One of my clients recently asked about how to get better cooperation from the subject-matter experts (SMEs) who are the authors of the content. My work for this firm is mostly around ghosting content based on interviews, PowerPoints and other written materials, and it’s what’s now called “thought leadership content marketing.”

They'rere having trouble enlisting SMEs in creating content, or even reviewing content that the marketing team has developed. This is, I think at least partly because they aren’t approaching the issue with the SME’s interests in mind.

Here’s an expanded idea of what I suggested to this client.

Get the SME’s buy-in right from the concept stage

There are two main reasons to get the SME involved, with their support and commitment, early in the process, right from the concept stage.

One reason is that this way, the concept is likely to be closer to what the SME wants to be known for – which matches their business objectives, and they’re often the best judge of what concerns and issues potential clients are facing.

The other reason is that since they helped develop the concept, they feel more of a sense of ownership in the process and are more likely to cooperate in making the content happen (even if it’s just reviewing a draft prepared by a ghostwriter.

What you don’t want is to write some content and then try to get an SME to “just sign off” on it. They won’t feel it’s theirs, it’s not likely to express their ideas, and the result is that you don’t get their cooperation.

So when you’re thinking of a concept for some content, your first question should be, “Which of our SMEs will want to get involved, because they want to build their practice working in this area?” Better yet, go to one of the SMEs you want to have a higher profile, and ask them, “What kind of work do you really want to do? Let’s generate some content showing your expertise in that topic?”

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Get the client involved whenever possible

Why would you want to get a client involved in your content process? That involves reviews by the client, possible rejection, delays and hassle. But it is SO worth it. Here’s why:

Just like getting the author of the content involved early to gain their buy-in, the client is more likely to greenlight the content if they’ve been involved from the start.

A case study, whether it’s something your firm publishes or gets carried by a third-party periodical, will have more credibility if your client co-authors it. And consider also the how-to-work-with type of content – I’ve written several examples of this type of content, and having the client’s perspective was invaluable.

As a business benefit: I find that if the SME and their client are both involved in an interview with a ghost-writer, the SME gains important insights into the client’s view of the process.

Just be sure that the client is aware that they’ll get an opportunity to review the content before publication and make changes as needed – and even kill the story if they want. This reassures them, and this makes them more willing to cooperate.

Get the content published in media that matter

One of the core features of this blog has been the importance of getting your content published in media that are already relied upon and trusted by the people you want to reach.

This helps get the attention of both your SME and your client – particularly if the content is carried in the client’s industry media. This helps them look good in front of their peers, and what’s not to like about that?

I’ve gone into detail about how to do this in several posts, such as this one.

The last post

And speaking of posts, this will be the last post in Your Expertise Edge. It’s been a good four years, and I’ve appreciated the comments, reviews and thanks over the years. Post #1 was in October 2015, so it’s symmetrical that #124 is being written in October 2019.

I’m going to continue publishing thoughts on thought leadership marketing, but on a bigger platform – LinkedIn. Of course, these blog posts have been posted on LinkedIn all the way along, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

I’d like to thank Olga Boyko for her help in giving my thoughts a wider platform – all that Hootsuite stuff I used to know about, but she’s taken care of it. An also Patricia Makori, who’s been proofreading each post and offering the occasional thoughtful comment along the way.

See you on LinkedIn.