Professionals should not abuse their power
Service professionals have a problem sharing power with their clients. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lawyer, accountant, insurance, retirement or finance professional – many of us have been trained to take a proprietary attitude to our work. This is not surprising, we have spent years in tertiary education and then many more learning to refine our understanding of complicated and sometimes arcane issues. And obviously it is intrinsic to the client-professional relationship that professionals have the knowledge and experience, and clients pay to be the recipients of this wisdom, as part of a free market commercial transaction.
In my own profession, the law, there are clear guidelines given to clients about what they can expect from the relationship. For example, the Law Society of New South Wales has the following guidelines for clients:
As the client, you should receive regular updates on the progress of your matter, preferably in writing. Your lawyer must provide advice about all your options, including the best course of action, which may be alternative forms of dispute resolution. Your lawyer must also treat you with respect, be polite and assist in your understanding of the law.
Does this ring true in your profession? That’s a fairly catch-all guideline for the physical interaction between lawyers and clients, and would well suit any professional-client relationship. But what about our online relationship with clients as content and information providers?
Using website content for transparency
Content marketing (using your website as a means to establish an authentic relationship with prospective clients that will translate into business) is at heart a matter of sharing. Not only sharing information, but also something about yourself, your firm and your services. It’s the reason that the best content marketers write about the features, not the benefits, of your firm’s services. The goal is to address the pain points of prospective clients, and do it in a conversational yet authoritative voice. Clients rarely care about the features of your service, instead they want to know what you can do to help them find a solution to a problem. To do this you must create empathetic and informative content on your firm’s website.
Many professionals prefer to keep a careful distance from our clients for reasons, we tell ourselves, of professional objectivity. Although there is some truth to this, it also results in bland generic website content that nowadays is alien to the expectations of online consumers. And yet professionals have a real advantage over most business owners, because you know exactly what your clients want – for you, as an experienced professional, it’s not about focus groups or marketing plans or slick advertising concepts. Instead it’s what you see and hear every day as you sit opposite a client with a problem. A problem they want you to deal with. So in the race for online authenticity, you have a head start if you write content for your website with an eye to that interview process. Explain complicated issues in the same clear manner you use with that client, and offer the same real world solutions that connect with that client’s needs.
Writing content is easy
So you already know most of what you need to write great content for your website. If you are prepared to invest some time in a good read, then you will find all the help you need in my eBook The Ultimate Guide To Website Content For Professional Firms (downloadable from the subscriber form at the end of this post and in the right hand margin).
Here are some immediate tips to make your written content relatable to prospective clients:
- Avoid the passive voice at all costs – it’s dull and makes no commitment to your work
- Don’t use long sentences
- Eradicate jargon unless you also explain it in plain English
- Write for the prospective clients you want to reach, not for yourself. In your mind see that client in your interview room and write for them as you would (and do) talk to them every day.
Follow those four tips and your writing will immediately improve. No kidding. It will also be more transparent. All you need to do is relinquish the power to the most important player in your online relationship – your client.
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