A whole new process is revolutionizing the way professional services firms find new clients. We call it the B2B Content Marketing Model and it’s rooted in an extensive research study of Online Marketing for Professional Services Firms.
As in traditional professional services marketing, trust and expertise are still important. But these days, time on the golf course and personal referrals aren’t the only paths to building relationships. Firms are also building trusting relationships by sharing valuable content and engaging potential clients online.
Busy executives want answers, and they want them now. They want to find out more on the issues and possible solutions relevant to their fields. But they don’t want to waste precious time doing it.
The B2B Content Marketing Model Defined
The B2B Content Marketing Model focuses on building trust and engagement one step at a time. That process is illustrated below.
The process starts when you attract people to your website with useful, engaging content that is relevant to target clients’ interests and needs. Such content shows your expertise.
When the content proves useful, potential clients will want more. By offering visitors more valuable and in-depth content, you encourage them to share their contact information with you. Each email address you receive is your first “conversion” (a potential client). It’s the start of a two-way dialogue where you can offer still more engaging and in-depth content via email.
Potential clients who remain interested and engaged will take the next step at some point, allowing for more discussion. Perhaps they will respond to an offer for a free consultation or a product demo.
Finally, a certain percentage of these prospects will ask for proposals, and you’ll have an opportunity to convert them into clients. Each step in the process has allowed them to gain trust in you and learn about your expertise by “sampling” it.
Along the way, you have also been indirectly qualifying them as potential clients. If your content is relevant to them through progressive stages of the buying process, they are qualifying themselves through their continued interest.
The beauty of the model is that potential clients each progress at the pace that is right for their situation. You are not chasing people, trying to “sell them something.” They are taking the next steps when they are ready.
So how do you put this model in place? There are three basic processes that work together. Let’s look at each in turn.
The Three Content Marketing Processes
1. Create. You start by developing content that interests prospects at various stages of the buying process.
How do you know what type of content to produce? That’s where research comes in—study your clients and their needs. It’s also essential to research keywords in order to make your content easy to find online.
Additionally, be sure you understand and use your website analytics. These tools help pinpoint what topics are of interest to visitors and where your traffic is coming from. Taken together, this information helps you zero in on the most significant and valuable content.
2. Promote. Next, you promote that useful content through a wide variety of channels. Here is where social media really adds value. Great content and social media sharing go perfectly hand in hand.
Content is also very well suited to improving search engine rankings. Each blog post represents another long-tail keyword ranking opportunity. That’s why SEO considerations are so integral to the process of creating content. It allows potential clients to locate you and your valuable content.
Don’t neglect using your marketing partners to promote your content as well. Their support can help extend your reach and integrate online and offline efforts.
Finally, keep in mind that sharing new content is also an effective way to nurture your existing leads. Promote new content through newsletters, email, webinars, and the like.
3. Convert. The third key process is converting visitors into clients. You convert a visitor by presenting those offers that move them up the scale of engagement.
For example, someone reading a blog post may see an offer to download an ebook relevant to that specific post’s topic. Because they are interested in learning more on the topic, they decide to download the ebook. In exchange you get an email address that allows you to offer more engaging content.
The ebook may contain an offer for a free consultation or a free assessment that the reader eventually pursues. In this way, you continually present opportunities for greater levels of interaction and engagement.
Here is where AB testing, web analytics and usability testing will help you optimize your lead generation process. The information they provide enhances your ability to systematically move prospects up the scale of engagement.
B2B content marketing is simple in concept but can be confusing in practice. Where do I start? Which tools do I need? How do all of these tools fit together? Hopefully this model helps put them into a practical working context.
The advantages of online marketing start with your content. Implemented in isolation, these marketing techniques can produce a lot of frustration and wasted effort. But used in concert, within an easily understood model, they can establish a lead generation process that drives both faster growth and greater firm profitability.