For years, the world of professional services marketing was not exactly known as the most fertile ground for the adoption of cutting edge inbound marketing techniques. “Does anyone actually pay attention to LinkedIn?” “How many clients did that blog post generate?” “What’s the point of content marketing?”
If you’ve asked yourself these questions in the past, you’re not alone. Two out of every three businesses currently spend more than one-quarter of their marketing budget on digital marketing, including content marketing, according to Accenture’s CMO Insights Study. However, the same study found that while many marketing executives understand the importance of content marketing, they are “unprepared” and “unsure” how to best leverage this marketing technique for maximum success.
Professional Services Content Marketing - The New Normal
As recently as a few years ago, professional services firms could still get away with limited inbound marketing. However, thanks to an ever-lengthening sales cycle, increased costs for traditional marketing, and a higher ROI on inbound marketing, content marketing is an imperative for professional services. At the same time, technology is shifting the power away from the traditional media elite, including editors and publishers, and moving this power towards individual voices. Your business can and should be in control of its own PR.
Content marketing is the “new normal”. It’s not enough for your business to be onboard with inbound marketing; it needs a strategic approach to integrating content marketing with existing marketing efforts. This requires a fundamental change in thinking: inbound marketing is not a series of “blast emails” but a true content campaign. Blogs are not places for static content; they can – and should – be PR machines. The content on your blogs should be re-channeled through social networks that are branded to specific target audiences.
Professional Services Content Marketing 101
Content marketing is the process of creating content that customers and clients want or need. At its very core, content marketing is any format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers, and may include everything from thought leadership to branded content.
Content marketing is how you attract buyers and bring them to your company, rather than paying to reach them. Effective content marketing starts with a simple question: “What do our buyers want or need?” Once your professional services business can answer this question, great content marketing will be a mix of content creation, curation and syndication.
Keep in mind that content marketing is not a self-serving tactic to solely promote your own brand. In fact, talking too much about your own products or solutions will ultimately hurt your business.
Customers and clients prefer to connect with professional services companies on a human and emotional scale. “Emotion beats promotion” by a factor of 2 to 1, according to the Corporate Executive Board’s latest report. An effective content marketing strategy will ensure your business creates the right content for the right people at the right time.
Building Your Content Marketing FoundationContent marketing is “one of the top marketing priorities for 2014” (B2B Magazine) and was listed as the top priority by the Altimeter Group. Traditional advertising is expensive and ineffective; content marketing works:
- 75% of CMOs believe that content is the future of marketing. (Demand Metric)
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.
- Content marketing generates six to seven times higher website conversion and qualified lead conversion rates.
- 93% of marketers are using content marketing
Content marketing meets the needs of your buyers across ALL phases of the buying cycle, including early phase, middle and late-stage:
- Early-stage content drives interest and awareness
- Middle-stage content focuses on engagement
- Late-stage content keeps buyers loyal to your brand and upsells them on future solutions
Content marketing is no longer a nice option for professional services business; it's a necessary business technique to generate new business leads and to promote your business as an industry leader. For knowledge-based businesses, content marketing is essentially a "free sample" of your knowledge and expertise. It gives potential buyers a glimpse at the value of choosing you as a partner and demonstrates your knowledge of your field of expertise. So if you're not using content marketing in your professional services business or just want better results, use a coordinated content marketing strategy.