Cutting-edge marketers are expanding the role and visibility of Subject Matter Experts (SME), according to IT Solutions Marketing Association’s 2014 study, How B2B Buyers Consume Information. Are you one of them?
Let’s face it. When a B2B customer is making a complex buying decision, marketing is one of the last resources to which the buyer wants access. The buyer wants access to SMEs – product managers, sellers, engineers, consultants, and other clients. Buyers want to engage with people, not brands, to learn the ins and outs of the product or service for which they are about to invest significant time and money. Yet, too often it’s marketing that charges forward as the sole voice of its organization, especially when it comes to social media.
Let’s be clear. Marketing definitely has a role. A very important role. Marketing is the orchestra conductor for the organization, so to speak. Marketing creates the vision for the brand, sets the tone of messaging to project the right image, understands the audience and knows where and how to best engage with them, and enables the performers, the organization’s experts, to easily and effectively connect with the audience.
Cutting-edge marketers understand that raising the visibility of SMEs validates their organization as an expert and leader in the industry. Integrating SMEs’ social authority and networks into marketing efforts can significantly increase reach, awareness, preference and quality of leads. How? Marketers arm SMEs with value-add content and updates which the SMEs can customize and share quickly and easily with their networks of infuencers, customers and prospects.
If you’re ready to boost your marketing results by expanding the role and visibility of your SMEs, these steps will help you get started.
- Train your SMEs to use social media for engaging with prospects and customers. Remember, it’s about engaging, not broadcasting. Also, don’t expect your SMEs to learn every social channel, instead, draw on your knowledge of your target audience and prioritize one or two based on where your customers go for information.
- Set expectations. Remember, your SMEs already carry a full load. They are not looking for more responsibilities. Set a target of 45 minutes per week for listening and engaging. Also, be clear that you want your SMEs to use their own voice, not simply re-post updates from your brand account.
- Make it easy for your SMEs to contribute to your organization’s market reach. Ask your SMEs how, where and when they would prefer to receive updates from you to be shared with their online network. Once you establish the communication model, be consistent to help your SMEs form a habit of participation.
- Track and reward. Recognize that you won’t get 100% SME participation. Be sure to reward those that do. And don’t forget to monitor and report results. Give credit to those that make a difference with reach, engagement, and leads.
Our team will be exploring this topic in more detail during our weekly CrowdChat on August 27 at 1pm ET. Feel free to join the conversation or simply “listen”. If you missed it, you can review the questions and answers using the same link.