Let’s Hear it for the People Who Make B2B Content Marketing Possible
Call them “thought leaders” or “subject matter experts” if you absolutely must (must you, though?). I prefer to call them “some of my favorite people at the company”.
I’m talking about the people who not only have amazing technical knowledge, but also the ability to transfer that knowledge to someone who has much less of it. Someone like me, whose job it is to communicate the knowledge from these experts in the clearest, most compelling way possible so it reaches the people who can benefit from it.
This is my thank-you note to them:
To Some of My Favorite People at the Company:
We work in a very technical industry. I know it, you know it, and our customers know it. But while your background is in [insert technical field], mine is in journalism and marketing.
I suppose I could quietly do some Googling and then write simple posts for our blog that our customers already know. After all, you have a million things to do besides let me interview you and send you articles to review. The thing is, that approach wouldn’t help our company or our customers very much.
Besides, our industry is so complicated with its equations and terminology that I could spend days researching and probably still get things wrong.
So instead, you’ve become critical to the content we publish—something that’s definitely not in your job description. You patiently answer my questions and follow-up questions and follow-ups to my follow-up questions until I have everything I need to write something that’s thorough and clear and useful.
You respond thoughtfully to emails that include a news story and the text: “This seems relevant to our company. Is there something we could say about it?”. You don’t just edit what I write, you provide context so I understand it better the next time. You humor me with questions like “what terminology do people in this industry use when they’re talking about this instrument?” or “what are the biggest questions you get from our customers?”
You send me articles you found that I might want to share on our company social media channels. And you’ve set aside the time to review thousands and thousands of words to make sure I didn’t accidentally insert a phrase that shows I’m not an expert in our industry.
Despite being some of the most humble people I’ve ever met, you never hesitate when our public relations agency emails to say that a reporter is looking for someone to interview for a story. Because you know that it helps us spread the word about our company—and that’s important to you.
You even let me tag along on customer visits and quietly take notes about the questions I’m hearing, the advice you’re giving, and the things each company cares about. I’m not sure you even know how valuable this is to me, but you happily welcome me even though I don’t contribute anything to the actual meeting.
And since we work at a global company with a lot of different products designed for a whole lot of different industries, you help me understand the nuances involved in speaking to each of these audiences like real people with real challenges.
Sure, we’d still have content if you weren’t so willing to get involved, but it wouldn’t be very good. Over the years, you’ve helped me ask smarter questions and if I asked any silly ones (which I’m sure I have and continue to do), you never let on. I would have run out of things to write about a long time ago if it wasn’t for you. I would be writing things that don’t help build our credibility or make our customers’ jobs easier in some way. I would be spending my days guessing about what our readers want.
Your role in our content may be largely behind-the-scenes, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. In its simplest form B2B content can be boiled down to a two-step process:
- Go from knowing nothing (or very little) about the topic at hand to having a comfortable grasp on it
- Transforming that grasp into something useful
And this is why our content would be lost without you.