“I get that we need to do content. I just don’t have time to come up with ideas and then have to write it. None of us do.”
You’re far from alone. We come across it throughout professional services.
Advisers are too busy with client work, managing teams, etc etc. Add to that the need to write frequently – and well. Frankly, it’s a headache.
But it needs to be done, because for professional service firms, content marketing has the potential to deliver a number of benefits:
- Increasing online visibility
- Generating & nurturing leads
- Showcasing expertise
- Demonstrating thought leadership
- Building positive reputation among stakeholders as trusted and preferred advisers
With 9 out of 10 B2B buyers saying online content has a moderate to major effect on purchasing decisions, (source: CMO Council), content marketing has become a primary pillar for professional service marketing strategies.
But translating this into reality is a different matter.
Generating ideas to fuel a constant flow of quality, relevant content is problematic for firms.
Some firms have turned to buying in canned content, scraping other websites and writing on topics of no interest or relevance to stakeholders just to get material out.
But beware – these are shortcuts and they can cause more harm than good.
Your content should be working hard for you, and delivering against your set objectives – increasing traffic to your website, generating leads etc, without incurring Google penalties for poor online practices.
The focus has to be on deliverable results. This isn’t a tick-box exercise.
It’s killer ideas you need to make your content stand out.
So what can firms do to ease the burden of generating ideas, and importantly – to ensure these ideas will have the required stakeholder impact?
How to make your content ideas on-point
1. Data is power
You are here to meet specific needs of target audiences. Your content needs to align to this. So start by understanding what it is users are looking for. What are they searching for online? What are they showing interest in?
Use keyword insight for ideas for content. No need for guesswork or head scratching or blank Word documents.
Your inhouse team or agency should be using online tools to access data relating to online user behaviour.
But while having access to tons of data is great – it’s what you do with it that matters.
Commercial and market insight are critical on the part of whoever is interpreting the data for your specific purpose, otherwise you may end up wasting time and opportunities.
For example, the specific search terms that people are using can be highly indicative of where they are in the buying cycle. This should allow you to segment search terms and generate content that mirrors user intent at each stage of the purchasing cycle.
It can become all-too easy to lose focus among the sea of data sets. There needs to be a degree of discipline to retain focus on objectives. This isn’t a vanity project, your content has to drive toward your objectives. Again, an understanding of your market and user purchasing behaviours will provide the critical context in ascertaining what is relevant and what is not, and how to leverage the insight for killer content.To discuss ways to improve your content marketing, contact us.
2. Take on the competition
In addition to identifying user trends, you should be using online data to understand what your competition is doing.
Let’s be clear though that the motivation here is not to mimic – quite the opposite. You are looking to identify gaps.
Approach competitor activity from a contrary position. Turn it on its head. Question it. Do it differently. Make it better.
3. Your own insight
Frontline insight has tremendous value. Use it. Share it!
What are clients asking you about? What are the issues coming across your desk? What’s on the horizon?
These issues will resonate more broadly with your target audiences.
Bringing this together with user insight and competitor research – you have a powerful combination.
4. Repurpose your content
What formats are you using for your content? Blogs? Visuals such as infographics? Video, long form articles, white papers?
Platforms may dictate format e.g. Instagram for visuals, but the driver is to offer users the choice of how they would like to consume your content. And by taking the same idea and presenting it in multiple formats, you benefit from getting more out of the same.
5. Update your old posts
It’s a worthwhile exercise to schedule reviews of your existing posts.
Things change, and while you may rely on visitors to check the date of a post – you should really do the hard work for them.
It’s also damaging reputation-wise if out of date content is accessible.
If a page has built up traffic and is ranking well – you will want to ensure it stays relevant and accurate. Make reference on the page to the content having been updated. This will reflect well on you as being an up to date, reliable and diligent source of information.
6. Keep an editorial calendar
Perhaps the most obvious point, but remiss to omit.
Planning should be central to any marketing activity, and content is no exception.
A content schedule should act as the framework for content production and distribution, and include key dates relevant to your subject matters – Budget announcement, new planned legislation, seasonal events etc, as well as your own original ideas.
The schedule should also provide some flexibility to account for news, developments and trends that you will want to contribute to.
Fundamentally, the schedule should provide a shared point of reference across all involved in the content production and management process.
Getting it right
Content marketing is neither quick nor easy. To do it well takes time and thought and effort. But there are ways you can be smart about how you approach content generation without cutting corners or compromising on quality and impact.
I have over ten years’ experience improving visibility and managing corporate reputation for professional service firms through content marketing programmes that work.
If you would like to discuss ways to improve your firm’s content programme, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also follow me on Twitter.
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