8 marketing musts for your firm

Marketing or building market strategy

Everyone wants tips to help market themselves. We’re all hoping to hear the one thing that we can do to magically bring in business. Unfortunately there is no one thing, but there are lots of little things that can help. I work a lot with lawyers and was recently on a radio show to talk about Marketing Tips for Attorneys. To prepare, the host, Ken Landau, asked me to come in with 30 tips. I’m not sure how many we actually got to, but here’s a sampling to get you started whether you are a lawyer or other kind of professional:

1. Have a strong LinkedIn profile. When someone googles your name, your LinkedIn bio is usually one of the top results. What do you want people to see there? It’s your opportunity to impress them and stand out from the competition. Don’t waste it. And don’t rely on people going to your website to read your bio there. Some may only look at your LinkedIn profile.

2. Share content regularly on social media– both your content and other people’s. Social media is like networking. You have to be out there consistently, get involved, follow up with people you meet and stay in touch. Every time you share something on social media your network will see it. Post your own stuff, but also like and comment on other people’s posts, ask questions, and start a discussion. It will build your credibility and a lot of people will reciprocate, which will expand your reach to everyone in their network. And remember to join and share posts within groups. That gets you in front of members of the group even if they aren’t part of your direct network.

3. Focus on a niche. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. Focus on a specific area, type of client, business model, etc. It’s better to focus limited marketing resources on a niche area rather than spreading them all over multiple areas. Ultimately it will bring you better leads and more money. (Check out Inc.’s, How to Narrow your Target Market for more tips.)

4. Position yourself as an expert. This goes along with focusing on a niche. Identify a topic, issue, specialty, etc. where you have experience and you can speak with authority. Get known for that by speaking and writing about that area consistently. Make sure your marketing message highlights that expertise. Again focusing on a narrow area brings better results than saying that you can help anyone with any problem.

5. Blog regularly. In determining how to rank a website, search engines look for sites with high-quality relevant information. They also look for websites that are updated frequently and have lots of pages. Blogging helps with all of these. It boosts a firm’s organic search results when prospects are searching online. And it also makes firms more credible (because they have lots of great content) for prospects who are now on the website and evaluating their services.

6. Involve employees. A recurring problem professionals have is coming up with good topics to write and speak about. Employees can help you create content that is interesting to your readers since they are often dealing with day to day issues with your clients. You want your blog posts, newsletters, presentations, etc. to address the real questions that your prospects have about their problems. Employees can also help promote your content by sharing it via their own social media channels.

7. Seek out relationships with other experts, organizations, and media. Get to know others who speak to the same market you are targeting and are well-known. They can help you build your own credibility and spread your message. But remember you have to help them first.

8. Have a marketing plan. Random acts of marketing are not effective. Create a written plan outlining who you want to specifically target with your marketing and how you’re going to do it. Then make sure you allocate resources (time and money) to getting it done.

For more tips, listen to the radio program.

12 ways to promote your e-book or white paper to bring in leads – Part 2

12 ways to promote your e-book or white paper to bring in leadsWe all hate the prospect of giving our contact information to a new website and being hit with sales pitches. But we’ll sign-up if we believe we’re getting real value out of it. As the business trying to attract leads, you need to provide that value. You also need to get the word out so people know about the great information you’re offering. In my last post, I covered 7 ways to promote your e-book or white paper to generate leads. Here are 5 more:

8. Social media. You should repurpose your content for different social media channels and drive traffic to your website. On LinkedIn, create a short related article and publish it as a LinkedIn post with a link to your e-book. Also share it as an update with your connections as well as posting it to relevant groups. Tweet tips from the book. Use Facebook. Create an infographic for Pinterest. Turn it into a PowerPoint and post it on SlideShare. Make the most of whichever channels your audience uses. Also have others within the firm share it via their own personal networks to expand your distribution.

9. Press release. Create a press release and send it out through a host of available outlets. For some great options, see Mequoda’s list of The Best Paid and Free Press Release Sites.

