If you pay any attention to the latest marketing trends, you are aware that content marketing has been on the rise as one of the top strategies to drive business growth. According to the 2014 B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America report, 93 percent of marketers report using content marketing, but only 42 percent consider themselves effective. In this article, I explain what “content marketing” is, why your firm should consider using it, and how to effectively use this tool to generate new revenue.
What is Content Marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” The days are over of plastering your logo and brand anywhere and everywhere with the hope that potential clients or customers will know to call you when they need the service you provide. Consumers have more options than ever before, especially in the field of legal services.
To differentiate yourself, you must provide valuable content that shows why you or your firm is the expert in a certain area and how you can solve a problem the consumer might have. Content marketing can come in many forms, from white papers and research to videos and podcasts.
Why You Should Consider Content Marketing
With the emergence of DVRs and the Internet, and print publications at a volume too numerous to count, consumers can easily fast forward or page through those ads that are merely snapshots of companies showing a logo and a message about what services the companies provide. To catch a prospect’s attention in a world of seemingly limitless information, you must create something people are interested in dedicating time to.
com weberj sva Jenna Weber is a business development professional for SVA Certified Public Accountants S.C., Madison, where she creates and implements business development strategies and awareness campaigns that drive business growth.
Your competition is no longer just other law firms. It includes every individual and organization that is putting out a message for mass consumption. The purpose of content marketing is to deliver valuable, interesting, and consistent information to your target audience so that you stay top of mind as a niche expert and, most important, keep your firm relevant. The advantages of content marketing will vary depending on your specific strategy, but some of the top benefits include brand awareness, lead generation, customer acquisition and engagement, and thought leadership. If any of these benefits would be a good result for your firm, content marketing could be for you.
Although this marketing avenue might not have a large direct effect on your business-development budget, it does take time, effort, and consistency. Here are seven tips to help ensure your content marketing strategy is effective.
Start with a Strategy
When it comes to content marketing, there are many different ways you can generate your information and many channels through which you can distribute the content. Your choice of methods depends on determining your strategy. Who specifically are you trying to reach? Which methods will you use to distribute your content: firm website, social media, blog, webinars, or seminars? How much time per week or per month are you willing to dedicate to creating new content? What are your SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) goals when it comes to content marketing? How will you know your strategy is working: number of new clients, amount of new revenue, or number of leads?
Seven Ways to Strengthen Content Marketing
- Start with a strategy.
- Know your audience.
- Set a schedule.
- Be interesting.
- Repurpose your content.
- Gather information.
- Track your progress.
Know Your Audience
Before you create any content, make sure you have a specific idea of who your target audience is. This will have a big impact not only on what kind of information you produce but also on how it is presented and where it is distributed. It is okay to have more than one “prospect profile” to create content for, but make sure to create specific content for each different niche geared toward the challenges each prospect faces and what each would find useful. The more specific you can be with your ideal-prospect profile (whoever you want to consume the content), the more likely you are to be successful in engaging those prospects and potentially converting them to clients. Keep in mind that you can consider audiences other than prospects, such as centers of influence or industry leaders. If you can get these influencers to read, and better yet, share your content, you will gain credibility as an industry expert.
Set a Schedule
One of the most crucial elements of success is consistency. Unfortunately, one of the biggest hurdles for a content marketing campaign is lack of time to produce new content. If you decide this strategy is a good fit for your firm, make sure to have a schedule of when new content should be created. One way to help lessen each participant’s time commitment is to have a rotating schedule of partners or staff who can take turns creating new content. Presenting fresh and timely information will ensure repeat visitors and loyal readers. The more information a prospect uses from your firm, the more likely he or she is to become a client or refer a client.
Not only should your content be valuable, it also should be interesting. Would you show a boring, generic advertisement to a colleague or friend? Probably not. One of the goals of content marketing is to create information and resources that people will be likely to share with other people who might be interested in a certain area. For example, if a new law is passed that will have a large effect on a certain industry, try to share the information in a way that brings life to the subject by describing how it might affect businesses instead of merely restating the law’s provisions. Think of ways to make the content so interesting that if one person from that industry comes across the information, he or she will want to share it with others in that field. Create unique spins on information that will spark conversations within your target audience.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Once you have spent time creating interesting and valuable content, you should use the content in as many ways and forms as possible. For example, if you write a three-page white paper that prospects can download from your website, you can use specific facts or important points as posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. You could break down the white paper into several smaller blog posts that can be distributed over a longer period of time. You could create a webinar that presents the information in a live format that allows time for interactions and questions. Create short video segments to post to YouTube or on your firm’s website. Be creative: find ways to repurpose your content to reach new audiences.
One way to more proactively work to convert prospects to clients is to gather information from those who consume your content marketing and then add a personal touch. For example, if you create an e-book on “Ten Estate Planning Mistakes That Could Cost You Millions,” require prospects to enter their name, email address, and possibly phone number before they can download the content. You can begin to create a list of interested prospects and send them other relevant information. Better yet, you can send a personal email or make a phone call to ensure they received the resource and answer any questions they may have. This is a great way to showcase your expertise and open the door for a potential prospect to become a client.
Track Your Progress
One of the biggest problems marketing departments often face is measuring results of campaigns. Although tracking a new client back to a specific piece of content or even an initiative can be challenging, there are certain metrics that will indicate whether you are making progress toward your content marketing goals. Some areas to study to determine if a content marketing campaign is benefiting your firm include Web traffic, prospect/lead quantity and quality, number of “shares” on social media platforms, search engine optimization ranking (where you show up in a Google search), and feedback from current clients and prospects.