We published a whitepaper that examines how professional services firms can leverage the power of branding to stand out in an increasingly competitive industry. It’s a fairly comprehensive look at the process of building a solid and differentiated brand, from conducting internal and extensive research to identifying core brand attributes and developing a positioning…
What do professional services firms and media companies have in common? In one word: Content.
It is impossible to ignore the increasingly important role that content is playing in B2B marketing, especially for professional services brands. In a world inundated with information, professional services firms that are able to deliver valuable, relevant content in compelling, engaging and even entertaining communications platforms that make their prospects smarter and also hold the key to industry-dominating thought-leadership status.
For classic media companies, content production is directly correlated with monetary profit. But for non-media companies, content is created to attract new customers and keep existing customers engaged and interested. Professional services firms are especially challenged because the content they produce not only competes with other consultants in the field, but with the plethora of information provided on the Internet as a whole.
Creating quality content takes patience and commitment but more than that, when you’re in competition with the World Wide Web (literally), the real opportunity to stand out is by producing content that others are not. To do this, firms must make sure their content strategy aligns closely with their brand. This means finding that content niche that is truest to the brand, with content that is most credible and unique coming from the firm. That is what will make clients and prospects pay attention.
One thing you can guarantee your competitors don’t have: your people. Professional services firms are essentially information gold mines; they’re full of highly capable and experienced professionals in a range of subjects who have dealt with varying clients and have been exposed to best and worst practices as they occur in actual business situations. Opportunity is the key word to remember here—the opportunity to leverage this amazing depth of human capital to create truly unique content and deliver it to B2B buyers in a synchronized fashion across all touch points.
Professional services firms that have had the most successful in content marketing are the ones that have been able to utilize their most valuable resource — top executives and employees. Insights made by executives are based upon their daily business interactions in their fields of expertise. Therefore, their insights make for an effective way of not only creating original content, but creating content that has real time value for prospects and customers.
Of course, content can come in many forms; podcasts, videos, whitepapers, blog posts, webinars, and even infographics; and all are viable and engaging when done efficiently and effectively. For example, Accenture, has separate, specialized blogs for every industry they serve as well as newsletter subscriptions and podcasts for consumption — all prominently featuring the industry expert (and member of the Accenture team) that developed the content. In addition to ‘classic’ forms of content though, Accenture promotes online events that showcase live debates on current issues between industry leaders. PwC lists global monthly highlights on their site as they relate to their different business sectors, and they provide a series of video interviews with the companies top executives, covering varying topics from managing talent to building competitiveness. The executives interviewed in this series oversee PwC businesses in countries all over the world, so the interviews showcase their varying perceptions and assessments on current issues as they occur on a monthly or even weekly basis.
The fact is professional services firms must become storytellers, not simply content producers, in order to get noticed. To do this, firms must turn to their most treasured assets — people! Executive knowledge can be used as a way of providing real-world insights from professionals who have experienced the business first hand. What better storyteller is there than the professional services executive who has just returned from an international conference on the state of affairs in the world of accounting, real estate, or some related field?
No matter what size your firm is, the key to identifying your content niche is by looking internally. Here lies a deep pool of credible sources, valuable and relevant content, and insights that cannot be found elsewhere because they are entirely unique to your firm. Thus, allowing your company’s content to be truly original.