, etc.), but sometimes they’re a bit fuzzy on how those features translate into benefits for the customer. They are not always the best at turning technical jargon into user-friendly word speak.
Knowing ahead of time that these challenges will pop up, will prepare you to be strategic and purposeful in the way you work with your subject matter experts. You must show respect for their time and expertise, by your making our process as efficient as possible, and by creating content that’s worthy of their insights.
As you design a plan for working with your subject matter experts, here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
As we all know, one insightful article does not a thought leader make. You need to create a steady stream of content that highlights our SMEs’ material knowledge and insights, if you’re going to make thought leadership work for your brand.
Here are a few things to keep in mind, as you put the building blocks in place for your journey to thought leadership:
In a world where just about everybody claims to be an expert, publishing content built around your subject matter expertise gives you the chance to prove that you really are one. By engaging your internal subject matter experts and leveraging external opportunities, you can elevate your brand to the status of a true thought leader … and reap the benefits for years to come.