Content marketing should be old news for professional service firms. But it’s not. Although professional practitioners have used marketing methods such as newsletters, white papers and email marketing in the past to prove and showcase their expertise – other industries are now leaps and bounds ahead in the way they approach content marketing.
Social media has created a generation of professional information creators. Bloggers, micro-bloggers and content producers of all varying abilities within the realms of professional services. But professional service firms are slowly playing catch-up, and the promotion of thought leadership across social media is becoming an important marketing activity for lawyers and accountants.
The problem this creates is that getting content marketing right does require a lot of content to be generated; a labour-intensive and ‘creative’ task that most lawyers or accountants aren’t interested in adding to their daily chores.
But the benefits are huge (read my previous article on Google Authorship for lawyers and accountants). Firms need to aim for shareable content. Create something your audience actually wants to share with their peers. Then you get to generate high volumes of targeted traffic. You can engage with social audiences. It can produce immediate conversions and it encourages brand advocacy.
Here are my tips to give your content the best chance of being shared:
Be consistent – Content marketing requires consistency. Professional service content needs to project a professional image and build trust with an audience. Consistency often boils down to producing detailed editorial calendars or schedules and of course an ability to monitor and keep the schedule up to date. Establish your firm’s primary themes. Identify the types of content you will create: blog, videos, info graphics, webinars, ebooks, case studies.
Be efficient – Content marketing requires efficiency. Your firm needs to choose topics, delegate responsibilities, produce, edit and obtain approval – all in a timely fashion. Firms need to become a well-oiled machine. Determine who is responsible for what. Identify your goals. Build your story. Identify your core distribution channels. Agree a metric and reporting structure. Agree a budget.
Be relevant – Content marketing needs to deliver the right information. Content needs to be more than a sales pitch. Remember, the age of intrusive marketing is over. Does your content solve a ‘current’ problem? Do you have a meaningful point-of-view about ‘trending’ topics? Hone in on your target audience. Review your audience – what are they sharing? re-tweeting? likes? Ask yourself – does your content answer a common client question?
Be engaging – Content needs to engage. Providing relevant content that your audience can relate to is a start. Consider user personas. Web users and email readers typically scan text. Respect the audience reading level. Write with an inverted pyramid style – start with the main conclusion and get progressively more detailed towards the end of the content. Use ‘chunking’ – present information into small pieces or ‘chunks’ to make reading and understanding faster. Use bullets, numbered lists.
Be savvy – Content marketing needs to support your firm’s goals. Keep an eye on the ROI (read my previous blog content marketing for professional services) Have you included a clear call to action? Leave a place for readers to comments. Provide links to other related content.
Be shareable – The whole point of content marketing is for your readers to share your content and put you in touch with readers and contacts outside your existing network and bring them within your reach. Your content needs to be good enough to share. Ask yourself – if I had to pay to print this, would I? Provoke an emotional response. Provide a reason to share. Ask for a share if you have to. Make it easy to share by providing one-touch sharing options for all the major social media sites.
Be found – Your content needs to be found online. Make your content ‘findable’. This might be one for your tech guy. Your content needs to have an h1 tag and preferably two h2 tags. You need to include metadata, including title, descriptors and of course keywords. Ensure you place links to other related content, either external or internal. Remember alt tags for any images that are included.
‘Interrupt marketing’ is failing. Content marketing, publishing content that engages and entertains prospects, often without any reference to products or services, is a highly successful and cost effective method of luring prospects to websites or micro sites. It’s an effective way to encourage visitors to leave behind their contact information, information which you can then utilise via marketing automation technology to take them through the buying journey.
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