The principals of smaller professional firms – lawyers, accountants and all superannuation, insurance and finance professionals – often complain that they cannot write content for their websites because they don’t have anything interesting to say. Here’s a foolproof system to foster a creative culture at your firm:
- Take a holistic content inventory of the firm. Open the doors, tell every staff member (including admin staff) to come up with three ideas that might work as good content for your website. Give it a few days, encourage them to talk to each other. The best ideas will be the stories of clients, especially if they have a happy ending (best avoid the disasters). Stories of client successes are both reassuring and informative, which is a marketers dream combination.
- Read something out of your comfort zone. Go for a tour around the internet and look at other websites in your professional area that have ranked highly on Google, but if possible concentrate more on the smaller suburban firms. They generally won’t be the first page results, which are often monopolised by the larger firms that have used professional (and generally high priced) search engine optimisation experts, but it is where you will find your inspiration. The best advice is to set up an RSS reader, which aggregates syndicated web content such as blogs in a single location. Unfortunately Google Reader has shut its doors, so I now use Feedly, which has a nice interface and is easy to use. If you use Feedly (or another aggregator, there are many) to subscribe to a variety of blogs in your professional area, you will be quickly be amazed at the creativity of some of your colleagues. When you come across a useful blog, just add it to your RSS reader and each time you check in it will display the latest post or article. Simple. Believe me, you will get lost of ideas for posts or website information for your clients.
- Don’t be judgmental. This is of course good advice in general, but in this circumstance it is a business, not moral issue. If you believe there is no room for content marketing at your firm, then that is what will happen. Perception is reality. A closed mindset can never be creative. If you believe there is no return on the time investment (ROI) then there will be no investment in the first place. It’s a mathematical certainty. If you need something to challenge that prejudice, we have an eBook devoted to the issue, The Business Case For Content Marketing. It’s free.
- Look at yourself. What exactly is the problem here? After all, you have a professional qualification, presumably you are literate and able to research an issue on behalf of clients. As in all psychological blocks, the first step is to properly define the problem. Perhaps it’s the word “creative”? Then change it to something else. How about “client services”, or “enhanced client relations” or “client investment” – you get the idea. Is it about self confidence? Here’s a secret – no one really knows how to write. Remember the Geoffrey Rush character in Shakespeare In Love? He plays the beleaguered theatre producer Henslowe, and in one scene attempts to placate the nervous backer Fennyman:
Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
So what do we do?
Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
I don’t know. It’s a mystery.
I have written hundreds of published articles, books etc, and I assure you the only way to produce content is to do it. Remember, you can always go back and edit as much as you wish, but first just do it.
- Change hats. This is a reference to Edward de Bono’s “thinking hats”. Content marketing is strategy, more akin to publishing than the customary strategies we might find in a standard business plan. In every other aspect of your firm you need appropriate commercial skills. In this one area, however, those same skills can be more hindrance than help. What’s needed is a different perspective. Dr. Edward de Bono developed the idea of “thinking hats” to attack business problems from singular perspectives. Each hat represents a state of mind, for example emotional, creative or informational. It reminds us to wear different hats for different business needs, each appropriate to that need, otherwise we tend towards unfocussed thinking and cluttered perspectives. When it comes to content marketing, you need your publishing hat and its perspective. That way you can propose the strategic questions a publisher might ask. What are the information needs that I can address on behalf of my clients? How can I take that opportunity, meet those unmet needs, and communicate a compelling response? That’s the hat you want to be wearing when you sit down to write.
That’s the foundation. Give it a try and you will soon be producing content with the best of them.
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