Welcome to part two of our series on the benefits and challenges of content marketing for consulting firms.
In Part 1, we discussed the benefits consulting and professional services providers can enjoy from content marketing for consulting firms.
In Part 2 we’ll discuss some of the challenges faced when implementing a content marketing framework for your consulting firm. We’ll also cover some best practices to help overcome these challenges.
What Content Marketing Is NOT
Let’s be honest: There’s a lot of chatter surrounding the topic of content marketing. Many gurus talk about content marketing as a silver bullet or “magic pill” for every growth marketing problem in business. It won’t suddenly bring in a flood of clients in a short time with minimal investment.
What Content Marketing IS
Content marketing is a powerful addition to your consulting firm’s growth toolbox. BUT ONLY IF it conveys useful authority-based information AND you promote your content.
Writing several “pillar” content pieces and spending money to promote them can help your consulting firm stand out in the marketplace for years.
You will win the attention of potential readers and turn them into engaged business leads.
It will build brand loyalty within your client base and brand awareness within your industry.
(Side note: content marketing is essential after the sale to help spur repeat engagements and build long-term client relationships).
Content Marketing Challenges
But there are some daunting challenges with content marketing for consulting firms that must be overcome. If you don’t have a plan to deal with these, your content investment won’t generate the yield you expect. You won’t get the benefits in terms of targeted web traffic, new client acquisition, brand recognition and ROI that your firm needs.
Content Is Everywhere!
The biggest challenge of all? The world is overflowing with content.
Business professionals, including your prospects, are bombarded with a veritable tsunami of content from a multitude of sources.
“Content shock” is a real problem for a lot of marketers. This dilutes the effect of your content marketing efforts, and reduces the ROI of your investment.
Even without this content overload, your audience is busy. It’s safe to conclude they are not plagued with “too little to do” or “not enough to read”.
Somehow, some way, your content MUST grab attention. Ideal prospects have to notice it before they can read it. And they must read it to follow the path further down your content marketing funnel.
Otherwise…Meh. Just another piece of drivel.
Best Practices for Incredible Attention-Grabbing Content
To get your content noticed and read, you need to give it a compelling, eye-catching title. It doesn’t help to have the most engaging, problem-solving, educational piece of content imaginable if it never gets read.
When it comes to writing titles that resonate with readers, we take cues from the world’s greatest copywriters.
Fundamental Copywriting Rule #1
Make your content primarily about the reader, not about your product or your company.
“Nobody cares about your products (Except You)” – David Meerman Scott
Once you have the reader’s attention, impress and keep his attention. Speak with great empathy about his problem and how your service can help him solve that problem. Readers are engaged when you focus your content’s message on them, not on your consulting service features.
A World Class Title = Benefits + Curiosity
Your titles must contain a potent combination of BENEFITS + CURIOSITY.
A good title is one that that leaves your reader itching with curiosity and anticipation — sometimes subliminally.
- How to get _____ (desired result)
- Don’t do ______ if you want _______
- ________? (ask a question)
- The one thing you must know before ______ (secret you’re missing)
Readers are easily bored and distracted. Hit ’em with something that grabs and won’t let go.
Then don’t drop the ball…
Hit Them Quickly
Grab their attention with your title, then immediately keep it with your first sentence. Your first sentence must succeed in persuading the reader to want to keep reading.
Again, emulate the great copywriters here.
Copywriting is salesmanship in print.
It’s easy to get caught up in a nebulous morass of word counts and content schedules, and forget that content needs to drive the marketing process forward. Although you don’t want your authority content to come across as pushy or “salesy”, you do need to leverage powerful words to ramp up the persuasiveness of your content.
“Reads Like a Buttered Baby”
It’s also important to make your content easy to read.
Write at a fairly basic academic level. You are writing a content marketing asset, not a PhD dissertation. You won’t gain bonus points or more leads by using puffed up, complicated language. Readers stay interested when you keep your content easy to read and relevant.
Use simple, straightforward language.
Separate your sentences with plenty of white space.
Keep your sentences and paragraphs short.
Drop in keywords or acronyms that your intended client will understand and relate to.
Put yourself in your reader’s shoes for a moment (actually, you may only have a moment so make it a good one!)
Getting and keeping your reader’s attention can be a challenge. Your message must immediately resonate and start building trust.
Research has shown that writing conversationally, like a face-to-face conversation with an old friend, is the most effective way to write copy for online consumption.
Are You Marketing Your Content?
Sadly, a lot of well-written content gets completely ignored.
It’s not enough to just write your content and post it to your website. Take the advice of content marketing consultant Jay Baer and “market your marketing”.
Content marketing for consulting firms means you MUST market your content. You need to “get it out there” where your intended audience can see it. You need to use social media, email, PPC campaigns, your email list — whatever tools you have available to get your content under the noses of potential consulting clients. The “publish and wait” approach simply takes too long. You need to drive your best content into the market.
NOTE: At FunnelProfit we employ a content marketing strategy we call “Outbound Inbound” to drive high-quality content directly under the nose of your ideal clients. This leads to very high readership, engagement and inbound inquiries from the decision-makers you’re targeting.
Something Else To Consider
Copywriting (aka “selling in print”) is a specialized skill. In specialized business-to-business markets this is even more the case.
If you don’t have deep copywriting skills (not just an English Lit or PR degree — real-world corporate direct response copywriting experience) AND the ability to pump out incredibly high-quality material consistently, then you should consider investing in the services of a professional copywriter.
Done right, content marketing for consulting firms can help build a pipeline of interested potential clients who are well-indoctrinated and believe your firm can help.