getting content out of engineers

How to Get Engineers on Board with Content Marketing

leonie waldron
Leonie Waldron
Head Strategist


  • Engineers are busy people: respect their time and only involve them in necessary parts of marketing. 
  • Most engineers aren’t natural marketers, so give context when you’re asking for help – explain how their input will benefit the business. 
  • Consider quick lunch & learn sessions or other bite-size educational formats to help your experts understand more about marketing and their role in its success. 
  • Always credit your engineers for their work and input.

First up: respect your subject matter experts!

Subject matter experts or SMEs are highly experienced in particular fields, such as engineering, product management, manufacturing or maintenance and it’s likely that there are a handful of these people within your organisation.

When you involve them in your brand’s content creation process, you can achieve new levels of depth and insights.

But here’s the problem!

Most of these professionals are busy with their own problems and tasks, and helping out the marketing team is way down the list of priorities.

Your engineers probably work at least 40 hours per week and juggle many problems and projects at once. In addition to that already full plate, most of these SMEs are not marketers; yet someone has to provide the deep expertise needed to create educational content.

In line with that, it’s difficult for marketers to extract knowledge from these experts, even when they value your efforts (and virtually impossible when they don’t).

That said, extracting knowledge from subject matter experts requires a certain finesse.

Here are some tips to get engineers on board with content marketing.

engineer inspecting wiring

1. Understand their point of view

Put yourself in your engineers’ shoes. They are busy most of the time. Maybe they’re working on a project to help improve your customer’s life, or designing a prototype for the company’s next innovative product.

They’re not marketers. And being interviewed for a blog post is not what they’d love to be doing during their lunch break. Plus, the way they see it, content creation is your job.

So as a marketer, you’ll need to come up with a compelling reason to get them on board with marketing. You must help them understand their role in content creation and why their input is paramount to the business’s success.

And to achieve that, you’ll want to know what makes your SME tick to get them to participate in content creation.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What is the engineer’s biggest problem? It could be that the marketing team keeps bothering them to create content, and they don’t have time for that.
  • What are their challenges to solving those problems? Maybe they don’t understand the point of writing content, or why helping with content creation should matter to them.
  • Are there problems they don’t realise they have? Maybe they don’t understand what opportunities they’ll lose if they don’t participate in content creation.

By understanding their pain points, you’ll be better equipped to approach them with a plan that addresses all those problems.

engineer cad designing robot

2. Offer a quick ‘Marketing 101’ session

As mentioned, engineers aren’t always adept at content creation. Their day-to-day job revolves around designing engineering experiments, creating project specifications, and planning using detailed drawings.

As such, you’ll first want to give them a quick crash course on content creation and its importance to your organisation.

The goal is to help them understand the value of content, both to the company and their personal brand, and what good content looks like.

One way to achieve that is to provide learning and development opportunities for them.

This could involve taking quick classes or seminars or giving them access to programs like LinkedIn learning, where they can learn new like social media marketing and more content marketing insights. Even a pre-recorded DIY video that explains the how and why of content marketing could be helpful, and filming it means your engineers can watch it in their own time.

Unfortunately, 78% of subject matter experts say their organisations don’t offer learning and development programs designed to help them advance their skills. Of course, since engineers are busy people, you’ll have a find a way to squeeze learning into their daily or weekly routine. A lunch & learn session can also be helpful, allowing some brief casual information to be shared over a bite to eat.

engineers working together

3. Involve them in your content strategy

Getting content for your subject matter experts can be difficult if you don’t include them in your content planning team.

Let them in on your content marketing goals. Share who your target audience is, the key message you want to communicate, and what you seek to achieve. Then ask for their input. Keep it high-level and brief and be sure to tie this back to goals that they will be personally interested in.

Engineers know your industry like the back of their hands. Their input can help you come up with general themes for upcoming content that tie back to your offerings. At a minimum, hold brief meetings with them semi-annually as you plan your content calendar.

And since engineers are specialists in your industry, they can become the best sources of information for your audience.

4. Determine if they will be passive or active

As you begin collaborating with your engineers, you’ll need to make an important distinction: Will they play an active or passive role in your content creation program? Each option will require a different workflow and management method.

Active role

As the name suggests, active SMEs are actively involved in the nuts and bolts of content creation. They may act as interviewees for current and future articles, offer their bylines to provide thought leadership, or even draft the content themselves.

As they’re more involved in the content creation process, you’ll want to communicate often. Ask about their availability, get a sense of their personality, and identify the channels or mediums that are ideal for their strengths.

Take Samsung, for example.

The electronics giant identified Taher Behbehani, an electrical and computer engineer, as an active subject matter expert. His expertise and personality were ideal for addressing clients, so the company developed a podcast series with Taher as the host and face of the show.

Taher contributed regular interviews and one-off quotes to bring technical content to life, explaining it in an easy-to-digest format. He even took on the writing role and published the content on the company’s website.

Passive role

Passive SMEs are not actively involved in content creation but provide insights that aid in content development.

In most cases, they’ll review ideas, give their inputs, and provide general guidance. They may also add comments to content to highlight errors or suggest areas that should be improved or added to produce more polished content.

Since their role is limited, you’ll want to streamline the review process as much as possible. Be sure to provide them with the context and resources they need on time.

For example, if they’ll only review content after the draft has been submitted, ask about their availability so that you can prepare content in advance. This ensures they have ample time to review the content and make changes and that you don’t mess up with your content calendar and publishing schedule.

engineers working together

5. Have a clear workflow

Having a clear workflow is critical, especially if you’re bringing SMEs on board.

