I know, you are just slapping yourselves silly because you missed our workshop at Evans Data Corporation’s 14th Annual Developer Relations Conference in Palo Alto, CA. Whether you missed it or made it, we thought we’d break 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, and practitioner content marketing production. The details of practitioner marketing production are where the devil lives, so it is worth digging a little deeper into some important tactics. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves! First….
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.
Developing your production workflow
We recommend that you begin with metrics—specifically, share of conversation (SoC), which is a subset of share of voice (SoV). The percentage of conversations your company appears in or your company’s content appears in is your share of conversation. This reveals your position, your competitors, and cascades into your curation strategy.
Define your content curation strategy by identifying a conversation, which will lead into topics. This is the entry point into developing a topic strategy. This will allow you to develop a production workflow to support your curation strategy. Each step of the production workflow deserves a lot of attention. As we’ve explained, at a high level, your process is as follows:
- Find the practitioner
- Onboard your practitioners
- Enforce your process
Rinse, repeat, right? If only it were so easy!!!
Solving the Practitioner Problem
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. We have done this across multiple personas, so it is one-stop shopping for our customers. If you are going to do this in-house, it means creating your own network of practitioner contributors.
How do you develop a practitioner persona? Pretty much the same way you would create a customer persona. What you will find, if done right, is that the practitioner persona is close to (at least) the content customer persona (aka the reader) who will eventually become your actual, factual customer.
Need a hint for selecting a conversation-determined practitioner persona? You can start with our blog series, Topic Facets, which takes a conversation topic and walks you through our Share of Conversation calculation all the way to the high-level characteristics of the practitioner persona.
The truth is, your practitioner is probably much like your customer. The key difference is that they also want to write. A practitioner is an expert, not a journalist, and not necessarily even an influencer...yet. The best practitioners know their stuff.
There are a number of places to find practitioners. LinkedIn and Twitter are good starts. Referrals from product developers within your company are another. The key thing is vetting. Someone in your company who is expert enough has to validate a practitioner’s technical expertise. Then, the practitioner needs to be incentivized to write, and then to write for you.
The true first step to content production is rooted in developing your practitioner persona. Once you have identified that, it’s time to recruit. Then, you will want to engage and manage them effectively. When you download the Practitioner Marketing Playbook, you can read about this process in more detail and complete some exercises to get started.