This past week Hinge offered a webinar on planning a professional services firms’ content marketing. This blog post is an overview of what was covered in the webinar. A complete Content Marketing Guide is available as a free download.
The webinar focused on three primary areas:
- Create the Content
- Create the Content Marketing Calendar
- Create Visible ExpertsSM with Your Content
According to our webinar poll, 69% of webinar attendees did not have a content marketing plan. (Note: At the time this webinar was offered, it attracted 400+ registrants with approximately 50% live attendance).
Having read this blog post, you will likely conclude that content marketing definitely needs careful and thoughtful planning. This overview will help you start the process of developing it. Let’s dive right in.
Part I: Create Good Content
When the term “content” is mentioned, various configurations come to mind. However, the content we are referring to is the “educational content that is published to your website in an attempt to attract and nurture targeted web visitors.” And in order to be good, it must be educational.
Moreover, good content marketing is about providing your prospects with what they are looking for in various stages of the buying process. Really study your clients and their needs. Research what it is they are searching for online. Use the terms they are using. That way, they will find you!
While content marketing can take various forms, make sure you use the right mix of content to offer to your readership (a.k.a your prospects)
- Blog Posts
- Videos and Webinars
- White Papers
- Kits and Guides
- Research Reports
Once good content is created, it must be shared. The likely avenues are social media, newsletters, email, pay per click advertising and search engine optimization. After all, the objective of content marketing is to build trust through engagement.
Part II: Create the Content Marketing Calendar
Creating the content marketing calendar requires professional services firms to:
- Capture & Assess
Let’s look at how these play out.
- Capture & Assess:
To effectively move forward, one must first look back, capture insights and assess performance.
Start out by looking outside of your firm. This will help you identify the right topics to relate to the firm’s areas of expertise. Consider industry trends. What are the areas where there is buzz? Big data? Succession planning? Energy efficiency? Cloud services? How do they stack up against what your firm does well?
Then, look inside to your services, industries and target audiences. Critically assess the kinds of content that your firm can create related to the buzz topics.
For example, does your firm have case stories that demonstrate how an engineering approach can contribute to the creation of levees in coastal areas? Or, how business intelligence technologies can help educational institutions maximize their campus footprint to drive financial ROI?
The objective is to see how your services can relate to trends and issues in your industry. The result is content marketing fodder that can be turned into valuable content.
Professional services firms can use content to nurture their target audiences and move their prospects through the various business development stages.
Strategy development is such an important step. You need to plan, plan, plan! And here is why.
During the webinar, we also asked attendees what their greatest challenge is, as related to content marketing. Identifying resources was the top response.
Firms are busy. They struggle with staffing the creation of content. Hinge is here to help! While will get to the resources in a short minute, here is a way to minimize the amount of work. Repurpose! Consider all of the ways that a single piece of content can be used. For example, for every issue/trend/topic of interest – consider all of the formats that can communicate your insights. For topic XX, can you offer a webinar + develop a blog post that highlights the webinar discussion + use the content to develop a guide + use the content as material for a speaking engagement?
One topic = webinar + blog post + guide + speaking engagement.
Another strategy that will help with resource planning is to identify a theme per quarter. Or consider identifying a key topic per month.
Having identified the right topics and formats, you can now determine the content creators. They can be found in-house or externally. Consider the following:
- Technical professionals
- Marketing staff
- Guest speakers/writers
- Industry influencers
- Outsourced marketing staff
We cannot stress enough that, in addition to quality, the frequency of your content is essential to content marketing success. You need a way to track your efforts as well as a way to implement the strategy you worked so hard on. We use Excel as a tool to develop and maintain our content marketing calendar.
When it comes to adjusting your strategy, SEO is crucial.
- Conduct keyword research
- Create and post/share content
- Optimize web page with keyword phrase
- Build inbound links to page
- Track rankings of page
Above all, are the keywords that are influencing your content make sense to your business? Is someone searching this likely to be in your target audience?
You can track results by looking at:
- Traffic from organic search (by keyword)
- Conversions (soft and hard)
- New Business
At the end of the day, there are valid reasons for creating fresh, educational content. These reasons include:
- Attract Search Engine Traffic
- Use as Social Media Currency
- Educate and Nurture Prospects
- Qualify Leads
- Build Trust
After all, by building trust through content, your professional services staff can enhance their path to becoming visible experts.
Part III: Creating Visible ExpertsSM with Your Content
In professional services, Visible ExpertsSM are individuals with high visibility and acknowledged expertise who can command influence within a specific target audience.
We asked webinar attendees about the potential of Visible Experts within their firms. Not surprisingly, 88% of firms have the right experts. Content marketing can make them visible.
Content allows technical professionals to speak to their expertise without being “salesy”, it can serve as a platform for reaching greater numbers and it lends itself for capturing the personality of the expert through various formats. The benefits are endless:
- Increase firm visibility
- Attract new clients
- Command higher fees
- Strengthen firm’s brand
- Attract strong partners
To conclude, it is hard to underestimate the importance of content marketing for professional services firms today. Planning content marketing can be an overwhelming task. We hope that this blog post will give you the right tools to start the process. Be sure to refer to our free Content Marketing Guide. It will help you develop the right strategy! Also, you can catch a recording of the content marketing planning webinar on our website.