One of my favorite TedTalks was given by Simon Sinek. During that talk he states, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. What you do simply proves what you believe.” Every firm operates in a competitive environment, an environment filled with competitors who are good at what they do. Your belief in and passion for what you do is why clients do business with you and your firm. When successfully implementing content marketing, it is imperative to keep the belief in your work and the passion for serving clients at the forefront.
At its most basic, content marketing is the art of communicating with clients and prospects WITHOUT selling. Instead of pitching your services, you are delivering information and ideas to help your audience become more informed, educated, and even curious (tell me more) about that specific topic. While content marketing should be “non-salesy,” it is still a marketing tool with two objectives: to build trust and position your firm as knowledge leaders.
Frequency and quality of content are important factors to consider when building a content marketing strategy. For firms that do not have unlimited funds or resources to allocate to content marketing, remember that content trumps frequency every time. In other words, if your readers find the content useful, informative, educational, etc., then frequency is less important.
The following six steps are key to developing a strategy that builds greater levels of trust with your audience.
Start with the basics. Understand your audience. Who are they? What are their challenges or issues (aka, pain points)? It is much easier to build trust (and ultimately) revenue when you deliver the right content. Dive in deep. Know their educational background, likes and dislikes, and, most importantly, the type of content that is most valuable to them (detailed research, opinion papers, guidelines, checklists, case studies).
The next step is to understand what you want to gain from this effort. Is your firm entering a new target market with a need to build brand awareness? Is the objective to increase referrals? To position you or others within your firm as a subject matter experts? To fill the pipeline with qualified leads? Think about your firm’s annual plan and track the content marketing efforts to those goals.
Even the largest firms do not have unlimited resources. To get the most from a content marketing strategy, the key is to leverage each item developed. Industry standards state that one piece of content can typically be leveraged to produce five additional pieces of content. For example, one article may produce an additional article, checklist, webinar, podcast, infographic, video content, and multiple social posts. You can also leverage the article by adding a case study or additional research.
Even the best content will not produce results if its intended audience never sees it. Understand your audience’s preferences – how, when and where they prefer to receive content. Do they prefer content delivered via email or would they rather pull content from social feeds? Do they like articles, graphs, infographics, or video? Is the content better delivered in short bursts with greater frequency or is your target audience more in tune with lengthier content with adequate time in between to read and study the information? Once you have determined the frequency, then evaluate whether or not your firm has the time and resources needed to maintain the desired frequency.
An important part of any content marketing strategy is to build awareness. Market the content on your firm’s social channels, add a link to e-signatures. Promote it at conferences and events. Send an eblast. Encourage readers to engage with the content through ‘calls to action’ or links for additional or supplemental content. When a reader engages with your content, acknowledge the engagement either by responding on the same social channel or sending an email. Remember to make it easy for readers to connect with you and your firm via email, phone or other means.
As with any marketing effort, analyze the results of the content marketing. Evaluate readership, total views, number of shares and level of engagement. Use the analysis to make adjustments to content, delivery method, timing, type and frequency. A word of caution: unless the content strategy is not working at all, make one or two adjustments versus scrapping the entire strategy and starting over. Making small adjustments allows for a more accurate assessment of what works for your specific audience.
Keep in mind that like anything worth doing, building and implementing a successful content marketing strategy takes time and effort. Whatever you do, keep the content focused on helping your audience.