Professional services marketing has changed dramatically over the past 5 years. These changes have been precipitated by new marketing tactics such as search engine marketing, email marketing, social media marketing and mobile marketing. And then there’s content marketing. Not an entirely new marketing tactic in itself, but what is new is that firms are shifting their marketing resources towards content marketing at an unprecedented pace.Content marketing is about providing value to your law firm or accountancy audience. It’s about moving away from the ‘firm-centric’, sales approach, and producing content that educates, entertains and engages ‘relevant’ audiences. This can, among many other things, mean writing client-friendly tips in blog posts, publishing infographics with rich industry insight or producing videos to answer client questions.
However there are still many professional service firms who are reluctant to accommodate more modern marketing practices such as content marketing. I am in touch with many marketing directors and CMO’s who tell me that senior partners are still not buying into the concept. Although most marketers recognise the benefits, management boards may not. Getting them engaged with content marketing can be challenging.
Follow these steps:
Pique their interest – Senior partners need to understand that clients – actual and prospective – are more empowered, impatient and sceptical than ever before. They do their best to ignore ads and are acutely aware of when they are being sold to. Professional service content marketing is sympathetic to this perspective. Content is created by firms to deliver value to the target audience – to become a trusted source of information, to be regarded as an authoritative voice and to create a loyal and engaged following. Ultimately, as your firm publishes high quality content, your followers will share your content, be brand advocates and in time will become educated and rewarding clients.
So if ever there was a marketing tactic which supported the traditional tenets of professional services – trust, integrity, credibility – content marketing is it. Use it to foster engagement and create trust; establish your firm as a thought leader; and expand the reach of your reputation and message through social sharing (online word of mouth).
Management boards love to know what the competition is doing. They are already in the online space and will continue to grow and become harder to beat. You need to be establishing your firm and its practitioners as leaders in the field. Becoming established online within your legal service niche is important and social media is one of the easiest ways to do this.
SEO plays a huge part in boosting organic traffic and that’s obviously an important factor in any content marketing strategy. Social signals are playing an increasingly significant role in providing law firm or accountancy websites with more authority — and that affects where you come in the Google rankings.
By creating content that answers the questions your potential clients have means you can save lawyers valuable time spent answering phone calls. With the right content on your website, the only phone calls your firm should be getting should be warm or hot leads looking to find out more about prices and details before making a purchase. As clients ring and enquire about certain issues, encourage lawyers or accountants to share what they were asked. This could give them the inspiration for the next great piece of content, in the knowledge you will be answering the issues people see as most important.
Measure and analyse – One of the simplest ways to convince your management board that content marketing is the future is by showing them how it contributes to income generation, resulting in profit. Show them how your legal or accountancy competitors are using content marketing to attract potential clients, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of their content. Use your website analytics to monitor the flow of visitors to your website from social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter or organically, and how many convert to leads or sales.
Remember, this is a way to win over any detractors. Begin by highlighting the current situation, and projecting a future position, remembering to under-promise and over-deliver. For example: “Currently we are getting 25 visitors a day to our website which generates 2 leads per week. By embarking upon a content marketing strategy, we would increase visitor rates by 500%, leading to 40 leads per month”. Back this up with your facts.
Show returns – A well-executed content marketing strategy will show returns. However, firms need to examine resources carefully and create a strategy that plays to their strengths. Showing an analytics report to the Managing Partner will just raise more questions than support. Break down the returns into primary, secondary and user metrics.
As primary metrics, the management board will only care about:
1) Is the content driving business for us?
2) Is the content reducing costs?
3) Is the content retaining clients?
It’s these questions that primarily need answering.
As secondary supporting metrics:
1) Is content improving lead quality?
2) Is content increasing lead quantity?
3) Is content making sales cycles shorter?
4) Is content increasing client awareness?
5) Is content increasing cross-selling opportunities?
6) Is content driving positive client feedback?
There are also user metrics that help support the secondary indicators:
1) Is content increasing web traffic?
2) Is content increasing page views?
3) Is content reducing bounce rates?
4) Is content producing re-tweets or social shares?
5) Is content increasing our search engine ranking?
Achieving buy-in from senior partners and management boards is down to the ability of marketers to pique interest, create the desire internally and instigate the requisite action and investment needed to fulfill content marketing ambitions. For me, gaining initial interest is the easy part. Maintaining sufficient interest in the long-term for content marketing to be viable needs a solid business case based on ROI.
When showing the ROI I consider it best to split the areas of return into the three metric areas. I see far too many professional service marketers relying on the ‘user metrics’ to drive senior partner and high level engagement. On their own, they mean nothing. User metrics only really support the secondary metrics. Ultimately, management boards are interested in the primary metrics – but may of course wish to understand how these are being achieved, which is where the secondary supporting metrics come in.
There are no silver bullets. But by approaching content marketing in this way will show how you are having an impact on the business.
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