The middle way of content marketing
The Managing Partner in your professional firm does not want to know about content marketing. She doesn’t want to know about the optimum use of your website. She doesn’t have any interest in a wider marketing effort on the internet. She thinks this is all a waste of the firm’s precious time, and….yes, time is not only money, it’s also time away from the needs of the firm’s clients. She’s tired of hearing of the latest book you have read about content marketing. She says the authors of these books are not lawyers (or accountants, finance or insurance professionals or planners) and have no idea about the culture of a professional firm or the needs of clients of a professional firm.
Then there’s that weird interest in Buddhism you (now regretfully) brought into the argument. You told her, “I understand your issues, but think of content marketing for our firm as a Buddhist Middle Way, a path between the extremes of doing nothing and doing too much too quickly. Get it?”
She did not.
You need a business case
Here’s where she’s absolutely right – those books are not written by practicing professionals. They are not written by people who have an intimate understanding of the professional-client relationship. Her skepticism relates to the misunderstanding of that relationship by people who sell services to retail and other commercial operators. As she said at the end of that last conversation (the one in which you raised Buddhism), “we’re not selling soap powder”.
Here’s what you need to make your argument. You need a Business Case.
First look to word of mouth
This is where you have taken the wrong path with your partner. To allay her concerns, which are legitimate, you should stop quoting internet marketing experts and explain your plans in terms that every professional will instantly comprehend. And that’s word of mouth. She’s right to criticise.
I have written before about some SEO (search engine optimisation) consultants and the dangers of their sales pitches. The same issues could be raised about twenty-something “Content Consultants” who really don’t have enough life experience in general, and specific experience in the milieu of professionals firms, to create an effective dialogue with professionals or (by proxy) their clients.
Always first look to word of mouth. As Andy Sernovitz has noted in his excellent book Word of Mouth Marketing, to gain these referrals you ought to:
- give people a reason to talk about you; and
- make it easier for that conversation to take place.
Your partner will understand this argument because she knows, as every professional does, that word of mouth referrals are the mainstay of any professional firm.
Now let’s anticipate her follow-up question.
How does website content promote word of mouth?
You will immediately acknowledge that this is indeed an excellent question. The answer is straightforward, and (thankfully) demands no reference whatsoever to Buddhism. Nowadays search engines (i.e. in practice Google) are the dominant professional directories, so a marketing effort that improves both word of mouth and search engine rankings is the best strategy.
The fulcrum issue is that these word of mouth conversations nowadays take place online and offline, and in fact interact to produce what has been called “Social Voice”.
Content Marketing represents a form of word-of-mouth marketing in which readers consume, engage and share your useful brand content. A strong content marketing strategy hits closer to the 90% trust level than any paid banner ad at the other end of the consumer trust scale (Hatchd Digital).
Clients and prospective clients utilize your firm website as a means to gauge who you are, and often as a virtual “pre-interview”. To the extent that you can create a narrative, be useful, be educational and think strategically about the needs of clients and prospective clients, you will greatly increase your word of mouth.
This is the best approach to reluctant partners, an appeal to both the well-worn and trusted word of mouth and the online content development that supports it.
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