In every organisation, there are those people in our organisations who know their field inside and out. Knowledgeable, experienced subject matter experts are so important to a firm.
Too often we see Experts disengaged from the sales and marketing function. Because they are so valuable to the firm and their time in such high demand, Experts simply don’t have the capacity to be directly involved in business development. Subject matter experts can’t oversee every piece of marketing material and can’t be available for every sales meeting.
Expertise is a core part of a firm's competitive advantage. Unfortunately saying “we have the best people” doesn’t fit well into marketing material or a proposal document. Sales and marketing have a lot to gain if they can engage these experts in the business development process and showcase the knowledge, expertise and experience that clients have access to.
Timely, client-focused content is an excellent way to demonstrate your competitive advantage. Easily shareable expert content is like gold for a business development professional looking to differentiate their offer or shape a procurement conversation.
Engaging your experts in content creation is not a simple task. There are four areas that are absolutely critical to getting sustained buy-in.
1. Connect content creation and company growth
Content needs to be positioned as a core part of gaining new business, a key sales enablement function that drives each step of the business development process. You need to frame this positioning in a way that experts will connect with.
If the content is viewed as a vanity piece or a small part of a marketing effort - it's not valuable enough for important people to bother with.
Plan how you will use content at each step of the new business funnel. Communicate your plan clearly.
2. Link authoring with personal success
Once you’ve positioned content as critical to driving growth, you need to connect it to personal success. As much as we like to think of people as team players - personal motivation is essential to engagement.
To bring experts on board, connect content creation with their own personal success.
The best way to do this is through KPI’s. Thought leadership can and should be a KPI for organisations that want to drive growth, enable business development and make the most of their subject matter experts.
3. Make authoring easy
Subject matter experts have spent years developing their understanding of one specific field. Writing and thought leadership is an area of expertise in itself. Training, leadership and tools should be provided to make content creation easy and enjoyable.
You’ve built up the benefits of thought leadership - it's time to reduce the barriers.
Reduce anything that makes it difficult to publish. Complex approval processes, overzealous brand guardians and complicated content management systems all need to be removed or reduced. They are obstacles to content creation and therefore obstacles to marketing, sales enablement and business growth.
4. Feed back when content is working
Getting a subject matter expert to write one piece of content isn’t too difficult. Getting them to regularly contribute well-thought insights is another matter.
When a piece of content has been used to win an important deal or has been used to engage a key account - let your subject matter experts know. The subject matter expert only knows that what they are doing is the right thing if you tell them.
The more you can measure and be specific about where thought leadership is contributing, the more long-term commitment and success you will enjoy.