How to build your brand authority with expertise-based content

The Rin Hamburgh & Co team is made up of skilled experts with many years of experience. Easy enough to say – but not especially convincing, right? Being an expert is one thing – proving it is quite another.

In the first blog in our series on communicating expertise, we looked at the deceptively simple question: what is an expert? But if you want to build your brand authority, it’s not enough to have expertise in your organisation, you need to prove you have it. Again and again. 

One of the surest ways to do this is to create and consistently publish content that draws upon the expertise in your organisation, but where do you start?


First, you have to define your expertise

Before you can convince others of your expertise – and that might be yours personally or that which is contained within others in your business – you really need to thoroughly understand what that expertise is and be able to clearly define and articulate it.

In part this is a deliberate decision around positioning. The more you (as an individual or brand) specialise – horizontally or vertically – the more concentrated your experience and therefore your expertise becomes. So an app development agency specialising in React Native or working purely with telco brands is going to be better able to serve clients in this area than a general agency, and perceived as more expert by their chosen audience.

But your value proposition may be more nuanced than this and so communicating may not be straightforward. This is why, before you can create a content strategy designed to build your reputation as an expert brand, you need to clarify and communicate your brand message.

What experts need to know about their audience

Of course, communication is as much about who is listening as who is speaking, whether we’re talking about foundational messaging or the content you build upon it. That means you need to have a deep understanding of your audience. 

This is the case across all marketing but in particular, for expertise-based content, you need to think about two things:

1) What is their knowledge base?

As an expert brand, you need to be very clear on how knowledgeable your audience already is – or isn’t – about your subject area. This will determine both where you pitch your content and how high a bar you need to meet to establish that expertise.

Let’s say you’re a private chiropractic clinic looking to create content for your patient audience. They might need to be talked through the basics of what chiropractic medicine is and why it’s beneficial but they’ll probably assume that there is a level of expertise within your practice.

Imagine, however, you’re a chiropractic-led medtech company looking to sell your platform to an audience of orthopaedic surgeons or an NHS trust. That audience is already highly knowledgeable and they’re likely to be much more sceptical about your expertise, so your content will need to work that much harder.

If expertise is high grade cashmere, then expertise-based content is a hand knitted cashmere jumper.

2) How much do they care about?

Another thing you’ll need to know about your audience is which aspects of your expertise they care about. Because there’s a good chance that there’s a very big chunk of it that they literally don’t want to hear about at all.

You (or your subject matter experts, if you’re the marketer in charge of content) might be happy to geek out on spiral dynamics or financial compliance legislation but your audience wants to know how to lead a successful team or get their app processing payments more quickly.

They want to see that you understand how what you do links into their world. How can you make it useful to them? If expertise is high grade cashmere, then expertise-based content is a hand knitted cashmere jumper.

Content strategy for expert-led businesses

Content strategy is too big a subject for us to go into in much detail here. Content pillars, buyer journeys, content categories like ‘how tos’ and ‘roundups’ – that’s content marketing theory 101. If you’re a subject matter expert, these are all things you’re going to need to brush up on, or you’re going to need to hire yourself a marketer.

But marketing knowledge alone isn’t enough to create expertise-based content. The truth is that plenty of brands provide useful content – guidance, education, data, trends, facts – by drawing on the internet and reiterating what other people know. There’s no subject matter expertise present to elevate it.

To imbue your content with that final level of authority, you need one of two things:

Demonstrable experience

The more you can link your content into real life, the more anecdotes and stories and case studies you can thread through your content, the more weight it will have.

For instance, one of our clients is a highly experienced executive search consultant with decades of experience under his belt. Every one of the blog posts we’ve worked on with him has been stuffed so full of detailed real life situations that the reader is left in no doubt as to his lived experience and deeply practical knowledge. It also means his story-filled content stands out when set against the dry explainer content that exists elsewhere in his field.

Original research

This point links back to the first post in our series on communicating expertise and Dr Kneebone’s Master stage, where you’re actually shaping your field.

Another client of ours, a purpose-led HR consultancy with an ESG employee benefits tech platform, recently commissioned a study and worked with us to create a report on how climate conscious employees are, weaving together the data with insights from the subject matter experts within their team.

Now when they’re creating content about how employees are more climate conscious and how leaders need to think about this when they’re choosing their employee benefits, they’re not just regurgitating what everyone else is saying, they actually have something unique that they can refer to.

To create truly rich, effective expertise-based content, you need to involve both subject matter experts and expert marketers from the offset.

The importance of collaboration

We’ve already acknowledged that there are plenty of brands creating content based on what’s already out there. Increasingly, you might argue that they don’t even need marketers to do this work – tools like ChatGPT can do it far more quickly and cheaply (albeit less accurately, in too many cases).

Sadly, there are also plenty of brands stuck at the level of this more generic content because their experts are siloed from the marketing department, who are creating content with only a superficial understanding of what they’re writing about.

To create truly rich, effective expertise-based content, you need to involve both subject matter experts and expert marketers from the offset.

Marketers, it’s your job to become a prospector, mining your expert’s brain for the most valuable seams of gold that you can then shape into content that serves your audience and the brand you’re building. You’ll need to set the strategy and push back when your experts stray from it. Remember, they’re not the marketing authority, you are. More on this in the next blog post in this series on communicating expertise.

And subject matter experts, you need to make yourself available and you also need to respect the expertise your marketer has. You’re creating content, not writing an academic paper or presenting to a handful of peers who are as interested as you are in every nuance of your subject. Your marketer is there to extract and shape the right aspects of your expertise so that it hits key marketing and business objectives.

In our experience, this truly collaborative relationship is hard to achieve – be prepared for the Storming stage of Tuckman’s group development model – but if you can achieve it, you will have the potential to create content that allows your brand to shine out as an expert among your peers and competitors.

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