You’ve got a kick ass campaign and a million-dollar integrated media plan that’s ready to roll but what would make consumers believe in what you’re saying? As a brand, you might be the expert in marketing your product but when approaching a new topic, you most likely do not have credibility in that space.
Experts have the potential to give the added endorsement your brand needs. They’ve had years of experience researching and working within the space that a client is trying to get into.
- Engaging an expert requires advanced planning but here are some tips to help you
Get to know your expert through research:
One of the initial questions to ask when identifying the right expert is, who does your target audience consider an expert? Is it an academic professor, a coach, a counsellor, or perhaps an education minister?
In the initial brainstorm, create a list of criteria that will help guide your approach. Criteria can range from their profession, accreditation, markets their work covers or the target audience that they’ve had experience with.
At MullenLowe salt, we help our clients identify suitable experts who will add the most value to their campaigns. For a recent project with Closeup, we shortlisted a list of relationship psychologists and academic experts to help us better understand how being free to love can have an impact on one’s emotional well-being.
We scanned through research papers on the subject matter and academic profiles listed on various university databases. You can get a sense of the papers the experts have written through the university’s repository, their CVs and find the best way to get in touch with them – either via their professional email or making a connection through LinkedIn. Also, follow their social media channels to track their latest projects and use that information as a lead in to your introduction. If you’re intending to have the expert front media opportunities, be sure to check if he or she has had experience with interviews and watch videos of their speaking appearances.
You get one shot so make your pitch note relevant:
It’s important to remember experts are not waiting around for you to get in touch with them for a collaboration. They are busy professionals who get inundated with emails from marketers who want to talk to them, tap into their experience and knowledge and work with them. Using the research you have, introduce who you are and the project you’re keen to collaborate on. Collaborate being the key word here! If you’re getting in touch with them on behalf of a client, provide a background on what the company or brand is about. Since you don’t have a non-disclosure agreement in place, you must strike a balance between piquing their interest and divulging too much details of the planning stage. This will indicate you are serious about engaging them and it is not a generic email wasting their time.
- Approach with a specific task
Have a plan of action before reaching out to the expert. Agree in advance with your client an ideal set of deliverables they’d like the expert to be involved in. Which are the must-haves, and which are the optional.
For Closeup, we wanted the expert to contribute a foreword to set the stage for our white paper and appear in a video sharing her expert viewpoint on why it is important to celebrate diversity and inclusion when it comes to relationships.
Requirements will vary for different campaigns. You might want the expert to be present at a media conference or lead a series of on-ground activations. Being clear on these details will give the expert an idea of the level of commitment you’re looking for – whether it is a long term intensive collaboration or a quick and easy keynote that you need to support your launch event. It will also help them to price up their fees more accurately for your client’s consideration. If you have a budget to work with, be upfront about the figure and you can request for a proposal from the expert that best fits your campaign’s needs. If there’s a project the expert has worked on that is similar to yours, reference it and request for a ballpark fee.
- Make it a point to follow up
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. In the initial shortlist, rank the experts accordingly and invest time to follow up with those in the top five.
Following our shortlist, we thought Dr. Holly Parker, an illustrious Harvard professor whose research and blogs focused on the issues of social prejudice and discrimination toward diverse couples echoed Closeup’s purpose beautifully. And we were fortunate to secure her interest from the get go.
If you don’t get a response from the expert immediately, give your first introduction email a few days before you follow up. Work on securing their interest and be open to options as schedules might be conflicting. It’s advisable to have a backup expert just in case the negotiations with your preferred expert falls through.
- Onboarding the expert
You’ve gotten the expert excited and the negotiations went stunningly, what’s next?
Arrange an onboarding session that involves the client and the expert. If the parties are in different parts of the world, a skype video call allows you to put a face to a name and clarify any questions either parties might have. This introduction will form a strong foundation for the collaboration and assure the expert that there is a plan in place and who they can look to throughout the process.
You’re now ready to start co-creating with the expert. Check in regularly to keep the conversation warm and agree in advance on key milestones to ensure the respective deliverables are on track.
Throughout the expert engagement process, give clear briefs on the key messages that you’ve developed for the campaign but refrain from dictating the tone, articulation and the expert’s answers to the tee. They are after all the experts and can offer a fresh perspective that adds to your overall objectives and goals for the campaign.
You can read Dr. Holly’s foreword in Closeup’s Freedom To Love white paper here.