Professional Service Business Development: What is a Content Marketing Strategy?

In a down economy, competition among professorial service providers such as attorneys, CPAs, and the financial services is at an all time high.  If you are looking to add a business development advantage that your competition probably hasn’t heard of – think about a content marketing strategy.

In short, content marketing refers to the technique of crafting and distributing content (relevant to a potential issue) to potential clients with the goal of converting them to a sales function, whether it’s a call, return business, or a click to your website.  The strategy aspect refers to the content type, schedule, delivery method that you use.

What is ‘content’?

Content can be anything valuable to a potential client that would cause them to contact or read more about you.  It can take the form of an article, a newsletter, a tip, video, or a tweet.  The method of delivery can be anything – the important thing being to make sure that your content is where your clients are.  The skill lies in where, how often, and what you publish.

Selecting what to publish

When you are thinking about what type of content your clients are interested in, there are a couple of things to take into account.  First, think about what kind of information is useful and unique to them.  You don’t want to  write about issues that have already been widely answered or can be found elsewhere.  If you are competing with established sources of information, your content will likely become white noise.  What you need to think about offering is unique content in the form of advice, a perspective, or new information.  If you are a CPA and your client base consists of business owners for instance, you may want to write about ‘expenses you didn’t know you could deduct’, or ‘increasing valuation by ______’. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients and write about the issues that they ask you about or often seem to need clarification on.  The second main point to keep in mind when authoring content is to keep it as sales-soft as possible.

The goal is to create information that is useful to your buyer and arms them with information that can make them more successful   In return, you will be rewarded with brand awareness and brand loyalty.

Selecting where to publish

Obviously, your audience is the number one factor in selecting where to publish content.  Try and get your content published where your potential customers are.  You should use a blend of off-site and on-site destinations, meaning that you can balance newsletter quick tips, social posts, off-site publishing and on-site publishing to help stay front of mind.  A second consideration is the format and length of your content.  Again, your audience should be the a contribution factor in these decisions as well.  If your audience consists of busy CEOs, perhaps a shorter length format that is easy to scan for useful information would be useful.  For this audience, you may want to use Tweets or quick hit read-and-delete style emails with useful tips or anecdotal business stories.  If your industry is highly-technical, perhaps whitepapers published by newsletter and on-site would help convey authority on your topics.  No one should understand your client-base better than you, put yourself in their shoes and their attention spans.

Some other thing you should consider when deciding where to publish your content is the strategy that you want to both hit different audiences but also have multiple drips on high-value targets.  If you have the opportunity to be featured in a well-traveled website or magazine, you should go for it, regardless of the time involved in writing an article.  The value of a prospect that you have been dripping on through a mailing list or Twitter following seeing your name in a big-name source is immeasurable.  Think of it as instant validation of your knowledge and authority – and if the source is popular enough, chances are good that those on your mailing list will see it.  If your phone is not ringing off the hook with writing opportunities, try reaching out to popular industry and demographic sources with article topics and short writeups.

Do some research

Websites such as Alexa.com and Klout.com can tell you about how much traffic (Alexa) and social sharing (Klout) web presences have.  If you are seeking an outlet in an industry that you may not know well, check those sites to see who are the major websites and influencers in the space.

Selecting the frequency with which to publish

The balance here is to temper how often you think you should publish with how often you can publish.  In my experiences, it is good to publish three-to-four short articles per month or one-to-two longer style articles.  If you are combining your content strategy with an SEO or social media strategy, it might require you to publish more often.

The overall key here is to come up with a strategy and schedule and stick to it.  Set goals for yourself and make time to meet those goals.  As a content marketing strategy matures and begins to gain momentum, you may very well have people reaching out to you for content.  Make sure that as you gain traction and exposure that you do not let your momentum cool off – there are always new prospects who haven’t heard about you how can help them yet.

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