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Is Content Really Everything For Mature Professionals?

Content is everything

What is content?

We tend to think of content as that function of our firm that conveys something of value in writing  to our clients. Here is an aphorism that might make it a little clearer for mature professionals – when it comes to your website, all content is marketing and all marketing is content. What does this mean apart from a smart aleck adage? It means that everything you write on your website should be about marketing to your clients. That is the essence of “content marketing”.

What type of content? Blogs, eBooks, FAQ, webinars, podcasts, media releases, images  – anything that is on the website, including the home page. Everything is content, and all content is marketing. Think of it as a conversation and not words on a page.

Are our firm’s services content too?

Some commentators take this concept to another level.

Having a very linear and restricted view of what content is will only restrict and inhibit results:

– Content is the staff within your business.

– Content is the design of your shop/office.

– Content is your products and services.

– Content is the menus on your tables.

– Content is your company values.

– Content is your customers.

– Content is EVERYTHING.

This might be taking it a little far. You can’t apply the same parameters to services as the content on your website. No matter how innovative you claim to be in your client services, there is an element of sameness in the service delivery amongst professionals. In general, especially for smaller suburban firms, there is not the same scope for innovation as exists in the production of website content, which can be endlessly reimagined.

However, it is how they are described that can make a true marketing difference and add value to the service. As well, the culture and values that encompass service delivery can be seen as  “content”.

But there is no doubt that good content will transform your firm’s website. Bland content, so often associated with professionals – lawyers, accountants and all superannuation, insurance and finance professionals – will only harm those efforts.

What are your goals?

It all depends on your goals. What is your marketing objective? Is your main appeal to existing or prospective clients? What type of narrative will appeal to them? For most small suburban firms that will involve in some form of narrative or storytelling:

We thrive on rich imagery – words are always better when they create an image.  If you are a lawyer describing a will, don’t assume your readers have in mind the same document you do. Instead of describing a will as a “document that deals with your estate”, try to give it some colour. “Why do you need a will? Your family are grieving, they are confused and anxious about the future. The last thing they need is to have those anxieties exacerbated.”

But if your marketing strategy is to reach (for instance) high worth clients concerned with inter-generational wealth transfer that maintains its capital value, a different strategy will be needed. Those clients don’t want a well crafted marketing story, they want a well crafted and communicated investment strategy that uses carefully constructed legal and financial instruments. They want you to exhibit your specific expertise, and they are willing to pay for it.

What content should we produce?

It’s not the “what” that matters – it’s what the content achieves. Does it educate clients? Does it create an empathetic relationship with the client? Does it anticipate or alleviate pain points in their service transactions?

This is a different model than the traditional online “brochure” advertising of most professionals. It requires an understanding of your clients’ wider needs. It is no longer enough to know they need proper house insurance. To properly address those insurance needs, and to lure them through your content, you need to show them you have anticipated their underlying anxieties about the best ways to protect their assets and their families.

That’s real content marketing.

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Tell Your Clients A Story

Tell clients a story

What is your story?

Do you want to adopt a content marketing campaign that will knock the socks off the competition? Then look to a communication strategy that has been paying dividends since you were born. Really, because what I suggest is that you turn back to your youth and tell a story, just like the ones your parents read whilst you sat eagerly on your bed, straining to hear every word. You loved these stories because they had a beginning, a middle and an end. There were heroes and villains. It had a narrative. It made sense. I know you think this is not a business strategy, but it’s exactly the best way to explain who you are, what you do, and what you can do for your clients.

We all love stories – we love a narrative. Why? It’s hard to believe, but we are pretty much the same people as our ancestors in the African Savannah 130,000 years ago gazing at the fire. Same brain size as we have now. And what were they doing as they stared at that fire? They were telling stories. The delight we have in stories, and the ability to explain otherwise complicated issues by using stories, is hardwired into our brains.

Stories connect with clients

Stories connect your clients with your topic on a personal level – the right story creates empathy. The right story can help prospective clients identify with your firm, not in the cynical manner of advertising, but because you have taken the trouble to reach out and explain yourself in a way your competitors cannot replicate. Either they don’t know how, or more likely they believe it’s not “professional”. While they are elucidating the minutiae of self managed superannuation funds, you have made the same point by telling the story about one of your clients who used a self managed superannuation fund to take their dream trip around Australia in a vintage American Airstream caravan. How did they achieve this? By taking your excellent advice, that’s how.

The heart of plain English content marketing is its authenticity. That’s why consumers have now become, and will become increasingly so,  conditioned to reject the conventions of overt marketing. This is good news for professionals who can tell a story. When online, consumers adopt a different psyche than their passive radio or television counterparts, and instead identify with the “social” aspect of the media, which is unmistakably interactive compared to earlier technologies. For mature professionals, who well understand the value of effective communication, this is an opportunity to leverage already honed skills.

Stories help professionals

We love stories that have a message, and that message can certainly be commercial in nature. When she was little, my daughter used to write stories, wonderfully written, but they were just events followed by more events. One day I said to her, “in a story something has to happen and that’s why the word ‘suddenly’ is such a great word”. Off she went and returned a few hours later holding her newest creation. In this story she enjoyed a walk, bought an ice cream, went to the park, played sport, then headed home. On the way home there were people in the street and SUDDENLY they turned into aliens. She had accomplished the one thing we want to achieve with any story, even in a business website, because now I was hooked. I wanted to know what happened next.

We thrive on rich imagery – words are always better when they create an image.  If you are a lawyer describing a will, don’t assume your readers have in mind the same document you do. Instead of describing a will as a “document that deals with your estate”, try to give it some colour. “Why do you need a will? Your family are grieving, they are confused and anxious about the future. The last thing they need is to have those anxieties exacerbated by your failure to take care of their needs. Yes, you may be dead, but one of your legacies can be to take care of their needs even when you are not there to make your presence felt in a physical sense.”

Remember, intellectual understanding is overrated. Believe me, you will explain most professional concepts a lot better with metaphors and analogies than any jargon that you believe, wrongly, demonstrates your professional expertise.

Where to start

If you want a lot of ideas about building content  then check out our fee eBook on the introduction to content marketing, or just get in touch for a chat (free) or ask a question.

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photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin

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"Lawyer and plain-English expert Geoffrey Winn wants to set you free to make the legal and financial decisions that will help you take control of your life."



"Practice Management: How to Get To The Top" by Geoffrey Winn               

Law Institute of Victoria Journal May 2014  



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