MSPC vice president of B2B content director Evelyn Hoover provides 11 professional writing tips to help your subject matter experts create valuable content for your marketing program.
Your company’s subject matter experts (SMEs) have the information that customers and prospects want. But translating expertise into content is not without its challenges.
In my last blog post, “Tapping SMEs to Feed the Content Beast,” I outlined three ways to get your SMEs engaged and writing. So maybe you’ve followed my advice and recognize the benefits of having a subject matter expert contribute content. Now you’re thinking, how do I get my experts to translate their ideas into content people can and will read?
For some advice, I tapped several of the brightest B2B editors at MSPC. I also called upon my own many years of experience translating technical SME content into articles and blog posts. The following list of 11 do’s and don’ts are actionable ideas you can pass on to your SMEs as they begin developing content for your company’s blog or website.
The Do’s of Subject Matter Expert Content Creation
- Do create an outline. Your outline is like a friend that keeps you honest and on track.
- Do read popular industry-specific blogs and articles before you begin writing. By doing so, you can ensure you capture the appropriate tone that will resonate with your audience.
- Do write your article in terms you would use if you were explaining your topic to a friend who doesn’t work in your industry. Keeping the tone conversational makes the content more approachable and readable.
- Do think about your broader audience. What do you want them to take away from your article. Have you included all of that information? Do you have too much information?
- Do include a call-to-action. What do you want the reader to do when they have finished reading your article?
The Don’ts of Subject Matter Expert Content Creation
- Don’t over-jargonate. Every industry has its jargon and its TLAs (three-letter acronyms). Avoid overuse of both as they can make your content overly complex and robotic.
- Don’t over- or under-use bullet points. Bullets are great for lists and for timelines, but too many of them make the article appear like a shopping list instead of useful content.
- Don’t be afraid to read your article out loud. This is a great way to see if there are sections that don’t make sense or that just don’t sound good. It can also make you think twice about the information you are including or pieces you decided to leave out.
- Don’t be afraid of subheads. Not only are subheads good for search optimization, but they also help guide a reader through the content by breaking up sections into chunks that are easier to digest.
- Don’t over-capitalize. Although your industry or your company may capitalize a term, having too many capitalized terms in an article makes it harder to read and can be off-putting.
- Don’t write too long or too short. A good rule of thumb is 500 to 800 words. Too short and you’re not giving your readers enough information. Too long and you risk losing their attention.
Final Thoughts on Engaging SMEs
If the content your SMEs are turning in still doesn’t work well for your marketing goals, you can always interview them. This approach has two benefits. First, it can be faster as the SME may have 30 minutes on her calendar but may lack the time required to actually develop content. Second, it gives you more control over the final product.
Above all else, don’t give up. Getting your SMEs engaged provides vital information that your customers crave.
Read next: Tapping Subject Matter Experts to Feed the Content Marketing Beast