10. Public relations. If your e-book contains original research or offers insights/analysis on current news or trends, pitch it the media.

11. Partnerships. Reach out to associations, influencers, companies and other organizations with similar audiences who may be interested in featuring your e-book. It doesn’t hurt if you mentioned them in your book (for example, you quoted them, asked them to contribute content, included them as resources, etc.) as long as you’re doing it in a way that’s credible and genuine. People like to reciprocate. But regardless of whether there are opportunities to plug each other, remember the cardinal rule is that your content has to be valuable to your partner’s contacts. They don’t want to promote your sales pitch. Show them why their audience would want the information you are providing.

12. Print version. How often do you save an email or download something and then forget about it. There is something to be said for having a piece of paper in front of you to remind you that you wanted to read it or that you did read it and found it interesting. I believe print is still valued especially when it comes to business-oriented content. And I’m not just saying that because I worked in publishing for many years. Well-designed print materials can make content look meatier and more professional. Print versions can help you attract a new lead as well as nurture existing leads by having a physical product to provide to prospects, clients, seminar attendees, and referral sources as a reminder of who you are. Of course, provide them with the electronic version too.

Are you ready to promote your e-book or white paper? You’ve done the hard part of producing great information. Now make the most of it and spread the word.

12 ways to promote your e-book or white paper to bring in leads – Part 1

lead generation road sign illustration designArticles, blogs, videos, and other content all help to build visibility and credibility. However, often that content isn’t enough to get people to give you their contact information and become a potential prospect. To get that information, you have to offer compelling and distinctive content which your targets feel is worth the downside of giving up their anonymity. We all know that as soon as we handover our email address, we’ll be getting lots of email to add to the overwhelming clutter of our inbox. So when someone does provide that information to us as a business, they typically have more than a passing interest.

Long-form content like an e-book or white paper is a great way to attract attention, showcase your expertise, and very importantly, get individuals to give you their contact information. But you have to get the word out. Here are 12 ways to promote your e-book or white paper:

1. Website. Make sure your content is promoted throughout your site. Include a call-to-action to download or sign-up for the content on all or many of the pages of your website. Create a landing page with enticing marketing copy and a simple sign up form that won’t discourage registration by asking for too much information. Direct people straight to your landing page when you promote the e-book via other channels. Readers don’t want to have to click through a bunch of pages before they get to what they want.

2. Blog. Don’t just announce publication of your e-book in a blog post. You should publish snippets of it to act as teasers. You can do a series of posts with different content. And remember the post doesn’t have to include verbatim text. Create summaries, checklists, FAQs, charts, and case studies based on the e-book.

3. Articles. Write shorter pieces for your own or third-party publications with references to the e-book version.

4. Email. Again don’t just tell people you’ve published an e-book. Give them interesting content derived from the e-book in your email and e-newsletter to entice people to want to download it. Since you already have their contact information, you’re using the content as another way to reinforce and nurture your lead.

5. Paid advertising. If you have done well with Google AdWords in the past, paid search advertising might be useful. Sponsored ads on carefully chosen websites may also be effective. And don’t forget about social media platforms. They offer multiple ways to pay to have your content featured prominently to a broader and/or more selected audience.

6. Direct Mail. Depending on the topic and your audience, a highly targeted direct mail piece may draw people to your site. Direct mail is expensive so think carefully about who your piece is going to and what message will resonate with that audience.

7. Webinar or live event. A related presentation can boost results. Promote the presentation and e-book individually and together. If you did promote them separately and got someone to sign up, then use the other version of the content as a great way to follow up and strengthen the relationship.

In my next post, I’ll cover more tips for promoting your e-book or white paper.

Get inspired. Invest for success in content marketing.

Get inspired. Content marketing success stories.

With 86% of B2B marketers using content marketing, you would think making a business case for investing in it would be easy. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Content marketing is a long-term strategy and successful professional services firms realize that returns are measured in more than just dollars. What are some of the benefits these firms are realizing? Here are 5 success stories to inspire your own investment in content marketing.

