While there are a lot of good reasons for blogging, many professional services firms are primarily interested in getting new clients. Yet, for many of them, they are not quite sure how to translate blogging into new business.
To begin to address that gap we put together a webinar entitled Blogging for Clients: How Online Relationships Lead to Real World Clients with Kevin McKeown, the President of LexBlog. If you are at all involved in legal marketing you have undoubtedly heard of LexBlog. Together with Kevin O’Keefe, Kevin has developed LexBlog into the authority on blogging and social media for the legal community and beyond. With over 7,000 law blog authors, the LexBlog Network is unrivaled. Check them out.
Based on the overwhelmingly positive response we got to the webinar, I'd like to share some of our top insights here. I reviewed the content we covered and the questions and comments from participants to select my favorite blog marketing tips.
- It’s about relationships. Blogging clearly establishes your expert status. But the real business development power tends to come from the relationships you develop online. These may well be with potential clients directly, but they may also be with potential business partners, referral sources or influencers (such as journalists or other bloggers). Building enduring relationships with the right people builds business development success. It’s not how many, it’s who.
- Blogging is like a Swiss army knife. Blogging is a tool with many uses — from business development to thought leadership to search engine optimization. Think of it as the Swiss army knife of online marketing. It can be used for only one purpose or for several. This brings up the next point.
- Strategy first, tools second. This was one of Kevin’s big points and I could not agree more. At Hinge, we always start with a comprehensive strategy. Although blogging can be very versatile and useful (there’s that Swiss army knife again), not all online strategies require a blog. Blogging is a big commitment of resources, so don’t squander your investment. Do it right for the right reasons or don’t do it at all.
- Listen before you talk. Always good advice, but nowhere more than online. Another of Kevin’s key points, this one reminds me of “that guy” who butts into a conversation to start selling you. I suppose there is a universe somewhere where that is a good idea, but not this one. Online business development is a dialogue. Some folks get fooled into thinking that blogging dialogue means encouraging readers to comment on your posts. Not so much. The real dialogue is you listening to your clients and the world around you and sharing your contribution via your blog.
- Repurpose, repackage and reuse. Think of this as the blog marketing tip that will change your life. Good, insightful, valuable content is not easy to develop. So when you do come up with a gem don’t waste it on a single use. Perhaps you have done some background research for a client (and the results do not compromise confidentiality). Turn that new insight into a series of blog posts. Then turn the blog posts into a guide or a white paper. Do a conference presentation and a webinar on the topic. Publish an article or two in relevant trade publications, Discuss it in your LinkedIn groups. Tweet about it. You get the drift. Not only does this practice not hurt you, it helps spread the message while making your life much easier.
- Be authentic, but get help. The content of your blog should be your own thoughts and represent your firm’s brand. But that does not mean that you must do it all by yourself. It is, in my view, perfectly acceptable to use a professional writer to help you express your ideas, or to hire a coach to help you improve your writing. Be kind to your readers and don’t torture them with dense, jargon-filled posts. This is especially a problem in professional services firms, where jargon tends to run rampant. Marketing directors, listen up. Expertise and the ability to express it in plain language seldom reside within the same skin. Stop pestering your fully billable experts to write a blog post. (Full disclosure: Hinge and LexBlog both provide merciful relief of various forms for this malady).
- This stuff works. While technically not a blog marketing tip, this point should not get overlooked. If done competently, blogging works for professional services firms. Far from being a fad or a gimmick, it can be the centerpiece of an online marketing strategy. Our published research on 500 professional services firms clearly demonstrates that firms with a higher proportion of online new business leads grow faster and are more profitable. Think about that in your next planning meeting. Further, blogging is one of the most highly rated tools in terms of effectiveness.
There you have it, my top blog marketing tips and techniques plus a little ammunition for your next discussion. Here are some free resources for your education and planning:
- The Blogging For Clients Webinar and Slides
- A Guide to Content Marketing for Professional Services
- A free downloadable version of our new book Online Marketing for Professional Services. It is also available in print format from Amazon.