For a consulting firm to gain credibility with a prospect, it needs to convey competency in its specialty. Creating a solid digital content marketing strategy is an optimal way for consulting firms to convey their competency, build trust and gain credibility with prospects. However, this can be challenging for many consultancies.
Why? Because a common mantra for consultants is, “Of course we can do that,” in an effort to help all potential clients solve problems and overcome challenges. While this is a great way to expand business and maintain existing clients, it contradicts a well-executed marketing strategy.
Years ago, I ran a Healthcare IT consulting firm called WaveTwo. WaveTwo was a strong company and our clients were happy with our services. We never missed a chance to take on a new challenge.
Unfortunately, our website reflected this. We offered so many services that our message became diluted. Once we identified who our ideal customer was and focused our message, things fell into place.
So, how does a consultancy align marketing with the, “Of course we can do that,” attitude?
First, Define Your Ideal Project:
I mean it. If you could only do one type of project over and over again, what would it be? Ideally, you and your team have the competency to execute it easily and it has a high margin.
Determine Who Your Ideal Customer Is:
We call this an “avatar.” Who are the “avatars” for your service? Ask yourself:
- Why would they need our services?
- What is their role in the company?
- How do they do research?
- Are they technical? Functional? Business leaders?
You must speak to your avatars in their language and also provide them with something they find useful. For example, if your ideal prospects are business leaders, speak in business terms, avoid technical jargon and help them come to the conclusion that your services will benefit them.
Consider a Website Refresh that Incorporates Persuasive Content:
You should carefully review your website and identify which content no longer is relevant to your new focus. We call it a website remodel. The content of the site should be a combination of articles, videos and blog posts that are useful to your avatar and send a clear message about your specialty.
The Homepage, About Us and Contact Us pages should be written with copywriting principles. In other words, designed to persuade the reader to opt in or take some kind of action. In exchange for their email address, give them something they will find value in such as a free e-book, white paper or infographic.
Why give away something free in exchange for an email address?
On average, 80 percent of your site visitors won’t return. Obtaining their email address is your chance to continue the conversation and engage with your prospects by providing something of value. This is not a license to spam or hard sell. You need to earn the right to extend an offer to a prospect by proving that you can provide something of value.
Create Useful Content:
Once you have your site makeover complete, it’s time to produce content valuable to your prospects. Create informative, interesting articles, videos and blog posts regularly. Follow industry trends and news, and write about them.
For a services company, one way to get started is to write case studies. These are narratives that tell the story of how your client had a problem, how you worked together to find a resolution and how specifically your company executed the solution and “saved the day.” If you can include a video snippet or a text testimonial from happy clients, that’s even better.
Your prospects have agreed to receive content from you, so be sure to avoid over-promoting yourself — always ask yourself, “Will my prospect find this content useful or beneficial in some way?” and if the answer is no, or you’re not sure, revise it. Occasionally mix up your content messages with free advice topics such as “Top 5 Ways to Improve XYZ,” “Problem X? Here’s a Solution.”
Periodically, email a digest of your best posts to those who opted in (subscribed) to your content messages. You are now building a foundation of content, establishing credibility and earning trust.
Segment Your Subscribers by Interest:
The next step is to identify the subjects in which your prospect is most interested.
- Create a series of three to five emails on different topics related to your business.
- Send them to your subscribers at predefined intervals, e.g., one message per week. Each email should contain a summary of one of your articles with a link to continue reading.
Again, Avoid Over-promotion:
These messages should not try to sell, but should aim to provide information your subscribers find beneficial, that helps them in their personal or professional life in some way.
The emails should always include some kind of call-to-action (CTA), even if it’s just a link to the remainder of the article.
For segmentation purposes, it is critical that you do not include the entire article in the email — you want readers to click to continue reading the article on your site so you can identify which topic(s) interested them. You can then “tag” them and now you know which subscribers are interested in topic B, but aren’t interested in topics A or C.
Going forward, you can create and send content that primarily focuses on topic B for these prospects, increasing the chances they will continue to read your messages. Obviously, if someone else clicked into topics A and B, you’d send that subscriber A- and B-related content and so on.
You can use any multitude of customer relationship management (CRM) software such as Infusionsoft to automate most of these processes.
The Right to Extend an Offer:
After you have sent a prospect three to five informative, content emails, you have earned the right to extend an offer. Send the prospect a soft sell email, with a clear Call To Action (CTA) based on an offer consistent with the prospect’s interests.
For example, if you are a consulting firm that creates proposals, the offer could be a free 30-minute consultation call. The CTA could be to have them call you to schedule it or ask them to complete a very short form with their request.
The act of calling or completing the form places this prospect into the sales funnel. We will discuss sales funnels in a future article so stay tuned!
If you need help and aren’t sure how to get started, visit us at ContentFirst.Marketing — we can design and implement a digital content marketing plan customized for your organization!