From The Editor | August 19, 2021

What To Do When Subject Matter Experts Are Holding Up The Content Process

Joe Cogliano Head Shot

By Joe Cogliano

B2Brand Pushing SMEs image

It’s a common challenge for marketing professionals, especially at water solutions companies. You’ve secured the budget for content marketing and the time has arrived to get your subject matter experts (SMEs) involved.

SMEs hold the key to developing content that builds a relationship with your target audience. They should be tapped for input throughout the process — from developing topics, to being available for interviews, to reviewing papers. However, they often can’t or won’t make the time. This can bring your content marketing efforts to a halt. So, what’s the best way to navigate this problem?

The solution depends upon why they aren’t available.

SMEs don’t have time because you’ve already loaded them up with work

If you’ve already got them presenting at conferences and/or trade shows, writing white papers, and appearing at webinars, they likely have no time for one more thing. Then ask yourself these questions: Is everything you have them doing necessary? Do the priorities you’ve set for your SMEs make sense? Can you streamline any of their tasks, such as using one of their webinars as the basis for a paper? Offer to reduce their workload in exchange for participation.

They don’t have time because they think helping with the content process is time-consuming

In many cases — and especially if you are working with Water Online to produce content — this isn’t accurate. The first step of the process, generating relevant topics, can be done in short brainstorming sessions. Next, an SME interview with a writer at Water Online can be done by phone in less than an hour. Finally, reviewing the final product (750 to 1,500 words) for technical accuracy should take the SME less than an hour (and it’s typically a rewarding experience for SMEs to see their expertise highlighted in this format). Providing your SME with an accurate timeline of their contribution will make it more likely they get motivated to participate.

SMEs don’t see the value of content

If your SME doesn’t understand that content helps build a long-term relationship with the audience, then it’s necessary to educate them. SMEs need to know your company will win more business if you create and properly distribute relevant content that truly helps buyers throughout the entire buyer’s journey. Because it introduces your company as an insightful resource, content is one of the best ways to influence a buyer at the beginning of the process. During this time, they tend to shun salespeople while trying to solve challenges by conducting their own research. If you aren’t answering their questions online, they’ll find a competitor who does.

The bottom line is that SMEs are critical to creating great content. Recognizing the reason that they are hesitant to invest the time is key to motivating them to be involved.