It’s time to talk effective content marketing — the kind that attracts the right customers, and helps you make sales!
It’s Monday, which means I’m opening up my mailbox to answer YOUR questions. All you have to do to have your question answered in an upcoming Mailbox Monday issue is send it to me at [email protected]
Marketing, copywriting, business, entrepreneurship, life, whatever! It’s all fair game to get answered here, as long as I believe answering your question will be helpful for other readers.
Now, onto today’s topic…
What do you suggest for a content marketing, especially when it comes to Advanced Professional Practices.
For example, Attorneys, Accountants, Doctors, Dentists, Chiropractors, Psychologists, etc…
Thank you for sharing,
I love this question, because I think most people get content marketing WRONG — and make it worth nothing as a result!
First and foremost, let’s think about WHY we’re doing content marketing. Then, we’ll get to HOW.
So, what’s the purpose of content marketing? What’s the reason why?
Well, if you were to go out and ask 100 content marketers, I bet 99 of them would say something along the lines of, “To build your brand and establish yourself as a thought leader.”
And while none of that is inherently bad, it doesn’t make a very good WHY.
Why doesn’t it? Because building a brand and establishing yourself as a thought leader leads to absolutely ZERO business results.
These things are great byproducts of content marketing that meets other more worthwhile goals. But they are not the goals in and of themselves.
Let’s go all the way back to the basics, and remember the most fundamental definition…
Marketing is SELLING MULTIPLIED through media!
That means marketing must be judged through the metrics of sales — customers acquired, sales generated. And, the job of marketing — including content marketing — is very much the same as the job of any flesh-and-blood salesperson.
What are some of the things a good salesperson does?
— They attract the attention of qualified prospects.
— They get prospects interested in your company and offerings, and get them to raise their hand to become a lead.
— They educate leads about the solution you provide, and its features and benefits.
— They answer critical questions.
— They overcome objections to the sale.
— They clarify the offer.
— They ask for the sale.
And which of these do you think content marketing can do? If you answered, “All of them,” you’re right!
Although content marketing is best-suited to cover the bases all the way up to that point where you’re actually asking for the sale — especially when it comes to marketing a professional practice, the next-best thing a piece of content marketing can do is entice them to pick up the phone and give you or your sales team a call.
Let’s recap the reasons why for content marketing, before we get into the practical tactical technique — and you’re going to love how easy this is!
So, a good piece of content marketing should accomplish one or more of these goals…
— It should attract the attention of qualified prospects.
— It should get prospects interested in your company and offerings, and get them to raise their hand to become a lead.
— It should educate the prospect about the solution you provide, and its features and benefits.
— It should answer critical questions.
— It should overcome objections to the sale.
— And it should clarify your offer.
And a good content marketing STRATEGY will naturally encompass all these areas in a way that consistently brings fresh content to the forefront, making it available to the search engines, new prospective clients, and previous clients alike…
Here’s the easiest way to create content for your small business!
If you have a small business that’s already going — meaning that you have customers and clients, prospects and leads — you are no-doubt getting consistent questions about your business.
They may be questions from absolute newbies, who want to know why they should avail themselves of your services.
They may be clear on their problem, but maybe not have a clear view of the solutions available to them — or why they should prefer yours.
They may be somewhat interested in your services, but want to know what the initial customer experience is like.
They may want to know more details about what all the features and benefits of your offer are — or want to go deep about one.
They may be questions that subtly or not-so-subtly raise a common objection to the sale.
They may be questions about your offer, terms, availability, or similar “buying” questions.
These questions are coming in via phone calls. They’re coming in your email inbox. They’re coming via the contact form on your website. They’re coming when you meet new prospective clients.
And they happen to make PERFECT topics for your content marketing!
All you have to do — when you get these questions — is to capture them, and your answers, in writing!
(See the format of this and every other Mailbox Monday issue for a very LONG example of doing this — yours could be as short as a few sentences or a couple hundred words.)
Here’s how to make this super-easy…
Let’s say, for the sake of illustration, that you get a fair number of leads and prospects emailing you questions before starting with your services.
