Last week I was sat with a senior director at a global tech firm who was describing to me the fundamental issues which he faces from a brand, PR and Marketing perspective.
They have truckloads of very knowledgeable people, but in fact, their notable subject matter experts (who number several hundred globally) cannot possibly get to their 100,000+ customers on a continuous basis.
There is a disconnect between the people in the firm referred to as subject matter or domain experts and the sales, presales and business consultants who are the ones who experience the majority of the client interactions.
Firms have tried to solve this problem through employee advocacy programmes. Encouraging their many thousands of employees to share centrally-produced content which talks about their products, generic industry problems etc. to their social networks.
The fundamental problem with asking your employees to share lots of very similar content to their social networks is threefold:
- If everyone is singing the same tune at an organisation (sharing the same limited pool of content), it can be a bit odd. Do all of you really think the same thing or are you just doing it to keep someone else happy? It lacks authenticity.
- Does it solve a business need? Smart people will fundamentally ask the question, 'What's the point?' If there's no added value for them personally, they won't engage and you will end up with a rather expensive, under-utilised programme.
- It takes a long time to build up brand reputation and only one piece of shoddy content to do away with that, ensuring the quality of this content is paramount.
Accordingly, what can you do today to get expert insights in front of your key clients and prospects?
First, writing every single piece of content with a clearly defined business purpose in mind is a good start. One client, one problem, one explanation. My colleague James coined the phrase, "create strategically, share deliberately." It's a nice mantra to live by.
Second, as a salesperson, suggest the content you want to be written. One of my clients has monthly meetings with his marketing team to devise what they are going to write about & what messages need to be translated for that coming period. He then has a consistent stream of client-specific insights to send, written by the technical experts, supplemented by his own personalisation for each relevant prospect.
Third, overlay your content pipeline with your sales pipeline: Each piece of content should be written with a specific organisation in mind. This provides focus and creates a new focal point centred around your expertise for your relationship, away from the process & commercials of the sales process. Crucially, the same problems will keep cropping up again & again in an industry so your content will quickly become evergreen.