I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of diving headfirst into a project that I have no clue how to perform. Sometimes, this shines through in an upcycling project, and other times you’ll see it in the spackled holes in my walls from incorrect measurements.
Actually, I most often fulfill this thrill through my role as a content marketer. Over the past eight years, I’ve become a restaurant, salon, adult beverage wholesaler, HR technology, real estate, and excavating expert.
Of course, “expert” is stretching it — extremely far.
However, as a marketer, it’s my job to jump into the shoes of my clients. I need to know everything about their product, the industry, and — most importantly — their audiences. In a short amount of time, I need the power to communicate in a way that cultivates the trust of readers looking for answers and insights in unique industries.
The ability to morph into an expert on any topic is a skill every content marketer needs in their toolbox. Even if you’re part of an internal marketing team, there will come a time when leaders ask you to write about a topic or approach a target audience you’re not an expert on.
You don’t need to spend days or weeks attempting to become an aficionado on every topic sent your way. Nobody has the time for that. What you do need to do is find ways to ensure what you’re writing is accurate and trustworthy.
Here are the three Rs that’ll help you do just that:
Research, research, research
The internet is an overwhelming place. A simple Google search will lead you down innumerable rabbit holes. While there’s plenty of unreliable sources, many companies, universities, and other organizations are dedicated to providing updated and reliable information on nearly any topic.
Research is critical for two reasons:
It gives you a source for quick, dense facts
The research process is your gateway to direct facts and crucial opinions. Most reports offer a “Key Findings” section, which is the perfect place to find a synopsis of the information you need to write in-depth about a topic.
Use these quick facts as inspiration for more research or to guide you in creating interview questions for experts. If you know just one very specific detail, you can guide an expert into answering questions that shine a brighter light on your content’s end goal.
It proves you know what you’re talking about
Blindly rambling is never something we suggest. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens when we’re not confident about our subject matter. It’s easy to fill the space with meaningless words just to say it has reached the word count and is finished.
But this doesn’t help anyone, especially the reader. It can also be the downfall of your company’s or your client’s reputation as a thought leader.
Prove you know what you’re talking about by using research to back up your points. To do this, you’ll actually have to start in reverse — use research to craft your sections around.
Use a key research finding and analyze how that aligns with the goal of the post. Does it back up the overall point of the post? If so, use it to begin crafting your subpoints throughout the post. Starting with the research shows the reader your points are valid with proof to them.
Bonus: Google research hack: [insert keyword] (research OR study OR survey OR statistics)
One of the best resources you can use in writing is other published writers. The issue, however, is that if you don’t know what in the world you’re talking about, chances are there’s a multitude of information out there by others who were in the same boat.
So, to effectively read-up, you need to search in the right places. Look for niche publications specifically for your topic and target readers.
For example, when I’m writing for business leaders on the topic of leadership, company culture, or employee engagement, I turn to Inc.com, Entrepreneur, and Fast Company because I know they have strict publication policies and only true experts on those topics are published.
Also, follow notable thought leaders on social media for inspiration, points of importance you need to discuss, and learn about what’s trending. These leaders should have established companies or roles within a reputable organization.
Most importantly, it’s important to know you don’t have to do this alone. Just because you’re the content marketer, doesn’t mean every word or sentiment has to come from your brain.
Actually, for validity and authenticity, it’s important it doesn’t. Reach out to experts. Your clients, colleagues, or company leaders are the perfect place to start. Send them a few quick questions or schedule a call to interview for a specific piece of content.
Once they’ve shared their expertise and input, use your wordcrafting wizardry to reinvent what they’ve said to align with the brand and flow correctly with the rest of the piece.
Having their direct accounts and deeper insights allows you to create more authentic and original content to round out open-to-the-public information you received using research.