Every time you answer one of these emails, CC it to whoever is in charge of content marketing for your firm. (Or, if it’s you, create a folder or tag in your inbox, and have a specific time set up every week or month to edit and publish these.)
The email response you sent is the rough draft for a blog post (or piece of content to be used in email or other channels). An edited version of the question or main idea is your subject line. This is important for the question to come up in targeted web searches around the question or topic.
Then, the body of the blog post is your short answer to the question. It really doesn’t have to be anywhere near this long — an ideal length is probably 300-500 words, but if you occasionally go longer that’s good, too.
Edit out anything that personally identifies the prospect, lead, or customer. Make sure the response to the question is readable, and addresses the question clearly and sufficiently. Have someone else look it over to make sure there’s no big grammatical or spelling flubs.
Then, hit publish, and move to the next.
The keys to good content marketing are topic, consistency, and volume…
You need to be on-topic, for the right kind of reader to find it in the search engines, and be naturally attracted to it and want to read it. This should also make it relevant to your current prospects and customers. By answering the questions your leads and customers have, this makes you consistently on-topic in your area of expertise.
Consistency is about a couple things. First, you need to create content regularly, over a long period of time. Because its value adds up and compounds. 10 blog posts won’t create success. One weekly for a year? Much better. One daily for 5 years? Nobody will ever catch up if you keep going. Plus, recency is critical, both for readers and for search engines. Readers like to see recent content on a site. They like to see fresh content if they come back. And search engines like this, too. They see fresh content as a sign a site is well-maintained, and that makes them more likely to send visitors your way.
Volume also speaks to what comes from consistency, and may be a bit redundant, but it’s important enough to keep it. More is better when it comes to content marketing. More pages and posts on your site. More questions answered. More information for a hot prospect to dig into, to reassure themselves of the decision to move forward.
Also, it helps to have the right mechanisms to make content marketing pay off…
It’s one thing to have someone read a piece of content on your site, feel good about it, and then go away to never return again.
The best content marketing gives readers a natural “next step” when it comes to engaging with your business further.
Is there an email series you can offer to send, if they opt in? Should they call for a very specific and relevant consultation? Do they need to schedule an appointment for getting started? Is there a product or a productized version of your service that is a good first step, that they can buy directly from your website?
Make this clear on every page of your site. Build it into the design, into the sidebar, or into the area right after the content.
Every page should have a call to action that is a natural next step if they want to engage with you further.
Also, because most professional practices are very geographically-contained, you should also optimize your site so that the search engines will recognize the city in which you operate, and send a disproportionate amount of traffic from that city to you.
If you’re an Estate Planning Attorney in Lincoln, NE, it doesn’t matter if someone in London finds you by searching for “what items do I need in my will?” But you sure as heck want every Lincoln resident who types that into Google to see your answer as the first search result!
The SEO to pull this off is beyond the scope of this article, but it’s not that difficult when done in conjunction with really good, user-friendly content.
Finally, make the most of your content!
If you do have an email list (and you probably should), you can feature a regular Q&A column. I don’t even care if you steal the Mailbox Monday name! (I don’t think I stole it, but I’m sure I wasn’t original!)
Figure out if you should be posting this content elsewhere, such as on social media sites, or sites relevant to your profession or local area. Maybe even turn them into YouTube videos, or snippet-style podcast episodes.
Once you have content, there’s a lot you can do with it. It can be re-purposed seven ways ‘til Sunday, to make sure it reaches everyone who it can have a positive impact on.
The key is to pick a strategy, and stick to it.
Paid advertising can give you results overnight, but content marketing is more of a long game. If you want to be successful at it, the best thing you can do is develop a strategy that includes identifying the right topics (using the Q&A method), staying consistent for the long-haul, and dedicating yourself to producing significant volume.
One more thing…
If you want a quick way to jump-start your content marketing, you don’t have to wait for new questions to come into your inbox.
First, you probably have a whole bunch of old emails that include great questions and answers you can use following the template above.
And second, whenever a new lead comes in you can employ the critical question, “What’s the single-most important question you have regarding [TOPIC].” That’s a great way to bond with prospects and get them talking to you, AND you can immediately turn those questions around and make them into great content marketing pieces.
Now I’m getting all sorts of ideas…
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,