If you create products for developers, you know that engaging developers requires a management strategy. Developers are practitioners, and they are the best source of deeply technical content for persuasive content marketing campaigns that target developers. Since March, we have been breaking down our Practitioner Content Marketing Playbook for you (in excruciating detail). Feel free at any point to request your full copy of the playbook which includes helpful exercises that you can use to launch your practitioner marketing strategy.
So far, we have covered practitioner content marketing, practitioner content marketing metrics, practitioner content marketing curation, practitioner content marketing production, and practitioner personas. Let’s just assume you have followed along—It’s time to take a pause and consider practitioners themselves. A big part of producing practitioner-written content is effectively managing the process. And to do that, we highly recommend getting your own practitioner whisperer.
What is practitioner content marketing?
Practitioner content marketing is an approach to building thought leadership by publishing content about important technical issues or problems in your market space, and the content is written by practitioners from outside your company. This content can be hosted on your company blog, an asset delivered via a developer-to-developer community, or even posted on Quora or Medium. The key elements of practitioner content are that it is:
- Written by an expert (hint: if your customers are developers, it may include code)
- Attributed (the value of the practitioner is that they aren’t from your company)
- Not a product pitch (thought leadership speaks to the customer about their world, not your company)
Why use practitioner content marketing?
With skeptical technical audiences, practitioner content is more persuasive than the material produced by your company. Unless you are speaking to existing customers about the specific details of your product, your company has zero credibility about the issues your prospective customers face. But practitioners are JUST LIKE your customers. So when they speak, people listen. And if your company is smart enough to host their content, those skeptical prospects just might start to believe that you have something to offer to them.
Keeping your practitioners engaged
The first step to content production is practitioner recruiting—which means your secret, real first step is developing your practitioner persona. You will need to develop that for each conversation. Let’s assume you’ve checked that box. If you have, and your product is for developers, that persona is deeply technical, perhaps a tad irascible, independent, self-motivated, and probably not a writer by profession. So, how does one harness that creative energy in pursuit of writing about topics that drive conversations important to your business? (Particularly when the best person to do this does NOT work for your company?)
It’s time for the practitioner whisperer.
Who is that masked editor?
The practitioner whisperer can only work miracles if she commands respect both as a technical expert and as a writer. In addition, she must be able to edit. And by edit, I mean actually go in and rewrite things for flow, without losing the technical meat or the writing style in the piece. She must be able to discern when an author truly needs to rewrite something, versus leaving them alone when only a small editorial touch-up is required. It takes someone who can pull out an author’s best with a carrot and avoid the whip.
The practitioner whisperer engages as his management style. Entices and incentivizes, but with authority, so the whip is implied rather than used. Deadlines are met because the process is enforced, not because an editor gets ugly. Expectations are exceeded because the practitioner whisperer helps authors see their potential and reach for it. Outstanding articles are recognized. Poor ones never see the light of day.
Technical exchanges between writing assignments feed a strong relationship. The practitioner whisperer cares about practitioners and their ideas between writing assignments. The process that is developed is what manages, the practitioner whisperer engages. The process is the tool, but not the weapon. When you download the Practitioner Marketing Playbook, you can read about this process in more detail and complete some exercises to get started.
The practitioners you’ve recruited are a valuable crew. And they don’t have to work for you. To manage them, a well-developed process should be enforced. To engage them, you need more than an editor. You need a practitioner whisperer. Who makes the best practitioner whisperer? Another practitioner.