If you were to conduct an online search for “content marketing”, you would find countless definitions of the word. In essence, they all have a similar meaning – providing informative and valuable material that will attract and engage your audience. In reality, content marketing is not new. Rather, the concept has been around for several years in various industries, but it wasn’t until recently that it exploded onto the scene in the professional services industry.
Content marketing evolved from the traditional notion that public relations used to be completely separate from the “meat” of the business, particularly in law firms. On one hand you had the PR department focusing on promoting the attorneys by such means as getting them quoted or placing articles, and on the other hand you had the attorneys who were doing the marketing. These two areas – public relations and marketing – come together to give us the idea of content marketing.
As professionals, we have access to a tremendous amount of content at our fingertips – whether it’s the work we are handling, the conferences we are attending or the topics that our clients are most concerned about. So how can we take that information and use it in a way that positions us as experts, enhances our online presence and generates qualified leads?
We’ve broken content marketing down into a few simple steps:
- Developing Content – Do a simple content audit to identify what type of content you have to work with. As professionals, we are often so close to our work that we need to take two steps back to really capture everything that is flying by. Once you’ve developed a few ideas regarding content, determine how you can extract the educational value in a way that is not too promotional. For example, I attended the Legal Marketing Association annual conference and encapsulated the two-day conference into the “5 trends in legal marketing”. Perhaps if you are an accountant, you might be looking at how businesses can prepare for the September tax deadline.
- Packaging Content – Once you’ve developed your content, think about how you can package it in a way that is unique to you as well as relatable and relevant to your audience. For instance, is there an interesting headline that might capture people’s attention, or a format, such as a tips list, that would entice your audience to read it?
- Identifying Vehicles – When looking at how to distribute your content, you have both your “push” and your “pull”. Your push vehicles are your database or mailing list as you are pushing content out to that audience. The pull can be considered your online platforms, such as social media, your firm’s website, etc. Keep in mind that when you are using social media, you are committing to being active on it. If you are putting content out, you need to be responsible for responding to comments or questions about your content. It’s called “social” for a reason!
- Making It Manageable – This is probably the biggest challenge for professionals as we are all more focused on billable work. As with anything, content marketing should be handled in a way that is manageable for you. Consistency is key, so whether you publish content once a day or once a month, keep to a regular schedule. Consider creating a simple Excel spreadsheet to help track your workflow and plan out future content.
Content marketing should not replace all other marketing but should be done in correlation with other marketing efforts such as speaking, networking and writing. As content marketing continues to be all the buzz in the professional services industry, it’s the perfect time to think about how content marketing can fit into your overall marketing plan. Now, what will you do with all of the content you are sitting on?