5 Strategies That Will Get Your Professionals Committed to Publishing Their Lofty Thoughts
If you’re a marketer in a CPA, consulting or other professional services firm you know how important content is for your firm’s online marketing efforts. While you may be hip to the value of a good blog post, or a whitepaper that knocks it out of the box for lead generation, you may be finding that getting your partners and staff on board to keep your content inventory cupboard well stocked is, shall we politely say, a bit of a challenge?
Assuming that Santa is not going to leave a ginormous pile of readymade videos, whitepapers, blog posts and articles under the Christmas tree that’s sitting in your firm’s lobby (or by the menorah for our Jewish friends), it’s up to you to get your people busily pecking away at their keyboards. So here are five different strategies to consider for making your 2014 content marketing wishes come true:
Strategies for Launching and Running a Content Marketing Program
(1) Educate your people on what content marketing is and its value for contributing to the firm’s top line growth
Nobody in the firm is going to write just for the sheer joy of writing … they have to see some kind of benefit or payoff for their investment of their precious unbillable time. You can’t move the needle on any content marketing strategy if your folks don’t know what content marketing is, or its value.
It’s time to teach them a thing or three. Their ability to see value is directly related to their understanding of how content marketing benefits their personal, the corporate brans, its use in lead generation, and as a tool for using thought leadership for competitive advantage and differentiation.
Here’s a little side tip that I’ve found to be very useful in motivating staff to move toward some marketing end: show them what your competition is doing. There’s nothing more dramatic for stimulating change than to harness a partner’s reaction when they see that your firm is getting its butt kicked by a competitor’s marketing strategies or tactics.
(2) Appeal to their altruistic nature
Try appealing to your partner and staff’s altruistic side by emphasizing how important and valuable content marketing can be for the firm. With enough frequency and time, you might see some folks actually step up to the plate and start contributing.
This strategy starts with the enthusiastic support of the firm’s Managing Partner and Management team, and their willingness to lead by example. On the other hand, this strategy is pretty much dead in the water if management’s support is lukewarm or non-existent.
Patience is a key ingredient in content marketing, so management’s support needs to be constant over a long period of time until results in the form of more site traffic or more leads starts to roll in. At the end of the day, nothing will motivate reluctant partners and staff more than to see positive results.
(3) Create an incentive program
Not to put too fine point on it, but bribe ‘em. Call it a spiff, reward, bonus, bounty, dividend or whatever, but if altruism in and by itself isn’t enough to get those content writing juices flowing, than perhaps a little legal tender will do the trick.
I’m not recommending that that you set up a pay per word system or anything close to that, but perhaps a contest with some eye opening prizes might be just the ticket you need. A contest built around writing blogs, for example, could have elements like number of blogs written, number of people reading those posts, number of social shares, numbers of comments made, and numbers of backlinks. With today’s marketing technology, all of these are easily measureable.
But because you’re a professional services marketer, and being oh so clever and tricky, the incentive should not just be built around plopping 500 words down, but around effectiveness and measurable results. Content marketing just isn’t about writing; it’s also about promoting the author’s thought leadership through a number of different channels including social media. In effect, at the same time you’re delivering content, you’re getting the firm more in step with social media trends. Clever, very clever.
That’s just one of the ways that you get value out of a content marketing program!
One last word about using an incentive: don’t be cheap. This isn’t the time for frugality; it’s the time to put something on the table that’s a WOW. Go ahead and give away an IPad (ZZzzzzzz) or do something more dramatic like I did for one incentive contest where the grand prize was a share in a gold mine. Get creative!
(4) Make it mandatory
If appealing to your staff’s better nature or incenting them with fabulous prizes beyond their imagination doesn’t work, and then maybe it’s time to think more along the lines of compliance. Make participation in the firm’s content marketing program mandatory, with real consequences for not participating or missing deadlines.
Now I’m not talking about making someone wear a hair shirt for not writing a blog post or anything like that, but perhaps tying content production into salaries, bonuses or promotions is a strategy you might consider. Truth be told, I’m not aware of any professional service firm that uses this strategy to get content, and it’s likely to be a difficult sell from political and cultural perspectives.
In academic circles, this is known as publish or perish. Just some food for thought...
(5) Forgeddaboutit... Just buy it instead
It just might be that none of these strategies is right for your firm, or maybe you’ve even tried a few of them with no tangible results. But you’re a professional service firm marketer dammit! We don’t give up just because we have trouble getting our partners and staff to do innovative marketing!
After all, wasn’t it you that got the firm to stop spending money on Yellow Pages? Or how about the bold move you made to stop the firm from buying more pens with the firm’s name and logo? It’s time to get bold once again and think about this: if your partners and staff aren’t stepping up to the plate to give you content, put money into your budget and buy it.
There are a number of credible writers and content providers that are industry literate, just as there are content writing services that will write blog posts for a nickel a word. Yep, you read that right … a 500 word blog post for $25.00!
Having interviewed and experimented with a wide range of content providers, I can state with a high degree of certainty that you get what you pay for. To quote Forrest Gump, “… and that’s all I have to say about that”.
While it is possible to engage content providers on a 100% turnkey basis, most firms use some kind of hybrid – a ghost writer if you will – who does partner interviews and other research, prepares the content, and then works through final drafting and publication with the marketing department.
Professional Service Firm Content Marketing in 2014
I predict that in 2014, we’ll see CPA, consulting and other professional services firms really ramp up (or at least try to ramp up) their content marketing efforts. Great content marketing starts with awareness and education, so that just might be the first order of business for you to consider next year.
“Content Marketing means you consistently create and share information that is packed with utility, seeded with inspiration and is honestly empathetic in order to attract customers to you. Empathy is not what you do; it’s what you do for your customers.”