6 Tried and True Ways to Extract Knowledge from Your Internal Experts with Ease
By Mindi Zissman, Zissman Media
Time is our scarcest resource.
And therefore, we’re all guilty of shelving work that isn’t a top priority.
This is precisely what makes extracting content ideas from executives and internal experts a major challenge for nearly every marketing department. Insurance industry businesses are no exception.
Your subject matter experts (SMEs) are short on time, and typically not looking to do a lot of writing in their afterhours. But you need their help to produce blog posts and other thought leadership content because you know that about half of B2B decision makers engage with three to five pieces of content before even speaking to a salesperson1. So, how can you streamline the content creation process?
Meet SMEs where they are
For years I’ve watched internal marketing teams in the insurance and risk industry struggle to develop quality, original content specific to their organizations—and targeted for their customers.
Oftentimes, content teams resort to begging (I’ll take you to lunch!), or guilt trips (Our customers are desperate for direction on this!) to publish even a single blog post.
With so much technology at our fingertips and better communication tools than ever before, our marketing teams can do better. It’s possible to find a way to produce regular streams of quality content authored by your internal SMEs.
Here are six tried-and-true ways to extract content from your executives and internal experts:
1. Abstract Day. Depending on the size of your organization and the amount of content you need to generate, Abstract Day is one of the most effective methods of extracting content. Think of it as speed dating. Pick a day and schedule your teams of producers and risk management leaders for 30-minute slots (everyone has 30 minutes, right?). During their time, the expert comes to a conference room, or jumps onto a running Zoom meeting so the marketing team or external writer can interview them on a specific client problem, best practices or relevant industry news. During the interview, gather the expert’s best practices, timely hook and any other information you need to write the blog/article. Repeat monthly, bi-annually or annually.
TIP: Don’t forget to email the article abstract, blog, white paper, etc. to the SME for approval prior to publishing. Give them full rights to make edits via Track Changes so you can see them.
2. Adaptive reuse. Take the deck from one of your SME’s sales meetings, watch their webinar, listen to a podcast they’re on or take a sell sheet for a specific product and then write it into a blog post/article. Again, always send your content with the expert’s name on it to them for approval. Ask for edits via Track Changes — and publish!
3. Jump on an existing call. Chances are your SMEs and executive team moves from call to call all day with clients, potential clients or even occasionally with news or trade media. Jump on their next call, or go with them to a virtual sales call. They’re likely presenting their best client-facing content. Capture it!
4. Do your research. Have a topic in mind? Do all the background research. Find out what your competitors have to say on the topic and send your SME a list of five questions highlighting your business’ best practices or unique tips. Schedule a call with your SME for just 15 min and write the piece of content. Lead with your organization’s take on the topic.
5. The voice note. For that exec whose schedule is nearly impossible, ask them for a voice note. Send the SME an email with the five questions from #4 and ask them to record their answers on the train or in their car on the way to or from the office. Voila! You’ve got their original ideas—in their own words.
6. Host a Writing Workshop Lunch & Learn. Every once in a while you’ll find an adventurous executive who wants to write his/her own stuff, but isn’t sure how or needs more direction. For this executive, the writing workshop is great. Offer a 30-min. workshop plus food (the food is critical!) and have your outside writer or internal content team give a crash course on how to write trade magazine articles/blogs. Outline how 2021 content differs from even a few years ago and get them started on an outline for the blog post/article around their idea. Present examples of articles/blogs the firm published in the last year or two and go through their successes/ROI.
TIP: Have the internal team follow up with the SME for a quick 15-minute session to collaborate on their outline before writing. This avoids any confusion on the direction of the piece after the exec has already put in the time to write!
Like everything else in life, these strategies require time to take flight, but keep at it and the process will take hold and even get easier!
Mindi Zissman is a ghostwriter specializing in risk, insurance and compliance. Her business, Zissman Media, been helping business write blog posts, eBooks, white papers and annual reports for over 16 years.