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Subject Matter Experts: How Marketers Can Leverage SMEs

A subject matter expert (SME) can boost your marketing credibility and add value to your content. Here’s how to find and leverage SMEs for your campaigns.

Searching for industry information online leads to an overload of results. With so many articles, studies, and opinions, it’s hard to know what’s true. As a marketer, it’s your job to cut through the noise by providing trustworthy content—and subject matter experts (SMEs) can help.

A subject matter expert offers the deep knowledge needed to create credible content for your customers. Their insights help you stand out from the crowd and build your brand reputation as the go-to reference point in your field.

Working with these consultants can prove invaluable, but it takes effort, communication, and a shared vision. Here are some step-by-step guidelines for a successful partnership with a knowledgeable SME.

Step 1: Set goals for what you want to achieve with SME collaboration   

Setting clear marketing goals for the subject matter expert collaboration is key to getting great results. It effectively creates a project management roadmap that guides your decision-making and focuses your efforts.  

Collaborating with SMEs can benefit your organization in numerous ways. Earning customer trust and improving your marketing credibility are central, but that’s not all the partnership can do. Here are a few other goals you might want to consider.

Improve your website’s E-E-A-T scores

Subject matter expert insights can improve your website’s E-E-A-T scores. These scores reflect your content’s experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

Although not a direct ranking factor, a high E-E-A-T score can improve search engine optimization results and deliver more organic traffic. This is especially true when people want to learn from someone with firsthand knowledge and experience.

Getting input from SMEs will infuse your content with original insights and interesting stories your audience cannot find anywhere else. This results in people-first content that keeps customers coming back for more while improving your site’s ranking.    

Boost the value of your online content    

Valuable digital marketing content captivates, educates, and builds trust in your brand. But what makes content truly valuable? Its ability to address your customers’ pain points and provide actionable solutions grounded in real-world experience.

If you’re creating an e-book on technology infrastructure, having a network engineer provide practical advice is more helpful than giving generic tips. Similarly, a video series on skincare offers more value when dermatologists chime in about skincare ingredients, care routines, and lifestyle tips.

With subject matter expert input, the provided advice is more likely to benefit your customers. As word spreads, that could quickly turn your brand into the go-to resource on the subject.

Make content creation more efficient

A subject matter expert can give you the accurate info needed to create quality content the first time around. They can help you gain a deeper understanding of even the most complex subjects, like software development, and stay up-to-date on all the latest trends. 

Your team may also spend much less time fact-checking and editing due to the increased accuracy. This streamlines the content creation process. You can use the extra time to develop more content or otherwise engage with your customers.

Step 2: Decide where you could use the specialized knowledge of SMEs

Not all resources need the specialized knowledge of subject matter experts. So, you have to decide where to add their professional experience and expertise to make the biggest impact.

Oftentimes, this comes down to search intent. For example, if you’re looking for training materials on how to build a race car, you’d likely want to hear from a performance-minded auto mechanic. On the other hand, if you just want to buy camshafts for your car, you might be interested in technical specs, customer reviews, and product comparisons instead.

Consider what your customers want from your content to decide if an SME should lend their expertise. That way, you can develop content that speaks to current and future clients.

Step 3: Find SMEs with extensive knowledge of the subject matter

Your subject matter experts need to know their stuff to positively impact your project. Essentially, they need to have had tons of training and real-world experience, all backed up with professional credentials.

Finding the right person for this particular job is not always easy, but it’s worth doing the research. Here are some ways to zero in on the best SMEs for your project.  

Look on social media for people with a deep understanding of the subject

Social media is full of people who are masters in their fields and eager to share their knowledge in a particular area. You might even know a few right off the top of your head. But it’s best to explore your options before choosing an expert.  

To do that, search within the platform using relevant hashtags, like #healthyeatingtips for a nutrition podcast. Then, browse the posts for experts talking about the topic.

When an SME catches your eye, follow them to engage with their content before asking them to contribute to your project. Also, do a Google search for their website to assess their credentials and confirm they’re a good fit.

Do competitor research to find professionals willing to share their expertise

Your brand’s direct competitors may already use subject matter experts. By looking at their website, blogs, and social media, it’s possible to find industry-specific SMEs happy to share their wisdom.

You can take a different approach if you’re worried about a conflict of interest. Simply dig deeper to find the SME’s competitors instead. Those experts likely have the same level of experience and may jump at the chance to join your project.

Contact professional associations for a referral to a subject matter expert

Reaching out to professional associations is a great way to connect with subject matter experts. These groups maintain lists of experts with the specific knowledge and experience needed for your content.

You just have to contact the associations related to your topic, like the Association for Computing Machinery for information technology companies. Then, ask for a referral for experts with the ideal credentials. If you’d like to meet SMEs face-to-face, consider attending conferences and training programs for your industry.    

Step 4: Reach out to each SME showing your interest

After finding potential subject matter experts, it’s time to reach out and express your interest. This is where you’ll make a personal connection with each consultant and lay the foundation for a successful collaboration.

When reaching out, mention how you found the SME and what you admire about their expertise. Then, ask if they’d be willing to contribute to your content. Clearly outline their role in this specific project and how the process might work.

To make the offer more enticing, communicate how they could benefit from the partnership. This could include gaining exposure to your audience, positioning themselves as a thought leader, or expanding their network.

Step 5: Plan your content with the SME and other team members

Planning your content with the subject matter expert and your team members ensures everyone is on the same page. Each collaborator can provide input to improve the content and streamline the creation process.

Schedule a brainstorming meeting to kick off the planning process. At that meeting, talk about your marketing goals, target audience, and messaging. Ask for input from the SME and other professionals to generate new ideas and find unique content angles your audience may find interesting.

Also, figure out which format will best showcase the SME’s expertise, whether it’s an article, podcast, or webinar. Then, develop a rough outline, noting where the niche information will best support your claims and add value for your clients.  

Finally, establish the content creation timeline, define procedures, and outline the responsibilities of each team member. Let the SME know precisely when you’d like to collaborate further.  

Step 6: Create content using the SME’s highly specialized knowledge

Now, you’re likely ready to put your plans into action. How this works depends on your content type, performance objectives, and SME collaboration level.

For blog posts, you might begin by interviewing the SME to get the niche facts, stories, and opinions that’ll make your content shine. This is also an effective approach when writing e-books about your business area.

If you’re creating a video, podcast, or webinar, consider working with the subject matter expert to create a script. Book a call to review the rough outline and discuss the topic. Use their insights to shape the script, making it informative and engaging for your audience. Consider leaving room for candid chats that give your consultant room to share their experiences.

Once you have a script, work with the SME to find a good day to shoot the content. Try to finish it all in one go, then edit to create a polished final product. This ensures that the content has a cohesive flow and shows your respect for the SME’s time and expertise.   

Step 7: Publish and promote your content on your preferred channels

All that’s left to do is publish and promote your content on your preferred channels. Try to leverage as many channels as possible to deliver your content wherever your audience spends their time online. For example, when publishing on your website, also promote the content on your social media channels and your email newsletter.

If your subject matter expert has an online presence, like a YouTube channel, see if they’ll promote your content as well. This arrangement benefits you both by expanding your reach and showcasing their expertise to a wider audience.  

Boost your marketing credibility with SME knowledge    

Teaming up with subject matter experts supercharges your content. Their expertise not only boosts search rankings and engagement but also elevates your marketing credibility. With this approach, your brand becomes the definitive go-to source for industry insights. Ready to make that happen? Weave SME knowledge into your content and watch the magic unfold.

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