We’ve discussed how professional services buyers are turning to the Internet for expertise, why business development insights (or expertise) are so critical to their firms, and how content marketing can help you share your knowledge and generate leads.
Now, the question is how business developers can collaborate with the marketing department to effectively project their expertise.
Before you start to consider your collaboration, you should take stock of the expertise you have to offer – and your firm’s current marketing efforts.
In Part 2 of this series, we discussed how you can identify areas of your expertise relevant to your audience. Often, industry knowledge that you take for granted – the background necessary to do business – is in fact a valuable resource to your target audience.
After examining your own areas of expertise, you should have determined which of your specialties are relevant to your potential clients’ areas of need or interest. These are topics on which you can offer educational insight and help solve problems faced by your target audience.
Now it’s time to assess your firm’s marketing efforts. Check your firm’s website – the whole thing – for material that relates to your expertise. Look at any articles or whitepapers, videos or blog posts that appear on your site. Take notes on this content, answering questions like:
- Who is the listed author?
- Is the content original or syndicated? Can you tell?
- Is it easy to find?
- Is it being shared on social media?
- How often is new material posted?
- Is the content engaging?
Make note of the types of content your firm is producing, and the topics covered. Consider how the site covers your area of expertise (if at all). Are there gaps between your understanding of clients’ problems and how they’re presented on the site? Are there missed opportunities for content on the site?
Once you understand which topics you’re covering, how you’ve covering them, and what you’re not covering at all, then you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Getting the Team Together
As an experiment, it can be useful to search online for phrases and questions that clients would likely ask to find your firm, and your specialty. (Don’t, however, search for your company name. Many prospective clients won’t know who you are.)
What comes up? Odds are, you’ll find all sorts of alternatives to your website. Your firm may not show up in the results at all. If you need to sell your own team on a collaboration between business development specialists and the marketing department, seeing the potential client experience like this can make for a powerful argument.
Once your decision-makers are onboard, it’s time to create a team that includes marketing, website administration, and another sales specialist. The team’s primary goal is to realize the website’s potential to be a 24/7 lead generation machine. You’ll need insight from marketing on the most effective tools and types of content to use.
Next, your team needs to specifically identify your ideal prospects, as well as their top issues. Your site should reflect the fact that you serve this audience, and should make it clear that you understand their issues, both through website copy and educational content. This is where you come in. Your experience, lessons learned, successes, and losses all are rich data that can inform your firm’s online presence through copy, blogs, even the images on the site.
Moving Forward with Content
At this stage, you should ensure that your team is committed to producing content in an ongoing way. Content marketing doesn’t work overnight – it succeeds through sustained effort. Note that some firms rely on practice leads to “do” traditional business development activities such as in-person networking. Another approach is for practice leads to continuously develop content in their areas of expertise. Engage in both activities, and you’ll get farther ahead.
Once your team is committed, here are a few ways you can help shape relevant content to attract prospects and build a more successful website:
- Identify your typical prospect type
- Isolate 5-6 key concerns per prospect type
- Identify areas of specialty – from a prospect’s perspective rather than a service perspective
- Identify field-facing personnel fluent in the business “language” your ideal customer speaks
With this information in hand, your team will then need to interview subject matter experts on your identified topics and then produce regular content. The most effective integrated teams share several characteristics that differentiate them from traditional sales and marketing side-by-side efforts:
- A hand-picked team of BD/marketing personnel
- Regular team meetings
- A detailed content calendar
- Regular review of the website’s structure and functionality
- The necessary funding to make needed website changes
With the organizational support to produce quality educational content in an ongoing way, your firm will have everything you need to raise your visibility among potential clients — and achieve higher and higher rankings on their Google searches. And with integrated sales and marketing expertise, you can make sure that your content is driven by the real needs of real clients. By strategically coordinating your departmental efforts, you’ll be amazed at how much more efficient your firm can be.
Download our Content Marketing Guide for Professional Services to find out more about developing a successful content marketing campaign.