8 Agenda Items for Niche Practice Leaders for your Discussion about Content Marketing with the Marketing Department
This past week, we’ve been going through the process of renewing our HubSpot certifications, and I gotta tell ya, it’s been a labor of love.
We’re really not big fans of test taking, but the upside is that we never fail to get an “aha!” moment because the training we need to do always shows us something new to bring out to our clients to help them get more visibility, leads and new business. We’ve gone through (what seems like) hours and hours of workshops and videos and practicums and note taking. Then, we take a peek into websites like yours to see how you’re benchmarking against today’s best digital marketing and content marketing practices.
(Spoiler alert: as a whole, CPA, consulting and other professional service firms .... you’re not doing so good.)
If you’re the leader of a niche practice, you may want to devote a bit more time to understanding the driving forces behind digital marketing, and then tasking your marketing team to execute a content marketing strategy that fills your pipeline with leads.
Today’s best digital niche marketing practices for CPA and other professional service firms seem to boil down to one very basic and fundamental need: if you don’t have a strategic content marketing program, and the skills, resources and technology to create and deliver it, your online marketing program is a dinosaur.
How Do Niche Practices Create Great Content?There are a lot of moving pieces to developing a content marketing program for a niche, but today, I’d like to concentrate on best practices for developing a single piece of content.
As a niche practice leader, you want to develop and publish great, compelling, interesting content that will showcase your practice's thought leadership and generate leads. As a benchmark, on an annual basis, we’ll typically develop 40 to 80 pieces of content for the niche practices we work with but don’t freak out! These can be as simple as 140 character tweets to 8,000 word eBooks and everything in between!
When you sit down with your marketing team to develop a piece of content, there’s 8 items that should be on the discussion agenda. (Note – the Content Concept Worksheet is a free downloadable version of these points that will bring you down the path to publishing and promoting a brilliant piece of content).
Here’s what you need to ask and resolve:
1. What pain or issue are we addressing with the content?
Your content should not be about you – it should be about helping your prospects solve their needs.
2. Who is the persona for our content?
The way that you write, publish and promote your content is going to be different depending upon who you’re trying to reach. For example, business valuation content you address to a lawyer should be different than the business valuation content you address to a business owner looking to exit their business
3. What stage in the buyer’s journey do we want to address with our content?
You will have different types of content depending upon whether the prospect is at the awareness, consideration or decision stage. At awareness, your content mix might be 95% non-advertorial and 5 % advertorial, but content at the decision stage might be 5% non-advertorial and 95% advertorial
4. Free or gated?
You’ll want to ask your team’s advice on whether to make the content available with or without the need to fill out a form. Caution here – you want a mix of the two.
5. What type of format are we going to use for our content?
Lots of choices here, ranging from eBooks to seminars and a lot more. The best choice is going to be the one that you think will resonate the most with the persona you’re trying to reach.
6. What type of structure should we use for our content?
Here, structure refers to how the content will be delivered, for example, in an opinion piece, or a FAQ or a list, and more.
7. What’s the title going to be?
Titling is a combination of art and science. Too dry and it will turn readers off. Too casual and you may not be taken seriously enough. I remember back a few years ago when one marketing consultant used curse words in her blog titles as a means of getting attention. She got called to task for it in a lot of LinkedIn groups and she’s no longer using this approach. No sh**!!
8. How are we going to promote our brilliant content?
If you don’t get eyeballs on your content, then you’ve wasted a lot of time, effort and resources. Ask your marketers what their plans are to promote your content to the right audience at the right time. Lots of choices here, from onsite promotions using call to action buttons and landing pages to pay per click.
Back to the “Books”
One takeaway from our recertification process that I’d like to share with you is how rapidly marketing is changing. On a level that is quite a few notches higher on the stick o’sophisitication, B2C and B2B firms are using big data to find insights about their customers that’s being used to continually refine marketing programs. Somehow, I think that using big data for CPA firm marketing purposes is a long, long, long way off. Actually, I think that I’m two longs too short .. make that a long, long, long, long, long way off.
Here’s another observation: great firms have always produced and published great content. Big 4 firms have always been masters of long form content that are shining examples of brilliant mixes of writing and production. Selected smaller firms have also been content mavens, stretching back a decade or more.
So what’s different?
In a nutshell: the purpose of content has gone way beyond just branding. Today, it’s not only a key part of getting high search engine rankings, its’ a key part of lead generation and nurturing.
And now it’s back to the books (or more appropriately, back to the screen). We’re really taking a deep dive on how HubSpot technology is bridging the gap between marketing and sales efforts, and when it comes to CPA firms, we’re a lot closer to seeing that happen, especially among the more digitally literate firms.
It’s really only a just a long way off.