What is the number one question advice-based professional services firms need to ask before embarking on a content marketing program?
It’s breathtakingly basic but unfortunately when it comes to social media and content marketing, staggeringly few businesses actually take the time to ask it, preferring to burst forth with enthusiasm and start ‘doing stuff’.
Now, while I think (know) social media and content marketing works best when approached with a high degree of passion by those involved, I also know that having a purpose for doing what you’re doing – approaching your firm’s content marketing efforts with strategic intent – will give you the best chance of success in the long run.
So going back to the question in the opening paragraph: What is the number one question your professional services firm needs to ask before embarking on a content marketing program?
The answer revolves around the word WHY – Why should we be doing content marketing?
Of course, going down this path also sparks off other questions and will make you think about a range of issues. Asking “why” helps get us thinking strategically rather than merely defaulting to the tools and platforms (e.g. tactics) – going tactical first up is when you get businesses jumping on to Facebook “because everyone else is doing it”. Sorry, but that’s not a good enough reason.
So set out your objectives and goals. What are you trying to achieve?
- Grow your professional profile and influence in the marketplace.
- Establish yourself and/or your firm as an authority in ‘X’ (whatever ‘X’ may be).
- Educate your clients and help them become smarter.
- Build awareness of your business culture and philosophy.
- Differentiate your brand from that of your competitors’ by demonstrating your expertise and unique perspective on trends and industry issues.
And of course increasing leads and sales for your business is also a critical objective, but often it will be the by-product of achieving one or more of the objectives above.
As you can see, objectives are more purpose driven and often can often be difficult to measure; goals on the other hand should be more specific and measurable. Here are some examples of the types of goals you might attach to a content marketing program – as you can see, they’re a lot more tangible than our sample objectives:
- Double your firm’s opt-in subscriber email list by year’s end.
- Increase qualified new business leads by 25 per cent.
- Boost annual sales by 15 per cent.
- Triple the number of partnership opportunities you’re getting currently.
- Double the amount of media requests you’re getting (or you could get really specific i.e. to land a profile article in ‘X’ publication).
So my advice is to kick off with the the most basic of questions and answer exactly why your firm is embarking on a content marketing program in the first place.
Then take some time to better understand your mission – what will the core purpose of your content be? What will you want your content to achieve? What sort of impact do you want to make over and above simply filling your new business pipeline with ‘warm leads’?
This is just the starting point, of course, but by taking a deep breath now and really understanding why you’re about to embark on the path of social media and content marketing will save you plenty of angst later on. And if you have a number of partners in your firm, then getting everyone on the same page from the outset isn’t a bad idea!