A content marketing plan has become an essential part of business development for many professional services firms, but many of our clients still consider it a tedious chore. Here at Hinge, though, we love our content marketing plan and frequently take it out for dinner and a movie. Here are 5 reasons to start wining and dining your own content marketing plan:

1. If You Build It, They Will Come

A good content marketing plan is like Kevin Costner’s field of dreams, attracting qualified players right to your door. Publishing high quality, relevant, and free content on a regular basis increases engagement with your consumers, creating a self-selective lead-generating system. Once a potential client has found you, your stream of content will help educate and qualify the prospect as they gain an understanding of your brand. The consumers who are interested in your content will keep coming back for more. When they are ready to buy services, they will turn to you.

2. More Bang, Fewer Bucks

Your content marketing plan helps you maximize the work you already do, giving you more bang for your buck. If you’re in the professional services industry, you are already creating PowerPoint decks, white papers, research studies, and other deliverables for your customers. This data is the core around which your content marketing plan revolves. In many instances, creating the actual content marketing—the material pushed out on your corporate blog, e-books, guides, tweets, and newsletters—can be as simple as repackaging the data from these deliverables and tweaking it using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.

3. Expand Your Reach

Your content marketing plan allows you a much greater reach. Traditional marketing relies heavily on personal contact, referrals, and word-of-mouth techniques to spread a firm’s message, making it difficult for professional services firms to break out of local markets. An effective content marketing plan will harness the power of Internet search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, allowing you to reach an audience not bound by geography.

4. All the Cool Kids Have One

All the cool kids have a content marketing plan. And by cool kids, we mean profitable, high growth companies. Our recent study of online marketing for professional services showed that firms that generate 40% or more of their leads online grow 4 times faster than other firms. Unsurprisingly, that growth translates into dollars, as firms that generate more of their leads online are also more profitable. Our study found that high growth firms rely on a range of content marketing tools to build their brand and generate leads. When combined with SEO techniques, these companies have built an effective and inexpensive online lead generation system with a wide reach.

5. Work while you sleep

Unlike your employees, your content marketing plan works 24/7, growing your brand and your customer base simultaneously. And a good piece of content will continue to produce results over time. Here at Hinge, for example, reports that we published two years ago are still generating web traffic, comments, and emails. The trick is to incorporate good SEO practices into your content marketing pieces, so that consumers searching for specific information will find your content.

Like any other relationship, loving your content marketing plan means paying attention to it. To make sure that you are maximizing its potential, your plan will need periodic review, updating, and changes. But our research has demonstrated that it’s worth the investment: if you love your content marketing plan, it will surely love you back, tenfold.

Check out our Content Marketing Guide for tips on creating a top content marketing plan.