• A subject-matter expert can bring relevant thought-leadership expertise to your content.
  • Learn what the difference is between a subject matter expert and a content writer.
  • Know when to use one or the other role in your B2B content marketing.

Over the past year the need for personalized content marketing has become a key component in appealing to customers both new and returning. B2B leaders want to be educated, which means that the content must be original, thorough, and relevant to them. The B2B industry also calls for high-quality content that is more technical. Through our agency experience, we’ve found that hiring content writers in clean energy or environmental technology with subject matter expertise delivers the best results. In this article, we discuss how expert-level content writers can work in tandem with subject-matter experts to create B2B content. And we cover the basis of what these two content roles offer.

Subject matter experts definition: What is a subject matter expert? What is a content writer?

A subject matter expert (or SME) is someone who understands an industry and/or product very well. They’re usually CEOs, founders, or basically someone with authority in a business or industry topic. A subject matter expert is often someone with specialized knowledge. 

An example of a subject matter expert might be someone from the photovoltaic installation industry. This subject matter expert could have the title of CEO, Product Manager, or Head of Development. They have in-depth knowledge about photovoltaic paneling, installation, and a holistic picture of renewable energy. Also they would be a great resource as an industry subject-matter expert.

A content writer is someone who is skilled at writing, and will typically have at least a degree in writing such as technical writing or journalism. They use this skill to create content such as blog and social media posts. A writer can research a topic to gain a basic understanding of the topic for a project. A content writer is a valuable component of content creation because they have the vocabulary and experience to craft content that connects with an audience and conveys your ideas clearly.

What is the difference between a subject matter expert and a content writer?

A subject matter expert knows the ins and outs of their industry and/or product. They see the big picture and know the trends of their field, often making them a thought-leader. However, when it comes to putting their knowledge into words they can miss the opportunity to capture their audience’s attention because of their lack of formal experience or education in writing. Also, they might not have the time or energy to write as much content as necessary for their business simply because their job position requires them to do other tasks.

A content writer, on the other hand, has been trained and has experience in writing in many different styles. A writer will know what words to use to achieve the purpose and direction of the piece of content. However, all the research a writer can do won’t make up for the subject matter expert’s knowledge of the industry. They don’t have the education or experience to be a true thought-leader in that particular industry subject which can make it difficult to speak to an experienced B2B audience. 

Because of this, a subject matter expert and content writer can collaborate successfully and rely on each other to make content that connects with and educates their audience.

Subject Matter Experts Vs. Content Writers: How They Improve Your B2B Content
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When do you use a subject matter expert and a content writer? Do you need one or both?

It’s beneficial to use a subject matter expert when you’re working on content that is highly technical, or you’re creating content for bottom-of-the-funnel pain points. Expertise is needed in these instances.

A subject matter expert is a great resource when content needs that touch of authority to describe special industry lingo or ‘behind the scenes’ information. Often, because they’re the founders, or other integral parts of the industry, they have real, hands-on knowledge that’s applicable to content production. Especially when your industry is niche, and your audience knowledgeable of verbiage, having a subject matter expert as part of the writing process is great to give authority to the content. 

A content writer is often in the marketing team, or can be an outside consultant, and works beside the subject matter expert to craft a writing piece. You may need to add a content writer to your team if you recognize that you (1) either don’t have the time to write content, or (2) you aren’t the best writer yourself, and/or are not sure how to proceed with going beyond industry facts to connect with your audience. 

In many instances, having a professional content writer onboard will help make a business’ writing succinct and from a perspective a bit further from the industry or product. In this way, having a content writer with a supportive subject-matter expert to collaborate with will make your content stand out.

What are examples of subject matter experts and content writers?

Here’s an example of how MTC founder, Megan Thudium, is a subject matter expert, and how she uses her subject-matter knowledge to write a content piece on the changes affecting the B2B industry from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A subject-matter expert might be a CEO or founder of a company who, because they’re a thought-leader, see a need within the industry for a new idea. Because they’re knowledgeable about what’s happening in their industry, they can begin to conceptualize an idea that hasn’t been considered yet, or target specific customer pains with their product. This could be a solution to a problem or even predicting the next big trend in the industry.

A content writer puts the information they learn from the subject-matter expert, their research, and their writing skills together to craft an idea into a more digestible article. They add different vocabulary, phrases, and lingo based on their audience. All while maintaining the voice and expertise of the subject matter expert. A content writer can be someone coming from a background in journalism, technical writing, or really any writing field. Check out this article written by our MTC content writer with an expert-level background in the renewable energy sector.

Best practice is to have a writer that has both subject-matter expert knowledge and the ability to write a compelling piece. However, we understand that these individuals are hard to locate in niche B2B industries.

Using subject matter experts’ background knowledge in the industry helps improve SEO, ranks content, and increases credibility and reliability. Here at MTC |The Content Agency, we strive to make content creation easy and meaningful with our combination of subject matter experts and B2B content writers. 

Our promise: “[…] to make content human. We create content to empower forward-thought and to create enlightening experiences—one client and strategy at a time.” It’s a key piece of our philosophy to provide our clients with content that is highly-relevant to the industry and with thought-leadership expertise.

Let’s get writing!

Now you know the difference between the roles of a subject-matter expert and a content writer, and what each role can offer. These two occupations can make a great marketing team and can create highly-valuable B2B content that nurtures, captures, and converts a B2B audience. When choosing an agency partner, make sure to ask about the agency’s writers. Are they experts in their craft? Do they understand your B2B industry? Do they have expert-level background knowledge in your industry? These are important questions to help ensure your project’s success!