Professional services cover law, architectural, accounting, investment firms, and more. Use your own experts Jonathan advises marketers to develop tactics that focus on their people and processes – richly detailed case studies, in-depth testimonials, frank colleague-to-colleague articles, videos, podcasts, and blog posts from in-house experts. For example, publish content around topics of urgent client interest based on in-house expert interviews. “It’s because we have something original to say that the reader can’t get anywhere else,” says Christina Galoozis, content marketing manager. “Good content marketing from professional service firms is no different from a product company or agency in that it’s all about creating valuable, helpful content for your customer, including answers to your customer and potential customers’ questions,” Andrew says. Think before creating content The Greentarget and Zeughauser Group law marketing survey also reveals that only 26% of firms have a documented content strategy. Address multiple audiences Like many B2B companies, the professional service industry has a complex audience. Like many professional service firms, Henry+Horne serves many segments and industries. To sell services, not products, requires content that mirrors the way the professional service firm works with its clients. Other posts by Ann Gynn
Information overload. Multiple decision-makers. Service of diverse industries. Ubiquity of thought leaders and experts. Industry or governmental regulations.
Those are just some of the pervasive challenges encountered by professional services marketers. Though you may be daunted, you still must clear these hurdles to reach your audience with content that will help them and set your firm up for success. Let’s get started.
Professional services cover law, architectural, accounting, investment firms, and more. Unlike a product-focused company, these businesses offer knowledge-based services.
Jonathan Kranz, author of Writing Copy for Dummies and a trainer on content marketing, offers this perspective: “As Harry Beckwith astutely observed, professional services companies have to ‘sell the invisible’ – intangible qualities of experience and expertise that resist easy ‘features and functions’ descriptions.”
Professional service firms aren’t selling a “box,” but a relationship – and that requires close communication and engagement, Jonathan observes.
In addition, professional services firms compete within crowds of competitors who offer comparable services.
“Expertise is a given, which is why ‘secret-sauce’ formulas, intended to create competitive distinction, rarely hold interest: Clients just don’t care,” Jonathan says. “They are less interested in the ‘what’ of your expertise than in the ‘how’ of your mutual relationship: What is it like to work with you? Will you be remote, imperious, and condescending? Or attentive, respectful, and deeply concerned with the pragmatic realities of their business?”
And clients are inundated with content around business, industry, and legal topics – a problem cited by 96% of law firms’ corporate clients in the 2017 State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey by Greentarget and Zeughauser Group. (Interestingly, less than half of marketers (47%) say information overload is a big problem for their audiences. Might be time to do a gut check yourself.)
Use your own experts
Jonathan advises marketers to develop tactics that focus on their people and processes – richly detailed case studies, in-depth testimonials, frank colleague-to-colleague articles, videos, podcasts, and blog posts from in-house experts.
For example, publish content around topics of urgent client interest based on in-house expert interviews. As Jonathan explains, “These interviews not only surface genuine insights, but they also represent participating experts as collegial, client-centered professionals who would be easy to work with – exactly the right takeaway every service provider wants to leave with a potential customer.”
TIP: Audiences appreciate urgent or alert-type content. In the 2017 law marketing survey, the highest-ranking tactic was client alerts, with 87% of respondents reporting them as valuable.
Say something original and valuable
West Monroe Partners, a business consulting firm, finds that survey or research-based content rates the highest with readership and gets the most ROI. “It’s because we have something original to say that the reader can’t get anywhere else,” says Christina Galoozis, content marketing manager. “We are investing in more proprietary surveys this year than ever before.
West Monroe also evaluates how its content stands up in the marketplace. It contracts with a third party to conduct an annual content audit, comparing the firm’s content against its competitors as well as best practices for consulting firms specifically.
Christina says the analysis is instrumental in shaping content priorities and strategies. Among the content changes implemented as a result:
- Inclusion of author’s expertise up front to establish credibility
- Cleaner design for white papers
- Content that delivers on the title (and vice versa)
This year, West Monroe Partners is highlighting the value for the reader – explaining up front what the reader will learn or be able to do as a result of engaging in the content. “This is paramount for professional service readers who are busy and have a lot of priorities,” Galoozis says. “We must explain the value before they even start reading.”
Get an attitude
Emily Lund, content strategist at Modmacro, a web design and marketing firm, offers an example from one of its clients, a California architectural firm, M. Grisafe Architect.