Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), especially in the business-to-business world, are sitting on mountains of experience, expertise and compelling opinion. It’s the type of content their existing and prospective customers would find genuinely valuable. The stuff they’d actually stop and read.
Most of them recognise the value this type of ‘thought leadership’ content can bring – working wonders for search engine optimisation and acting as a great source of stats, quotes and other nuggets for social media.
The snag is, such information often gets stuck in the head of their subject experts (SEs). And, by nature of their experience and knowledge, those SEs tend to be fairly senior, and fairly busy.
The prospect of transforming ideas into beautifully writing articles with catchy titles quickly feels insurmountable. Even with the greatest of intentions, content plans can grind to a halt as client work or other priorities push that “nice to have” blog post down the to-do list.
Here’s my guide on helping get your experts’ knowledge from their heads to your audience…
1. Narrow the playing field
- Your SEs could probably talk about all manner of topics(!), so help them focus by reminding them of the priority themes for your business
- These should be defined in your social media strategy
2. Don’t get them to write the post
- Encourage your SE to concentrate on the ideas and avoid writing final copy – focus on:
- The key concept or insight
- The main points to support this perspective
- Any personal experiences/ stories/ anecdotes
- Any metaphors or ways to help people understand the concept
- A simple sketch/ table/ model to illustrate what they mean
- The odd “tweetable” phrase or nugget
- Any key sources where supporting information might be referenced
- And remind them, we’re not writing a 10,000 word white paper here – it can be short and sharp!
3. Make it easy
- I’m a big fan of using templates and forms, but that doesn’t work for everyone
- If your SE prefers to write their points on a pad and send you a photo, then work with that; perhaps not the most efficient approach, but this is about making it easy for them to get those ideas out of their head
- Also consider interviewing them… the amount they can share in a 10-minute Zoom call will be amazing (🎤 just don’t forget to press record!) – plus, you can get a tool to transcribe it, saving you even more time 🤖
4. Outsource the writing bit
- It’s a case of horses for courses 🏇
- The best person to jot down the ideas is the SE, the best person to write them up into a compelling article is probably… a writer!
- Yes, there’s a cost involved, but consider that for a small investment you’ll:
- Have a beautifully written article
- Actually have some content to work with!
5. Brief it well, brief it once
- Of course, outsourcing means getting someone external up to speed
- They’re essentially ghostwriting the article, so they’ll need to understand what is an appropriate tone for the individual, not just your business
- To reduce the back and forward, here’s a blog post briefing template you might find helpful
- Always insist on an outline first from the writer before they draft the whole thing
6. Timely, bite-sized inputs
- To keep things rolling, ensure the SE know when they need to review outlines and drafts
- These should be small requests on their time, but they need to focus and not hold things up
7. Letting go
- SE’s may feel a little uncomfortable at first using a ghostwriter
- Of course, they will approve the posts before it goes live, and there will probably be the odd point where even the best writer can’t quite grasp the message perfectly
- But, your SE must appreciate you’re making a trade-off between “getting it live” and every word being the one they would have chosen
This process doesn’t need to begin with an army of subject experts – consider starting with a couple and seeing what works for them.
The trick is making the process as frictionless as possible by assigning the most appropriate tasks (e.g. ideas, admin, copywriting) to the right people.
Have you tried outsourcing your article writing? I’d love to know how it went.
Image credit: joshua-woroniecki-eUjT8kweNlg-unsplash