Our editorial take on professional services (and wider B2B) content
Let me start with a sad fact about this blog post.
It’s taken me hours to put it together, to think about what I want to say and create interesting visual assets that could sit along it to make you read it past this first paragraph. And I’ve done this knowing full well that the average visitor will only read about 25% of it. But that’s not the point. If you’ve come here from LinkedIn, you’re already more likely to want to work with Tangent because you’ve chosen to interact with our post. And in the B2B world, that’s already half the battle won.
Developing thought-leadership content that sets you apart – and simply doesn’t create more noise - is hard. So here are some hard truths about what I think B2B businesses - and particularly professional services businesses – should be considering when it comes to creating content:
1. You should be creating content for at least one of these 3 reasons, if not all.
There’s no point waffling and creating more noise if you don’t have a goal in mind that you want your content to achieve. From our experience working with professional services businesses and digging into their analytics, we’ve found that content should usually be doing one of these:
A - Attract new clients: It’s the number 1 reason most B2B marketers use content marketing. From a marketing budget point of view, content marketing generates over 3 times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less. For potential new clients, the key is about creating awareness of your capabilities, demonstrate the value you provide to existing clients, and ensure you stay front of mind when they may be considering purchasing your service offering.
B - Demonstrate your continued relevance with existing clients: You’ve worked hard to win that client, now nurture them! Quickly identify trends and create content that establishes your expertise in a given area. If you can give them content that will make them look smart in their company, chances are they’ll be coming back for more…
C - Recruiting new talent: Competition for good talent can be fierce in some professional service firms. Make sure your content demonstrates what you stand for, what you believe in and why your employer brand comes out on top. Whilst your internal stakeholders and current employees may not see the benefit of given so much focus on the ‘careers’ aspect of your website, we’ve found that these sections usually sit in the top 5 most viewed pages on a professional service website.
2. Yes, your best leads may come from referrals, but…
Generating high-quality leads is one of the professional services industry biggest challenge. Not only are those leads difficult to acquire, they often take a considerable amount of time to potentially convert. In fact 63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least 3 months.
In a comprehensive research piece we completed for global law firm Taylor Wessing, we were told time and time again from internal stakeholders that most of their leads came from referrals. But when we spoke to existing and potential clients of theirs, most told us that they would want to do their own due diligence and evaluate the firm’s credentials beyond the referral they were given by a trusted source. And how would they do this? By looking at the firm’s online content around a specific topic or by looking at the content attached to an expert’s profile.
Content can play a crucial role in convincing a potential services buyer that you’re the right company to work with, beyond just thinking about the leads that this content may bring you.
3. Don’t disregard the role of editorial
Identifying a good opportunity, creating a narrative that’s of interest and understanding editorial strength of content is a special kind of skill - one that goes beyond someone uploading a post in your CMS and creating metadata. We’ve often heard from professional services businesses that they want to be ‘digital-first’ and ‘content-led’, but to be able to deliver on that promise, you need to value quality over quantity. Every. Single. Time.
Senior individuals within an organisation may have laboured over a piece of content, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s web-ready. And this is where the role of an editor comes in. Organisations need someone who will push back on content, push people to make it better, to ultimately push it live in the best format it can be. If everything and anything your content team receives makes it to your website, you may be devaluing your brand. It’s not a stretch to think that one bad post can switch someone off for the next 10 you produce.
4. Don’t be ‘one of those’ on social
You know what I mean by that, we’ve all come across examples like this:
These brands probably have something very valuable to share, but they’ve used nondescript images to post about it on LinkedIn. When 4 out of every 5 B2B leads on social media come from LinkedIn, it’s worth putting in the extra effort to make someone stop scrolling.
This is where pushing your brand and making your social assets ownable could impact your impression metrics, but more importantly your engagement ones. Professional services companies often fall in the ‘stock image’ trap, something that’s really difficult to overcome when there’s no tangible product to showcase.
If this is something that you’re confronted with, have a read of our Experience Director’s piece about how to go beyond using cliché images.
If there’s anything you’ve read here that resonates with you and your business, get in touch and we’ll see where our chat could lead!