B2B Marketers: How Technical Does Your Content Need To Be? Tips on Striking the Right Balance.
A hard truth for B2B marketers: The most knowledgeable tradespeople aren’t likely to be the best content writers. Of course, there are exceptions, but it’s generally unlikely that one of the best HVAC techs in a company is also going to be the best person to write a 750-word glowing review of the value of a heating and cooling system.
On the other end, journalists and copywriters and marketing professionals are great at doing the writing, though most of them have never replaced parts of a furnace, or figured out how to vent in a crawl space. They’re usually not the most knowledgeable people when it comes to the technical specifications of a furnace, heat pump or geothermal system.
So how do you bridge this gap? Here are some ways that B2B marketers can figure out how to get the best copywriting for their audiences, and really become thought leaders generating authoritative content for trades fields.
Determine the Scope of the Project
One of the first things that companies should do is look at their actual content needs and figure out which parts need to be significantly technical.
In many cases, administrators can reserve the tough, industry-specific writing jobs, such as white papers, for particular subject matter experts, while getting skilled SEO people or marketers for other content that’s not going to focus on product specifications or other esoteric technical issues.
This type of micromanaging might take a little more work, but it can save companies a lot of time and money in terms of getting just the right content for websites or any other kinds of projects.
It’s a lot like a company that needs to put its data into the cloud — companies will generally use a hybrid approach, where they protect the most sensitive data in a closed system, such as an on-premises system, and let the other data roam more freely. This same type of “divide and conquer” strategy can be really useful when you’re looking to get specific subject matter expert content on a site in an efficient and affordable way.
Use a Fact-Finding Model
Journalists and copywriting professionals are also skilled at interviewing and getting data from diverse sources — whether it’s a document or a live person, the best reporters and writers can dive in and get the technical content that they need, without having much trades experience.
That’s why it’s so important to have professional writers on board, either on staff or as contractors. Having the right people who can reach out to others with particular technical experience can also help a company beat the challenges of finding subject matter experts in industries where really experienced people are few and far between. In fact, using a fact-finding model where professional writers interview SMEs is one of the smartest ways that these companies build great content.
Get Demonstrated Proof of Industry Experience
When B2B marketers are identifying the people who will actually be contributing the technical content, whether they’re writing or not, the key is to make sure that the company verifies that they can write intelligently about the industry.
Some of this often gets done in a phone interview — hiring managers will go over terminology and basic key concepts, to make sure that the person who is applying knows what he or she is talking about. Ultimately, SMEs can send in writing samples or fill out questionnaires. Either way, this due diligence ensures that the company is going to get the caliber of content that it needs in the end.
Tie Content to Broader Industry Context
In some trades industries, although it’s tempting to just focus on the immediate nuts and bolts of processes, it’s really helpful to look at the broader context and try to get other types of content into the mix. For instance, many of today’s physical trades are driven by technology — technology journalists and others who understand this drive can report on things like mechatronics, the junction between mechanical operations and electronics, and apply that to a specific industry, whether that’s welding or carpentry or the production of aircraft parts.
Looking at the broader context also brings up more opportunities to generate thought leadership content from a broader array of writers. Firms can branch out to people who are technology experts, rather than specialized contractors. Going back to the example above, a technical writer could take the white paper authored by the HVAC expert and apply it to a piece about the Internet of Things or some other new tech development.
These are just some starting points to looking at how B2B marketers can get creative, to get the kind of content that they need in a very competitive marketing environment. Think about the most efficient ways to use SMEs and others as part of a dedicated team – and your content strategy will get a much needed shot in the arm.
Editor’s Note: This post was written by Justin Stoltzfus, one of the top B2B writers in the nDash platform. To learn more about him (or to have him write for your brand) check out his nDash profile page.