I have heard the same phrase over and over again from many of our clients when talking about their content marketing strategies: “But how will you write about our products and services?” What they mean to say is, “What do you know about dental supplies? Do you know anything at all about email append software? Are you capable of writing about donor advised funds?” The truth is I don’t know much about any of these topics. Correction: I didn’t know much about any of these topics. Now I can rattle off stats, model types, top benefits and much more about each one. Why? Because in order to write informative, successful content, I needed to become an expert on such things.
In order to effectively carry out a content marketing strategy, including blogs, guides, downloads, videos and other pieces of content, you need to know exactly what you are talking about. That means, no matter the industry, you need to become an expert. With the exception of rare cardiac surgeries or NASA secrets, you need to be able to write about anything. That can be intimidating, especially if the topic is so far from your realm of comfort that you can easily mistake mechatronics for metachromatic.
To learn how you, as a content marketer, can become not only familiar with but develop an expertise for any topic in order to write lots of educational copy, read on.
- Research, research, research: Sorry, there is no easy way around this one. You will need to dig up as much information regarding the topic as possible. Ask your clients for any pamphlets, case studies and articles they have. Read them. Do your own Google search, then take it a step further: read every relevant entry you find.
- Talk to the people who know the business: If it is at all possible, request interviews with experts at the company. Ask them everything you want to know and don’t be afraid to say something wrong. They know you are learning, and it is better to make a mistake now rather than when you are presenting or writing for a wider audience. And don’t forget to ask, “What did I miss?” They know the topic better than you do, so take advantage of the time they have given you.
- Teach someone else: There is no better way to learn something than to teach it to someone else. So manage all the digging then make a presentation to your CEO or boss regarding the topic. The truth is she needs to sound just as informed and competent as you, so handle the heavy lifting (i.e., research) then fill your boss in on the information pertinent to the account. As you inform your audience, you will start to grasp the information in a new way, leading to a more sophisticated understanding of the topic.
- Continue learning: Set up Google Alerts or RSS feeds so that you will continue to learn about the topic as new advances occur. Pay attention to blogs, online courses, social networks and upcoming events. By keeping up to date on the topic, you will become more comfortable and, therefore, more able to communicate the benefits and problem-solving abilities of the products or services. As long as you are writing about the topic, don’t stop learning about it.
When you acquire a new client, and you know nothing about what they are selling, don’t let it intimidate you. Always be honest with them. Let them know you are starting from scratch and will need time to research the topic. Help them understand that you will need their cooperation to get a firm grasp on the details. By working together, you can become an expert on just about any topic and write compelling content to help your clients and your business generate more leads.
What is your best trick for learning about tricky topics? Let us know in the comments below!
photo credit: Pete Prodoehl