How can you lend credibility and authority to your brand? Subject matter experts. They’re also known as SMEs and are an important part of a brand content marketing strategy.
The best SME has extensive knowledge in a particular area and adds trustworthiness to your content.
Adding subject matter experts to digital content will increase your brand’s authority, engagement, and relevance.
Here you’ll learn about utilizing subject matter experts in a content marketing strategy, where to find high-quality SMEs, and how to collaborate with them.
The Power of Using Expert Content in Marketing
There are many benefits to using an expert to lend their knowledge to your content as part of your marketing strategy.
Here are a few of the most important:
Content written by or that features an SME tells your audience that you are an authority on a particular subject. They know that they can trust you. This can create an emotional attachment to your brand and increase customer loyalty.
The expert should do the following:
- Lend thought-provoking quotes relevant to your audience’s interests
- Answer reader questions
- Draw in new audiences
- Improve reliability with consistent content
- Stay on top of trends and research: This can free up time for you.
When brands use an SME that resonates with their audience, they want to come back to read or watch what that expert says. Think of how magazines like Oprah featured monthly experts in personal finance, life coaching, and home decorating spaces. Those SMEs became household names!
Using an SME can help your brand attract higher-quality leads. Those new leads appreciate the SMEs and the authority they lend to the topic. This strategy can help your sales team and copywriters close the deal, according to that article on RippleVAs.com. Having subject matter experts will assist you in weeding out leads that aren’t interested in your services, the article says. The audience coming to you through them has been vetted.
Case Study: Successful Expert Content Implementation
A popular example of using a subject matter expert would be hiring a registered dietitian to write content for a health food brand’s blog. The company could also pay that expert as a spokesperson for the brand.
Embark is a dog DNA testing company that uses veterinarians as SMEs to write blog content. When readers see the author’s name and credentials, they know the article is vetted by an expert.
Strategies for Leveraging Subject Matter Experts
You need to leverage expert content as part of your marketing strategy to make an impact.
But first, you have to do the following:
Identify Your Subject Matter Experts
Talk with your team members and brainstorm which SMEs will benefit your audience most. You can use a scientist, personal trainer, registered dietitian, or researcher to lend their voices to your content.
A niche journalist with decades of experience in your space might be the best writer or expert for your brand. Do your research before getting in touch with the expert to ensure they don’t work with a competitor.
Identify who you already have on staff or work with regularly that might be an ideal fit. An employee with specialty expertise would be a great SME for your customer-centric content marketing plan.
Ask employees if they know of anyone in their networks who might make a great SME for the brand. It might even be a loyal customer who’s written reviews and shared their experiences with your brand on social.
Think big first. Then, narrow down your list.
Engage Your SMEs
Now that you have a list of SMEs and brought them on board, decide how they will be a part of the content creation process.
They might be a resource when coming up with content ideas. They could create videos, write blog posts, or be a resource for writers on your team to interview. Ask the SME what they are comfortable with before creating a content plan around them.
Some might be camera-shy and prefer behind-the-scenes contributions. Others will shine in a video format.
One example of a great SME and brand partnership is this video from ButcherBox featuring Chef Bruce Weinstein leading a cooking class on YouTube with meat from the brand.
Collaborate Effectively with Experts
Create guidelines as to how and when you’ll use your SMEs.
You might make them available to freelance writers creating blog posts to interview as an expert. But you might also want the SME to review the content before it goes live. Some brands like to have SMEs on their advisory board to bounce ideas off of when creating content and check copy at the end for accuracy.
Talk to the decision makers at your company. Ask how a subject matter expert could help take the business to new levels in ways other than content creation.
Overcome Challenges in Expert Content Creation
While creating expert content has a lot of benefits for your brand, it’s best to go into the relationship being aware of some challenges:
Address Time Constraints and Expert Availability
Make sure the expert’s contract addresses their availability and expectations around response time to emails. Ensure there’s an open dialogue about schedules and when they’ll need more time to work on content creation.
Ensure Consistent and Accessible Language
Whether you’re working with one SME or a few, present them with a style guide to reference. Give them talking points and brand messaging to incorporate. Request that they use language that’s accessible to your audience. Sometimes their everyday language in their niches won’t make sense to the rest of us!
Maintain the Balance of Expertise and Marketing Goals
Subject matter experts often come at a cost. So, be ready to carve out a chunk of your marketing budget for this expert content. That’s why it’s so important to learn as much as you can about any SMEs you’re considering. To ensure they align with your brand and that it’s a seamless process to onboard them.
You want to make the expert content creation process as easy as possible. And ensure the expense pays off in dividends. It’s more important to find the right subject matter expert rather than onboard several experts that aren’t reaching the right audiences.
How to Use Subject Matter Experts to Produce Expert Content for Your Site
Now that you understand the value SMEs can add to your content strategy and the authoritative heft they lend to content, line up your experts! Your audience will love reading the expert content you’re putting out and you’ll see the payoff in your metrics.
You can use SMEs in articles, SEO posts, social posts, newsletters, eBooks, webinars, papers, product reviews, and videos. Finding the best format for you and each SME will go a long way. Especially if you want to create great expert content and fostering a quality relationship with your expert.
For the best practices for incorporating SMEs into your strategy, talk to our industry experts who can set you up on the right path.