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Practitioner Marketing Playbook: Thought Leadership

November 9, 2017 - Practitioner Marketing - , ,
By: Yolanda Fintschenko

What is practitioner marketing? It’s a little bit like influencer marketing, but requires more than a social media account and followers. It requires expertise in a particular area. Practitioner marketing is a form of content marketing where the content is generated by someone who actually uses the products in your market space. In a highly technical market like DevOps, that means a practitioner is highly technical.

Expertise alone is not as valuable as expertise and influence, but you can have a good practitioner without the practitioner possessing status a social influencer. If the content is good enough, the influence will come. Expertise and communicating it are the only two things that matter—and really, it’s the expertise you need.

We’ve talked a bit about which markets need practitioner marketing for a successful influencer content marketing strategy. Generally speaking, the markets in need exist around products and services that require specific, applicable knowledge. Tech, biotech, and science are all examples, as are markets like law, accounting, and finance. However, we have ignored what type of content is most effective from practitioners.

Thought leadership and awareness

If you are marketing to a skeptical market, your credibility increases if your influencer marketing content is generated by practitioners. It is even more authentic if that content comes from outside your organization.

In order to keep that authenticity, you can’t just hire some paid schils to tout your products—If you do, you instantly extinguish credibility and lose the value of reputation, technical credibility, and influence. Instead, you need to harness practitioners that have strong, technically supported opinions, stances and approaches. This means you have to harness their expertise to educate people about the issues through topics they gravitate towards discussing.

These topics will inevitably be your customers’ pain points. By featuring this kind of content on your blog or with your brand, you demonstrate to the customer that you understand her world. By delivering this kind of technical issue-focused content, you draw people who are not customers yet to your company. This creates share of conversation about specific topics.

By not hawking your product, you retain the credibility of your practitioner content. You increase your brand’s reputation for thought leadership in an industry, and thereby increase brand awareness. You widen the top of your funnel.

You also allow practitioners to retain their passion. If they pick the issues that really fire them up technically, the content is sure to strike a chord with other passionate practitioners. Practitioner passion ignites a fire in your market. Your brand then becomes associated with the topic everyone is talking about.

Of course, at some point you need to move to education pieces, and then decision-making pieces, like product comparisons and specs. And of course you need your company’s expertise to shine through, especially when it comes to how to apply your product. There is plenty of room for sales-enablement material that your company generates.

The takeaway

Use practitioner marketing to create quality, credible content that shares expertise when you market to experts. By keeping up an open-ended conversation with your customers through awareness pieces, you can start and deepen relationships that go beyond a single transaction. This translates into more than brand awareness and lead generation. This becomes stickiness.

Yolanda is a scientist, writer, marketer, coach and avid runner who lives and works in Livermore, CA.  She founded Common SciSense, a marketing company for technical products, and co-founded founderTRACTION, lean marketing services for startups. 

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