"How can I motivate my colleagues to help produce relevant content?" Sadly, this is a question I often get from B2B companies. In this article, I've gathered some best practices that might help you get more help from your colleagues creating relevant content.
I've worked with plenty of B2B companies that have decided to get employees outside of the marketing department to contribute to the content. Unfortunately, based on my experience, most of them have not succeeded.
To create content successfully, you need relevant topics and extensive knowledge about them. To get these valuable resources, content creators often have to enlist the help of internal experts. For example, a product owner who has extensive knowledge of the solutions and services your company sells, a salesperson who meets customers regularly and knows what's going on in their world, or a service rep who helps customers solve everyday problems.
However, just because you decide that all employees should start creating content doesn't mean that the content will magically arise. The internal experts you want to contribute probably already have full calendars. Even if they have time, they often need to prioritise something else. Often, they don't fully understand their task, or they may have difficulty writing. So there are many reasons why the requested content rarely gets produced.
For this outsourced content creation approach to work, you need to find patterns and processes that make it easy for the experts, salespeople, and service reps to give you content ideas that you can then develop as a ghost creator. After all, even though they have the knowledge you need, you're the content expert.
If the situation I've described sounds familiar, I have several concrete tips that can help you get content ideas and inspiration from your company's internal experts.
Use and re-use existing content
Instead of insisting that they create something new for you, ask if they already have something on the topic you are looking for. For example, they may have answered questions from a customer addressing the exact areas you need. Alternatively, you can often find the answers you need in their customer presentations. By taking this approach, you get what you need without them having to work very hard.
Make it easy to meet
Instead of trying to book a full hour with them, see if you can have a cup of coffee together or talk briefly between two meetings. If you try to shoehorn your way into their packed calendar, there is a significant risk that your appointment will be postponed to some beautiful day in the future (i.e. never). Five minutes may be enough to give you some basic ideas for new content, especially if you've prepared some good questions.
You will have a more successful collaboration with your colleagues if you ask them for small things, like answers to a few questions. If you demand a lot from them straight away, it might get overwhelming for them. Start small, and as you gain more trust in each other, you can collaborate on larger pieces of content.
Do not make vague wishes or half-finished suggestions. You then risk stressing them, and they start avoiding you. I have noticed that the more concrete I am in my description of what I'm looking for, the better response I get.
Use their strengths
I have come across many people who find it very difficult to write. If you ask your expert to write an article for you or even explain something over email, you probably won't get a good result. In most cases, it's better to record an interview with your expert, either in audio or video. Let them write, talk, draw, summarise something in bullet points - anything that makes it easy for them to share. You'll get much further this way than if you insist on a format that is easier for you.
Distribute the job
Your colleagues are experts in their respective fields, not in creating content or how to distribute it. In this area, you must be the expert. In this area, you must be the expert. It is not their job to decide how they should formulate something, in what format, or on what channel. It's yours. Do not waste their time on such details - instead, focus on what gives the most value to your customers.
Find effective ways to communicate
If you want help regularly from, e.g. product owners or sales reps, you need to make it easy for them to share thoughts, ideas, and questions. They often do not have time to sit in on regular meetings, but you may be able to share a document in which they throw in their suggestions and thoughts. Or, to be even more accessible, let them send you a message or email. Everything you can do to make it easier for them will pay off.
Give feedback on the content
It's a good idea to explain why you want help with content from a colleague, but it's even more critical that you go back to them after publication and tell them how it went. Sometimes it means that you have to say that nothing happened, but you will at least show what you produced with their help. This simple step will make them much more interested in helping again. And it may even be that you get more colleagues who want to contribute in the future. Feedback and communication are essential.
Make the most of their time
If you get your expert to give you more than five minutes, make sure you get the most out of that time. Do not just spend time getting the answers you need right now; make a list of other questions or angles that you can handle simultaneously. In my experience, these kinds of booked content sessions with experts often get rescheduled or deprioritised, so make sure you get as much input as possible when you have it available.
Hopefully, these tips will help you get started and find your own best ways to collaborate internally to create relevant content!
Do you need help getting started?
If so, we can help you develop processes that help you and your colleagues collaborate more effectively when creating and distributing content. We have extensive experience helping B2B companies become more relevant and engaging with their content - if you want to know more, book a meeting with me.
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about what and how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B. Asks a lot of questions, and knows what to do with the answers.