1.  InsideOut – 388% more leads

The global provider of leadership, management and corporate training began focusing on content marketing last year. The company developed visually appealing “bite-sized” chunks of information, including slide decks, articles and videos. It put special emphasis on featuring material from the company’s thought leaders to give its content a unique perspective. Content was pushed out via email, social media, website and third party publications and press releases.

Results:

Email distribution of the content showed the most significant results. Compared to its sales-based emails, content-based emails had a 20% higher click-through rate, 87% lower opt-out rate and generated 388% more leads.

Takeaways:

  • Your content has to be compelling and unique to stand-out from the crush of information your readers receive.
  • Make the information clear and simple to digest. Focus on giving the reader the most critical points.
  • Even if you’re getting solid results with your current approach, content marketing can bring better results.

2.  Fisher & Phillips – 51K page views

The law firm was part of a 2 month pilot project with LinkedIn’s publishing platform. Before being selected for the pilot, the firm was already actively creating and pushing out content and had embraced online content as a core part of its marketing strategies. The firm promoted the posts via its social media channels and encouraged attorneys to do the same through their individual accounts.

Results:

During the pilot, its 25 posts generated 51K page views, 5.5K interactions (likes, shares, etc.) and 380 followers. LinkedIn pulse channels picked up nearly half the posts. It was well received by potential clients. Within the firm, more attorneys are now publishing and sharing content.

Takeaways:

  • Use LinkedIn as a platform for thought leadership and to build your network and credibility. It provides a great way to share knowledge and reach others who are interested in or need your expertise.
  • Be consistent to build readership. You’re more likely to be noticed if you’re regularly putting out informative content.
  • Introduce new hires to the publishing platform and encourage them to write and share content.

3.  Medix Dental – 37% open rates

The IT company, which provides technology solutions for dental offices, wanted to maintain a close relationship with clients as the company grew. It decided to commit to creating a monthly newsletter that would improve client retention and brand awareness. The goal was to make the newsletter friendly, personable and interesting and get clients reading it.  An important element of the newsletter was sharing relevant industry news and knowledge. Distribution was to clients and subscribers who signed up for it.

Results:

The company doubled its recipient list by promoting sign-ups via social media. The open rate for emails was 36.9%, which is 10% higher than the professional services industry average and got click-through rates of 10% compared to the industry average of 3.21%. Client feedback was also positive.

Takeaways:

  • Clients appreciate a more personable conversational tone. Don’t sound like you’re announcing or selling them something.
  • Focus on getting subscribers to read the content and on staying top of mind. You don’t want to get too focused on high click-through rates.
  • Offering your industry knowledge for free shows you’re knowledgeable and helpful and when clients need someone, they will think of you.

4.  Crowe Horwath – $250K in revenue

The public accounting and consulting firm won the 2013 Killer Content Marketing Lead Nurturing Award for its content program targeting C-suite leaders at financial institutions over $1 billion in assets. The company developed 48 pieces of content in four different topic areas, including executive briefs, case studies, infographics, checklists, Q&As, and a video. The focus was on helping marketers to identify key prospects and track and nurture them until they were ready to make a purchase.

Results:

The campaign engaged almost 800 contacts with a 70% open rate and 2 engagements worth $250,000 in revenue.

Takeaways:

  • Understand why your clients need your services, who makes the buying decisions and when, and what your competition is offering. You want to target the right audience with the right content at the right time.
  • Start by looking at all the data you already have on what people are interested in reading and when, where and how they read.
  • Use a variety of content formats. Different formats appeal to different readers.

5.  Heron Financial Group – 40% growth rate

Over the last few years, the RIA firm has been expanding its social media presence and making it an integral part of its marketing strategy. Social media drives traffic to its website and amplifies its content marketing efforts. Each piece of content is leveraged to reach a broader audience. For example, a 15 minute appearance on Bloomberg was shared via social media to thousands of followers resulting in 50 customer leads.

