By now, everyone in the world of marketing knows how effective great content can be at turning readers into buyers. But what makes great content? If you search “great content tips,” Google returns 594 million results. Most of these tutorials offer clichéd advice about the power of images and video, avoiding salesy language, and positioning yourself as an authority. All of this is true. But in the era of content marketing, you have to think outside the box if you really want your content to stand out.
Be Informal or (Appropriately) Funny
It is natural to err on the side of being too conservative if you're trying to position yourself as an authority, which great content should always do. But the result is often content that is dry, overly formal and textbook-like.
You have a great opportunity to let your business' human side shine through in your content. As long as you present the facts and get your point across, warm, informal text is much more inviting than copy that reads like an owner's manual.
But be mindful that you are walking a fine line. Injecting humor or being self-deprecating where it is natural and appropriate can liven up an otherwise dry piece and help your audience look past your corporate logo to see the people behind the brand.
But when humor is forced, contrived or even offensive, all is lost. Think of the silly Geico commercials on TV. Insurance is a dull business. Geico found a way to stand out in a crowded, competitive field by launching a campaign of funny commercials that reinforce their main selling point (saving 15 percent in 15 minutes). As a bonus, they included a mascot whose species (gecko) reminds customers of their brand name.
For businesses offering professional services, such as architectural or management consulting firms, humor can also serve to help you become memorable in the minds of your target audience. Finding the balance between humor and professionalism, however, is key.
Expert Interviews: Yeah, What He Said
Some of the most compelling content also happens to be some of the easiest content to create. If you are a construction firm offering kitchen renovations, it's one thing if you write an article about how renovating your kitchen can improve the value of your home. But if you can get a realtor to write a case study about the increase in value of recently sold homes with renovated kitchens, you've got instant credibility.
Experts can come from anywhere, including the worlds of academia, government and industry. Many of them will be glad to speak on the record and share their experiences, knowledge and passion with your readers. Do your research and find out who the influencers are in your industry that you could interview.
After the interview, craft your piece of content in an honest way that genuinely reflects the expert's point of view and helps position your services as a solution. You can bombard people all day with statistics about kitchen renovations, but it means a lot more when you have direct quotes from someone who has direct experience supported by numbers and results.
Love the Lists
One of the oldest tricks in the content writing book is to break up text into manageable chunks. People scan before they read. If someone sees a huge block of text, they are instantly reminded of their high school textbooks and they're gone before you ever knew they were there.
The tutorials recommend subheads and bullet points. But one of the most underrated tools for making text readable is to break down your subject into a numbered list. Even subjects that are typically classified as boring can be turned into something interesting if it becomes a list with strong supporting visuals. The copy will look much more digestible to someone who scans the page before deciding whether or not to dive in.
Remember that content is the crossroads of journalism and advertising — and that everybody loves lists. If you offer accounting services, why not offer a list about 35 ways a professional accountant can help your business save money? Or 100 mistakes business owners make when submitting taxes? Short lists are acceptable, but longer, more in-depth lists can be even more compelling.
Lists make content fun and digestible — and they look as good as subheads or bullets at a glance. Pick up the phone and call an expert in your field to back up whatever it is you're trying to say. Unless the subject matter is inherently serious, don't be afraid to take a chance and go for humor, or at least to soften the formal edges. Content should inform and, yes, position you as an authority. But it is also a great way introduce your readers to the human beings behind the brand.
- Download Hinge’s Content Marketing Guide for Professional Services Firms for tips on creating content that builds credibility and demonstrates expertise.
- Get a copy of our Online Marketing for Professional Services book to learn techniques that will generate more leads and increase awareness of your firm.
- Join us on LinkedIn for more insights and resources on content marketing.
How Hinge Can Help
Content marketing is an integral part of many professional services firms' strategies today. The Visible Firm℠ is the leading marketing program for delivering greater visibility, growth, and profits. This customized program will identify the most practical offline and online marketing tools your firm will need to gain new clients and reach new heights.