Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are those that have a deep understanding of a particular field, job, process, material, or any other specific area. This expertise comes from years (If not decades) working with the subject matter at hand. Likely, the individual has advanced degrees pertaining to their subject while also engaging in continuous education to ensure they remain an expert. There are SMEs for practically every type of job in the world, from scientists who study particular chemicals to information technologists who can data mine in ways others don’t have the time to learn, et cetera.
SMEs hold the same importance in the food and beverage industry and working with them is an something you should not only consider, but actively engage in for several reasons. We will dive into some of the top motives below.
While it may seem like a large cost upfront, in the long run you will, ideally, save money. Working with a SME means they are already dialed into the topic at hand and can work quickly and efficiently compared to those that do not have the same skillset. This also likely means the project will be finished sooner.
SMEs are used in very particular capacities. While you as the owner of a brand may universally understand the creation and processes, bringing in a SME to address the specifics can elevate the product in ways previously unknown to you. This could mean bringing in a soil expert to examine how best to utilize your vineyards or working with a cooper on a specific toast or char for a barrel to fully express the flavor of the bourbon inside. You might also use a SME on the business side. Bringing in a social media expert, for example to target consumers in new ways to grow engagement across your platforms will take less time than training a current team member who already has a full plate of projects. No matter the type of issue you need to work on, there will be a SME for it.
Authority and Authenticity
SMEs spend years refining their knowledge of a particular subject. In that time, they may publish articles or books, or speak at conferences on the topic. Doing so causes their renown to grow as they are seen time and again as the person to go to. When choosing to work with a SME, you have the opportunity to have that name attached to your own project or brand. This is not a be-all, end-all, of course – you will still need a quality product – but between your product and the SME’s reputation, you have the opportunity to have more eyes on your product and your brand.
Often, working with a Subject Matter Expert will not be a permanent venture. They will offer their expertise and advice for a period of time as they work to solve the specific problem they have been given. In the time you work with them, though, you have the opportunity to gain crucial knowledge for you or your staff from the SME. You can work with them to provide training for interested or necessary parties on the SME’s field. This, too, could lead to working with the SME on developing training for after they depart so that future employees are offered the same sort of education even when the SME is not around.
Of course, working with SMEs may not solve all your problems. If you are dealing with broader organizational or systemic issues, a SME’s depth of knowledge may not be able to address the issues at hand. There may be issue outside of their specific field that would interact with their own that could impact the project negatively.
No matter what type of issue you are experiencing, brining in SMEs can be valuable and insightful. Finding the right person can, in some cases, dramatically aid in solving problems or growing your brand in new or different ways.
If you are interested in implementing any of these solutions, we can help. Feel free to reach out to us.