From Brain To Blog – How to Work with Industry Experts/
December 18, 2014
You’re developing web content for an industrial B2B company that has 20+ employees, most of whom are experts in their field. Their premier product is highly technical and in a niche market that is traditionally offline, as are many B2B businesses. Their site and its audience are relatively small, but growing rapidly.
Because this particular industry was so slow to migrate to a digital world, the competition isn’t incredibly high. This means that, hypothetically, keyword-targeted high-quality content rich with expert information could easily rank well.
It sounds simple, but getting a handful of industry veterans to contribute content by writing down the wealth of knowledge in their brains is no field day. The expert’s first question is typically, “What do you want to know?” It’s a valid question. If I worked in the industry for 20+ years and someone asked me to write, I’d likely respond with a similar remark.
So how does one coax information from an expert’s brain? This question becomes more challenging when you are not an expert in the industry yourself. Here are a few of my tried-and-true solutions:
1. Impose A Blog Schedule
Imposing a blog schedule is effective for a content manager who has a team that has agreed to write but doesn’t know what to write about. Aim for a realistic amount of posts per week or month, and give each expert an article due date accompanied by a topic chosen through keyword research.
This takes the tension off of the expert about what to write about, and allows them to spout off all they know about this predetermined topic instead.
I find it’s helpful if you can get executive support for your schedule. People will take anything more seriously when their boss is involved. Repeat the schedule and before you know it you’ll have your contributors submitting two posts at a time (yes, that really did happen to me).
2. Create A Questionnaire
Creating a questionnaire is most effective for someone who has experts available for questioning, but is writing the content himself. I find it easiest to begin by trying to comprehensively grasp the topic at hand. Every time you ask yourself a question, write it down. The questions that you’re asking, someone else is asking too.
As you’re writing each of your questions, you’ll see a natural outline begin to form in front of you that can be used when drafting your content. Once you’ve finished collecting your questions, send them to your in-house expert and you’ll have a wealth of expert information returned to your inbox.
Turn the information into a well organized piece of on-page content and repeat the process. Your website will be publishing authoritative content within its industry in no time!
3. Have A Conversation
Whether you’re across the hall or across the country, sometimes having a conversation is the most effective way to get what you need. This is especially helpful when the idea of having to write scares the hell out of your experts. No judgment here- the fear is real!
Schedule a 30-minute conversation with your expert and talk it out. Tell them what keywords you’re targeting and what you need to know to be able to write high quality content. Take notes, record the conversation, or bring a draft of your post to review with the expert. This allows the individual to verbalize their experience and removes the pressure of writing.
4. FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
This method is great for when you have a case of writer’s block or just don’t know what information your audience is seeking. Your industry experts have repeatedly answered the same questions throughout their years of experience. If you asked your company’s experts what questions they are asked most frequently, they could probably rattle off 5 or 6 with little thought.
Every question they suggest is an idea for a blog posts. If there are people asking these questions offline, they are certainly asking them online as well.
Ask all of your experts to write their top 10 most frequently asked questions (answers not necessary) and submit them to you. From here you could create a FAQ page or answer each question thoroughly with expert information in a blog post.
Have your own way of getting the experts to talk? Comment below!