David Kirkpatrick

Content Marketing: Interviewing internal resources

February 25th, 2014

Marketers, particularly B2B marketers, for the last couple of years have been hammered with the message that content is the key that unlocks all other marketing channels. Sharing quality content makes email messages more likely to be opened and clicked through, makes social media more engaging, and when done correctly, promotes both thought leadership and brand awareness.

Of course, to share great content, you need to have great content.

Here are three of the areas where marketers are commonly instructed to mine for content:

  • White papers, blog posts, videos and podcasts created by the marketing team
  • Third-party experts providing written, audio or visual information
  • Internal expert resources within the company, such as engineers or developers, providing that information

The first is obvious, and creating this sort of content is most likely part of the job description for a marketing position. The second involves some legwork in tracking down those external experts in a particular business space or marketplace, but achieving that third-party validation as part of the content marketing strategy is powerful.

That third area – utilizing the knowledge of internal expert resources – is a resource that is often touted, but actually taking advantage of that resource can be easier said than done.

We’ve reached out to a wide range of content marketing sources who do just that and are sharing their tips for taking advantage of internal experts for content marketing with you in a series of MarketingSherpa Blog posts.

Although the tips cover a number of different tactics, for this post, the focus is on one of the most popular methods of turning that internal knowledge into sharable content – the interview process.

Maureen Jann, Senior Manager, Marketing, Intrepid Learning, offered several tips (you’ll find more in later blog posts), including one covering the interview process:

The “You’re an Expert Now” Method – We have a ghostwriter interview someone based on their expertise and we write the content and send back to the “author” for approval.


Erin Cushing, Social Media/Content Manager, inSegment, a Boston-based digital marketing and advertising agency, had this advice:

The vast majority of our clients are in the B2B space, and while they understand the importance of blogging and content marketing, they feel that they are “unqualified” to create content.

One of my main jobs is to identify potential brand ambassadors and formulate strategies to involve them in the content marketing process.

For example, one of my software clients was addressing a severe gap in original content. I worked with the lead support specialist for the company and in a journalist manner “interviewed” him, asking him about the most frequent questions he fielded from clients, what features of his software product were his favorites, and what the clients he spoke with were most interested in when it comes to the type of software they sell.

This gold mine of information made for a wealth of blog posts, white papers and data sheets. This is just one example of helping internal resources zero in on essential information and craft useful content.


Finally, Lauren Licata, Content Marketing Manager, Base, added steps to take in the interview process:

At most companies, there are many subject-matter experts who are not necessarily writers.

At Base, I work with sales managers, designers and product engineers, and it’s my job to use their expertise to create high-quality content for our customers and readers.

For example, instead of saying, “I need an 800-word blog post about sales insights by Monday,” I might approach a sales manager with some key questions about sales insights and then turn it into a blog post.

So you can see it in action, that’s exactly what I did here, “6 Revealing Questions Every Sales Manager Needs To Ask.”

To be successful with this technique, I would recommend the following tips:

  • Be specific: As a content creator, know what you want out of the piece of content so you can ask the right questions to your subject-matter expert. Don’t go into the interview blind.
  • Respect the subject-matter expert’s time and style: Know if your interviewee prefers to answer questions through email or if they would rather rattle out answers to you in a meeting or over the phone. Adapt to their style.
  • Agree on a timeline: Let the [interviewee] know when your publish date is and when you need your answers by.
  • Get them excited: Once the piece is published, let them know how it did. For example, did it generate a lot of page views? Did it get a lot of comments? Did your company earn any new accounts because of it? If you let them know that their time with you was well spent, they will be more likely to contribute in the future.

These tips should get you started in utilizing internal experts in your content marketing strategy, and keep watch on the MarketingSherpa Blog for additional tactics from more of your content marketing peers.


You may also like

Content Marketing: Tips from your peers on making use of internal resources [Part II of this three-part series]

Content Marketing: Come in with an idea, leave with a blog post [Part III of this three-part series]

Content Marketing: How to manage a change in content on your blog [More from the blogs]

Do You Make These 5 Mistakes in Content Marketing? [More from the blogs]

Content Marketing: Consulting firm nets 388% more leads with 4-step strategy [Case study]

Content Marketing: 3 tips for how to get started [More from the blogs]

David Kirkpatrick

About David Kirkpatrick

David is a reporter for MarketingSherpa and has over twenty years of experience in business journalism, marketing and corporate communications. His published work includes newspaper, magazine and online journalism; website content; full-length ghosted nonfiction; marketing content; and short fiction. He served as producer for the business research horizontal at the original Office.com, regularly reporting on the world of marketing; covered a beat for D/FW TechBiz, a member of the American City Business Journals family; and he provided daily reporting for multiple LocalBusiness.com cities. David’s other media and corporate clients include: USA Today, Oxford Intelligence, GMAC, AOL, Business Development Outlook and C-Level Media, among many others.

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  1. February 28th, 2014 at 11:05 | #1

    Brilliant tips, David! For the non-marketing employees, it is a lot easier to gather information from them with specific questions versus asking for a blog topic/general information which will put them on the spot and leave them fumbling to come up with something.

  2. March 3rd, 2014 at 11:12 | #2

    Whilst there’s no doubt they’re the richest source of data, I’ve found it exceedingly hard to engage internal experts to produce meaningful content. The idea of casually mining them for information through questioning seems great, but is it a sufficiently scalable practice? Compared to the volumes of content we could potentially produce…

  3. David Kirkpatrick
    David Kirkpatrick
    March 3rd, 2014 at 12:17 | #3

    I appreciate the comments, and Kameel you are correct about the difficulty in engaging internal experts for content. Marketers are often told they should be mining all that internal content gold, but not given any concrete way to go about it.

    The interview process is one way to accomplish the goal, and be sure to watch the MarketingSherpa Blog in the coming weeks — we have two more posts on this topic with a number of additional tactics to help get that institutional insight into your content marketing.

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