A clear workflow should define who and when the tasks should be completed. It ensures the SMEs have a blueprint for what they’re expected to do and when they’re expected to do it. This helps to streamline the content creation and remove confusion in the process. Keep it easy, clear and to the point.

A good workflow should have clearly defined roles that explain the nitty-gritty of the task and the person responsible for the tasks.

For example, if you’re dealing with passive engineers, the workflow should clearly explain when and how they need to jump into the process. With a clear workflow, the SMEs can set aside time for content creation and integrate the schedule into their daily or weekly routine.

6. Provide supporting resources

The human brain is programmed to choose tasks that require minimal effort. That’s why people are always looking for “life hacks” and shortcuts to get things done easily.

Likewise, your engineers would probably prefer additional design work rather than any work outside their expertise that involves a learning curve.

As a marketer, you can shorten the learning curve by providing supporting resources to get them on board with content marketing.

In addition to providing the required resources, you’ll need to make the content creation process as easy and seamless as possible. If you have done steps 2 and 3, your SME is already bought into the topic and has a rough outline, making things easier for them.

But a lot of engineers aren’t writers. They have no idea of the content world and little interest in SEO. Provide timely resources that’ll get them on board. Schedule 10-minute meetings to take them through the content creation process and what’s expected of them. Coach them on the qualities of a great piece over lunch break.

7. Establish an ongoing relationship

Getting to know the experts on a personal level and forming a genuine friendship with them can make the relationship much easier.

It’s vital that you establish an ongoing rapport and relationship with the engineers or any other SME you work with when creating content.

Here’s why.

If you have a solid relationship with someone, they’ll be more than happy to support your content marketing efforts and contribute more in the future. And when you have an ongoing rapport with an engineer, they could even introduce you to other engineers in the field that you may otherwise not have access to.

When you forge a working relationship with them, listen to them, find out what brings them joy, and work out how you can channel this joy into your marketing.

8. Make the most of their time

According to a recent Skyword research, companies usually experience trouble getting SMEs on board with marketing. Here’s why. SMEs are often busy. Getting them to commit to writing might take time and effort.

As such, you’ll want to approach your engineers with a thought-out plan that respects and maximises their time.

Brief them on your content calendar, outlining your content marketing goals, intended audience, and the impact the content will have on their personal brand and business. This will help them understand why participating in content is worth their investment.

Try and find ways to make their content-creating journey frictionless and educational. For instance, you could:

  • Pair them with ghostwriters. If your engineers want a byline but don’t have enough time to write the content, a ghostwriter can interview them, highlight the key points, and produce a polished copy based on those insights.
  • Create templates or standardised briefs. These briefs should be comprehensive enough to cover everything the writer will discuss in the blog or article.
  • Make it easy for them to share content:  you could create social copy for them or share ideas on how they can leverage the content they helped create.

These are just a few examples. As your engineers get used to writing, take the time to finetune the workflow to make the process easier and more polished.

9. Show them the power of the format

You could have a stellar copy with priceless information not available elsewhere online.

But if it’s not structured in a format that’s easy for the reader to digest, it might not even be read.

So, when teaching your internal experts how to write and optimise the content for search engines, don’t forget the power of the format.

Good formatting can make the difference between success and failure in content marketing.

Short paragraphs with two or three sentences, bullet points and numbered lists help to break up a ‘wall of text’.

Bottom line: Educate your SMEs on the content format to adopt and why it matters in your niche. Show them how to create content that resonates using the power of the format, following industry best practices.

engineer testing batteries

10. Write something yourself and let them edit it

If you have some ideas or initial content to go on, writing the draft and letting them react to it might be a faster way to get what you need.

As mentioned, some employees are busy and might not find time to brainstorm ideas. Others might have the ideas but might be holding onto them for one reason or the other. Offering them an initial draft can give them a tangible place to start and avoids the ‘blank page writer’s block’ that can make it hard to get started.

This approach can work particularly well for engineers who are at the top of the food chain in your business and are used to editing or directing other people’s work.

11. Involve them in your regular marketing reviews

Want to make your engineers feel like a part of the team? Involve them in your performance review so they can see how what they are doing is helping the company.

By showcasing wins, congratulating them, and letting them know where they can offer additional value, your experts will begin seeing their role in a new light. Plus, it never hurts to show them that 3,000 people read their content or watched their interview video!

Just be prepared for them to ask, “OK, how do we get to 10,000 views?” A question like that shows they’re eager to contribute and willing to learn more, which is a win for you.

12. Show your engineers what’s in it for them

If you ask an engineer to contribute to your content piece, you’re taking up time that they would otherwise be spending working on their key projects.

So, if you can prove to them that their effort will be worthwhile or that they’ll benefit from it in some way, you’re most likely to succeed with your pitches.

So, how do you reward your SMEs?

Mention their names when you share the content via the brand’s social media accounts. Let them take the credit for sharing their unique insights. This can help promote their personal brand and give them more visibility with their peers.

Wrapping Up

Our brain’s natural authority bias causes customers to be swayed by opinions offered by people we think are an authority in different niches, such as people with high education levels or extensive experience in specific fields.

By leveraging these authority figures and experts in your content creation, you can expand your reach and grow brand authority.

Involving experts in your content creation process can also help you develop more influential content, rendering your business new credibility, authority, and authenticity.

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