Results:

Heron has doubled its assets under management and has been growing in the 40% range since adding social media to its marketing strategy. Prior to its efforts, the firm’s growth was in single digits. The firm attributes its growth to multiple factors, but credits social media with being “a force multiplier” for a good marketing plan.

Takeaways:

  • Dedicate at least 30-60 minutes a week posting content on social media platforms and use the top 4 social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
  • Ask yourself if you would want to see your content on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. If not, don’t post it.
  • Social media makes a good marketing plan better, but it won’t fix a bad marketing plan.

Hopefully these case studies will inspire you to look at the short and long-term benefits of content marketing to support your own investment. For more examples of metrics to help measure the success of your own initiatives, see Understanding ROI. Want more case studies? Here’s a good compilation from B2B Marketing Experiences blog.

Want your content marketing to succeed? Think like a publisher.

media signpost imageThanks to social media and technology developments, professional services firms can publish their own content and attract and build their own audiences to grow their business. But to really be successful, they need to think of content the way publishers do. What does that mean?

Understand your target audience.

Publishers understand their readers. They develop profiles and gather information about who they are, what they read, how they read, their interests, concerns, etc. They also survey their audience periodically. The better you understand your own audience, the easier it is to attract and retain them.

Deliver relevant content for your audience.

Both content marketing and publishing are about providing useful and practical information targeted to a particular audience. Make sure your content is not about you. It’s about what will help readers and keep their attention.

Be reliable and consistent.

Publishers publish on a schedule. They also maintain certain standards for everything they produce. Readers develop expectations and if you want to be a trusted resource, then you need to consistently meet those expectations. Establish an editorial calendar to make sure responsibilities are assigned to specific individuals and publication deadlines are met. Create an editorial style guide to ensure there is a consistent writing style and voice.

Allocate sufficient resources.

Make sure you understand what is required to get the work done and set aside appropriate resources. You don’t want to start a content marketing campaign and find you have to abandon it because you don’t have the staff, money or other resources to continue. Even if you aren’t making money directly from your content the way a publisher might, you are looking to build your business and that means you need to make a real investment in content marketing.

Don’t skimp on editorial and design work.

You want to produce high-quality material. That means making sure your content is well-written and edited and is visually attractive. Bring in professionals to help if you don’t have internal resources.

Promote and leverage it.

Have a plan for how you will get your content in front of your audience. Publishers use multiple marketing channels including direct mail, email, web and social media to drive registrations, subscriptions and readership. They also repurpose content and look for opportunities to get more value out of it. When I worked in publishing, I would identify ways to use existing content to cross-promote, repackage or up-sell related content. Showing related content is valued by the reader and good for the publisher’s business. The same is true of your content. Linking to other relevant material keeps readers engaged and can encourage other actions – like getting them to give you their contact information. Remember to think about different formats for your content. Interesting content can be developed into a wide-range of formats including articles, blog posts, newsletters, whitepapers, webinars, video, live events and books. Different formats will appeal to different audiences.

Test and track results.

In both your marketing and your publishing, you want to know what is working. Publishers develop metrics to measure their marketing efforts against specific goals. They test constantly. On the content side, they also track what stories resonate better than others so they can deliver what the audience wants.

Develop your own distribution channels.

Publishers have a lot of control over how their content is distributed. Some license their content to third parties or use distribution partners, but they also make sure they have their own significant channels where they can build relationships directly with their readers. So make sure your content is always available on your site and that you drive traffic there. If you use content syndicators to increase your exposure, also invest in developing your own channels and compare results. What methods get you the most eyeballs on your content, the most visits to your website, or the higher quantity and quality of leads? Understand the pros and cons of each distribution channel in achieving your goals.

Have a strategy (really multiple strategies).

Creating, publishing and promoting content regularly is a significant effort and should be planned out. What kind of content should you produce? For what purpose? For what audience? How will it be promoted and distributed? What resources do you need? You’ll want an editorial strategy as well as a marketing strategy for each audience you want to target.

Thinking like a publisher in your content marketing will help you stay focused on delivering content that brings results.