Today, when we think about engaging with a professional services firm to solve a need we have, the obvious first port of call is online, or specifically, a search engine. The same way we might search for a certain model of car, someone to wash the house, or the latest flavoured kombucha, we’re looking online to find professional services providers. In this article, we look at why you should be creating and using thought-provoking content marketing as part of your online promotional strategies.
Content Marketing: The old and the new
Once upon a time, in traditional services marketing, a firm would go out and build awareness and trust through tried-and-true mediums such as networking, referrals and word of mouth. Now there is nothing wrong with these methods – they are all still great for attracting leads, however, they may turn out to be a slow burn, and in order for relationships to be formed and decisions to be made, they could take considerable time.
How does a firm communicate with potential clients in a more direct and engaging way? This is where content marketing comes in. This is a well thought out strategy that highlights thought leadership content through the publication of information based, educational article content. What exactly does this content look like? We’ll get to that in a moment.
By using a content marketing strategy, a firm can reach a much larger virtual audience, interact with them in a more intimate way, and form relationships that build trust and credibility. By consuming regular content from the organisation, potential clients can begin to get to know that firm, see alignment with their values, and ultimately get a bit more comfortable and be willing to do business with them.
As a professional services organisation, it’s important to convey that you are a leader in your field, you know your craft and you know what your potential clients want. In addition to this, writing about key topics that are relevant to your client base builds further trust, engagement, and demonstrates that you understand your clients’ needs fully. The key takeaway from this: a company that produces relevant content and builds a loyal readership will find it easier to close sales.
So, what kind of content should you actually create?
Before you put cursor to Word doc, you’ll need to think about your content strategy, or if you don’t have one, start preparing one! A good content strategy should form an integral part of your overall marketing plan. Aimlessly throwing things up here and there because you think you ‘should’ is not the wisest of strategies. Think about what it is that you really want to achieve – what are your business goals? It is a given that you’ll want to attract leads and increase sales, however what kinds of things can your firm add in to the mix that make it appear more personable and stand out from the rest? If the main goal is to build that all-important trust and credibility, profiling team members and their skill sets, or case studies of successful projects or transactions will work great here. If you want to be seen as an expert in your field, get blogging, show presentations, or write short articles from an authoritative angle.
‘Top 10’ lists or ‘How to’ guides are perfect bite-sized pieces that will be easily consumed by your audience. Think about making them downloadable so they may be kept as a reference. You’ll want to keep them short, information rich, and most of all – free. This process is not recommended to be subscription based – unless you’ve built up a large following over time and the demand for your services is super high.
If you have a bit more time and the tools available, you might like to try recording podcasts or creating quality video content. Apart from these, there are, of course many other ways you can interact with your audience, such as interviews with industry leaders, senior staff members or founders, client case studies, e-newsletters, e-books, white papers, social media posts, and many more.
And remember, as long as your content pieces are not specifically time-bound, you can start building a library of quality content that can be repurposed again and again. A great article that showed a great readership rate when originally posted might be worthwhile reposting at a later date, or, chop it up into bite-sized pieces that can be repurposed for social media and linked to the full article on your website. Directing more traffic to your website or blog site is valuable and can help you identify and target more of those whom you would like to do business with. You’ve put a lot of effort into creating great content, so make sure you utilise it to the fullest.
Why content marketing is so important for Professional Services Firms
Simply put, content is a vital tool to help firms attract and retain quality clients. As mentioned, content can help demonstrate your knowledge and expertise and show yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Allowing potential clients to learn more about your business from a human perspective through social engagement can often be the difference between them liking you and doing business with you or not.
Coming up with ideas for content needn’t be tedious. You may be able to easily think of a number of client problems you solve on a daily or weekly basis. What are some of the most common issues that potential clients may be interested in reading about? Get your colleagues involved – anyone in your team can provide ideas or subjects to start from. Start small and see where the ideas take you. Team members might like to contribute regular pieces relevant to their areas of expertise. Also, ensure you think about SEO keywords – searchability, giving your content new eyes by increasing reach.
Professional Services Firms are often seen to be industry leaders, not because they possess something special, but because of how they are perceived as the best choice in the market. So, if you are wondering what you can do to improve your engagement and ultimately attract new business, think about creating or updating your online content strategy. Giving yourself a competitive advantage might just come down to producing great, thought-provoking content that engages your target audience.
You can get further tips on how to write great content from some leading authors in this article.