An increasing amount of professional services firms have taken content marketing as an essential part of their marketing mix. This is understandable in a world where yellow pages have become a thing of the past, and instead, potential clients are turning to search engines when looking for advice and answers.
Content marketing can be defined as a continuous process of creating targeted content in order to spread knowledge, build thought leadership and influence the decision maker. Portraying yourself as a thought leader is especially important for professional services companies whose products are essentially information, knowledge, and trust.
However, this might be the exact reason why in these industries an enthusiastic content marketer often faces resistance from the upper management followed by the words: “Why are we giving out free advice to these people – these are not even our clients”. The cold fact is that with an attitude like this, it is probable that these people won’t become clients any time soon.
The dilemma of free advice – How much can I reveal?
Where to draw the line? How much free information can a professional services firm give out before it starts to negatively affect the bottom line? A good rule of thumb is to expose just enough that it makes you feel slightly uncomfortable. You need to have the gut feeling that you’ve just revealed a little bit too much. Sometimes this approach leads to situations where a website visitor finds enough information from your site and doesn’t materialize as a new service inquiry.
But did you really lose a customer? Probably not. This visitor most likely didn’t belong to your target audience in the first place. Instead of losing a customer you actually gained positive signals to search engines (for example increased visitor count and lowered bounce rate), visibility for new keywords and most importantly, you managed to show the kind of thought leadership that will eventually separate you from your competitors.
Who knows, maybe one day this visitor has developed his business into a stage where it is profitable for him to outsource some of the non-core functions? At that stage, it is convenient that he already knows your company and has possibly even subscribed to your mailing list. All this thanks to frightening free advice.
Five tips for content creation for professional services firms
- Turn your most frequently asked questions into articles
When the topic is hot for your current clients it’s probably hot for other people as well. Answer these questions in an article or a blog post to attract a larger audience. You’re also well prepared for any inquiries facilitating through these posts thanks to your previous reference experience helping the service delivery process and increasing margins.
- Keep your clients updated with latest changes in your industry
Your current clients and leads will surely appreciate your efforts to keep them updated on changes affecting their businesses. For example, a law firm could post intelligible explanations of the latest regulatory changes. This is a great way to keep your audience updated while simultaneously building an image of an easily approachable practice.
- Re-use presentations
You can easily turn public presentations to shareable marketing pieces on SlideShare, webinars, and articles. Repackaging content is a great way to inform your audience and reduce marketing costs.
- Get more conversions with case studies
A well-presented illustration of a problem, solution, and a positive outcome is a winning recipe to convert even the most suspicious visitors.
- Or just ask the audience
Remove all your front page jargon and use “Ask a free question” form instead. From these questions, you can filter most potential leads to further discussion and the rest of the questions can be turned into a series of articles.
The goal of content marketing is to educate and build trust so that the decision maker feels comfortable while moving through your sales funnel. The more you reveal your expertise by giving out free advice, displaying case studies and various tutorials, the better chance you have at converting your visitors.
An additional plus is that both sales and service delivery process gets easier as your clients and leads are already well educated on the subject matter. Giving free advice does not mean giving money away; on the contrary, it is probably the easiest way to increase ROI for professional services firms.
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