What is the best way to create content that drives customer decisions so they select your product? There are many tools available, but if you’ve successfully employed practitioner marketing for creating thought leadership, then invest in market education, you can easily segue into decision-making content. Practitioner marketing (particularly by-lined practitioner content), comes from outside your organization and is more persuasive than that created by your company. While product specifications are best generated by your own company’s technical staff, case studies, examples, and documentation are more powerful when coming from outside your organization.
While often employed to help a company achieve thought leadership in a highly skeptical audience of experts, practitioner marketing, also called practitioner content marketing, is more than influencer marketing. Influencer marketing primarily relies on social influence, as evidenced by a social media account and followers, including followers in your target market. Practitioner marketing is a form of content marketing where the content is generated by someone with specific subject matter expertise at or above the level of your customer.
Markets that need practitioner marketing tend to be skeptical markets—They are typically those that deliver products and services that need specific, hard-to-acquire, applicable knowledge. While more difficult to recruit, evaluate and manage than the average social influencer, practitioners that provide practitioner-generated content from outside your organization are worth the extra effort. Practitioner content has authenticity because it is generated by experts whose expertise is the influencing factor for your customers. It is even more persuasive, because like influencer marketing, it comes from outside your organization.
When generating product-specific content, your goal is to inform your customers about the implementation of your solution. These pieces can include comparisons to other products or tools, specific use cases, and even product documentation.
How to Create Product-specific Content with Practitioners
The appeal of practitioners to audiences is also the drawback—They aren’t intimately involved with your product. However, by giving your practitioners early access to your product in product testing, and responding quickly to questions and problems and their outsider status (which is closer to the customer), it can pay off.
Introduce Practitioners to Your Product Early
The earlier you get product feedback, the more likely your product launch will be successful. Practitioner product testing is a great way to get customer insight well before your product launch. It’s also a way to introduce practitioners who could write product-specific pieces about your product so that they are not just subject matter experts, but experts on your product.
Another way to leverage product testing is to move practitioners into generating documentation for your product. Documentation can also be a way to enlist a new practitioner and give them enough experience with your product to write intelligently about it later. Having a developer outside your organization write the documentation can be helpful because they make fewer assumptions than the developers that wrote the code originally.
Case Studies, white papers, and other assets
Whether by-lined or ghostwritten, practitioners can fill your content marketing asset pipeline with everything from thought leadership pieces to education or product-specific pieces that drive customers to buy. Use cases written by someone outside your organization can be very powerful. Just make sure you haven’t appeared to sway the writer by gifting them your product or tool. (Their organization should purchase it for authenticity and to be ethical.)
White papers comparing products and solutions, or other long-form pieces (written, video or podcast), can also support your customers’ decision making process. Unlike education or thought leadership pieces, these can include details about your product, but should focus in particular on implementation and results, not just specs.
Building the expertise of your practitioner network for your specific product requires planning to be successful. However, by including practitioner product testing and documentation in your content marketing strategy, you will have primed the pump for writers outside your organization to become experts in using your product. Then, just let them write about use cases, comparisons to other solutions, and watch your customers decide to buy.