The world of website content marketing
This post is sourced in part from my eBook The Ultimate Guide To Website Content For Professional Firms. It is now available as a free download from the sidebar in this blog and at the end of the post.
A while ago I had a small epiphany. Sitting at a conference table with a group of website designers and consultants, I realized my presence that day was largely superfluous. Not much of a revelation, you might think, we’ve all had that feeling in meetings. Except that I was the architect of the online product under discussion, a joint venture with a multinational company. The product was an online database of legal and financial information, written and designed by me, as an employee relations tool for larger employers and companies.
Clearly I was heavily invested in this process.
Not that you could tell from that meeting. It wasn’t ageism that saw me outside this inner IT circle, though I was in some cases decades older than the consultants. At the meeting, the latest of many, I realized the consultants saw the product mostly as a means to showcase their expertise, which was reflected in conversations that largely disregarded the needs of the ultimate customer, the end users who would source it online. Though these consumers would be the final arbiters of its success, the IT consultants pursued an agenda of ever more demanding and time consuming technical “fixes” that in fact seemed to needlessly impede the usability of the product.
There was clearly a disconnect here. As a lawyer and writer, I understood that the product was all about the end users. For the consultants who bandied around state of the art analyses of SEO and meta tags and other technical issues of website design, every meeting seemed an opportunity to consult with each other. I was ignored not because I was older, but because I was irrelevant, despite over a decade in the provision of online information, including the development of the first Australian private online legal information provider, launched by (then) High Court Justice Michael Kirby.
Over time, during which there were significant delays in the development of the online architecture, I worked diligently to not only educate myself about every aspect of the online process (including the search engine optimization and the planned blog), but also to replicate those processes in a series of templates and exemplars. In other words, I tried to create a bridge between the information and the technical aspects of the website, including an understanding of the need for optimized content.
The eBook, which I launch this week, contains much of what I learned and continued to learn afterwards. Most of that learning has also found a home here at this website, and in my Twitter account. Please take a look around.
Why my eBook & information is for professional firms
I wrote this eBook as a comprehensive guide for professionals – lawyers, accountants and all superannuation, retirement, insurance and financial planning professionals – who have been largely ignored in the proliferating world of content marketing manuals. I believe there is a good reason for this. Service professionals function in a quite specific business culture that does not easily translate to any other commercial environment. Yes, there are operational issues that are similar to other commercial enterprises, but professionals operate under regulatory parameters and stringent legislated rules of conduct.
More important, it is the client-professional relationship that most directly influences the way professionals should design and execute a website content marketing strategy. And it is here that consultant content strategists, even those of the highest calibre, fail to make a real connection with service professionals. Like it or not, it is difficult for these consultants to understand the communication strategies and skills inherent in that relationship, simply because they have not been there. I hope my eBook addresses this gap.
In the next post I will address the thorny issue of mature professionals and their relationship to the internet.