No one wants to write. Now what?

4th, Nov 2014

frustrated man 2One of the top challenges of content marketing is motivating the people who have the subject matter expertise to share it with others. These individuals are often busy professionals with lots of priorities working in an environment where writing isn’t as highly valued as other work. Add that these experts may not have the greatest writing or speaking skills and it is easy to see why they aren’t the most motivated bunch. But how can you as a marketer or manager get past that?

Start with a good example.

Is there someone in the firm who is motivated? Begin with that person and explain to everyone all the ways his/her content is going to be distributed and promoted by the firm. Provide data on how many people are in the firm’s direct network and the additional reach via social media. Then make sure you showcase the results. For example – Is the content being viewed and shared? Are other sites linking to the content? Has the person or the firm heard from clients, prospects or the media? Are there improvements in search rankings and web traffic? Ideally your test case will also become an influencer within the firm and help get others to participate.

Promote the internal benefits.

It’s great to be acknowledged by clients and prospects for your work, but praise and recognition within the firm is pretty good too. You should make sure articles, speeches and other efforts are recognized by everyone internally. Even if there isn’t a tangible reward attached to writing, the internal exposure might be especially valued by those seeking raises, partnerships or other benefits.

Get them help.

Do people need help coming up with ideas? With writing? With research? There may be resources within the firm. Have individuals in the firm work together. Someone great at brainstorming ideas paired with a researcher who can fill in the details. A writer paired with a speaker who can come up with great presentations. A marketer or junior staffer can interview a more senior member and write up the interview. For topic ideas and research, there are online services and “social listening” tools to help curate information on a particular subject area and find out what your target audience is talking about online. If those options aren’t enough, consider getting outside help. Writers and editors can transform ideas into great content. They are a worthwhile investment to ensure your content pipeline is high-quality and consistently maintained.

Create a schedule and realistic targets.

An editorial calendar with clearly defined dates means everyone is on notice of their obligations. Guilt and a sense of responsibility about missing public deadlines can be great motivators. Remember to secretly build in extra time to account for late material.

Have them write about what they know and are genuinely interested in.

Not surprisingly, it’s easiest to get content from someone who feels very comfortable with the subject matter. But sometimes firms want to position themselves as experts in new areas or take advantage of media interest in a topic. Realize that you need an exceptionally motivated person who wants to develop that expertise to take on the project. That person needs to be really interested in the subject matter or it will never happen. Threats from above may work for a time, but it’s not a long term strategy.

Make it a competition or contest.

There are lots of options for this – most articles written in X period, article with the most page views or shares, etc. Rewards can include periodic parties, gift cards, day off, etc. Even just announcing the winner to the rest of the firm can be a good motivator.

Tie it to compensation.

For content marketing to succeed, it needs to be valued and treated as a firm-wide initiative. That means not just talking about the rewards, but also the consequences of not participating. Make it a part of each employee’s evaluation.

When I was in publishing, I worked with hundreds of professionals to get them to write for our publications or speak on topics. Even as someone giving them media opportunities, my role often resembled a professional nag. I used logic, polite reminders, motivational speeches, guilt, threats and anything else I thought might work. I learned that no one strategy works with everyone and even the same individual might react differently at different times. So try them all, mix them up, rinse and repeat.

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