Growth is a priority for most businesses. At LegalVision, effective and sustained content marketing played (and continues to play) a big role in our rapid growth from a 2-person startup to a 100+ employee business in just over five years.
Attracting new clients at pace starts with building a strong, stable marketing funnel. It's not enough to simply rely on the strength of your sales pitch. Good marketing funnels start with helping your potential and existing clients to solve their problems before they are a paying client. A cost-effective way of doing this is through content marketing.
When implemented successfully, content marketing helps businesses:
- increase brand awareness; and
- boost conversions and revenue by attracting new prospects and allowing for targeted messages throughout their buyer journey.
In short, good content marketing = the foundations of a steady pattern of growth for your services business.
In this article, we will cover:
- how to craft a content marketing strategy for service businesses;
- how to produce content for each stage of the journey; and
- how to share this content to maximise conversions and revenue.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing allows service businesses to plan, create and distribute marketing information that addresses their audience's pain points and challenges.
Take special note of the word (marketing) "information", as opposed to "collateral". The goal of your content is to educate your potential (and existing) clients on how to solve a problem and why your services are the best solution in the market to this problem. But in order to do this successfully, you must put yourself in their shoes.
Pro Tip: Stop trying to sell first. The needs and wants of your audience are (or should be) at the front and centre of your content marketing strategy. Knock down the wall between you and your clients and start building sincere and authentic relationships. Remember, it's a two-way conversation.
What Does a Content Strategy Look Like?
Crafting a content strategy starts with understanding your audience and how they consume content.
If you are not yet using a marketing platform, we recommend setting up a basic template in a spreadsheet to allow you to budget for and measure the results of your efforts.
1. Define Your Audience
In order to produce content for a specific audience, first, you need to understand:
- who your target audience is;
- what problem(s) that audience is facing; and
- how your audience consumes content (including where, when and how often...).
When profiling your target audience, it is best to be as specific as possible. Try breaking down your audience into detailed customer types or personas. For example, if you're a small accounting firm, some of your personas may look like:
- Sam, the small business owner;
- Lucy, the independent contractor;
- Dave, the property investor; and
- The Joneses, the retired couple.
If you find yourself with more personas than you can cater for, try prioritising the ones that bring in the most revenue for your business.
Next, document as much as you can for each of these personas using a mixture of:
- market research;
- customer surveys;
- focus groups;
- past experience; and
- educated guesses.
Armed with this knowledge you can then dive into which channels are the best to reach them. But first, define some clear goals.
2. Set Clear Goals
Setting clear, specific goals help you think about what you're trying to achieve and how to get there. When setting goals, it's a good idea to be relevant, clear and specific.
For example, you might find that leads generated from your LinkedIn posts have the highest conversion rate so you want to focus your efforts on increasing leads from this channel. Make this goal measurable by quantifying your desired increase, for example, by 10%. Another key aspect is to set a time limit on achieving your goal, whether that's a month, a quarter, or six months (time-based).
3. Map Content-Types to Your Buyer Journey
Content marketing can take various formats depending on your audience demographics and their stage in their buyer journey. Some of the most common content formats include:
- written content: blog posts, ebooks, reports, whitepapers, service comparisons, case studies;
- visual content: infographics, videos, webinars, live interactions and demos; and
- audio content: podcasts
Pro Tip: If you're new to content, blog posts are a good place to start. Otherwise, consider auditing and repurposing your existing content.
4. Set Up a Content Production Workflow
Whether your marketing team is small or large (or is just you with a different hat!), defining a content workflow can help your business produce more and better content by increasing efficiency and improving visibility over the whole process.
A content production workflow outlines:
- where your content is sourced from; and
- who is in charge of ideation, producing, reviewing, approving and publishing it.
It also defines specific tasks within each stage and allocates an amount of time to complete them.
There are plenty of tools in the market that allow you to automate your content flow, but remember not to fall into the trap of having too many tools in your stack, as you're likely to end up under-utilising them. A basic Google Sheet can allow you to visualise the entire process and collaborate with others in your team. But if you need something more advanced take a look at tools like Hubspot.
Pro Tip: To make big waves with content, you need to produce a lot of it. If your services business has a small (or non-existent) marketing team but a large headcount, consider getting everyone in your business to contribute to your content production, such as writing a few articles or LinkedIn posts every month. This is the approach we've used at LegalVision which has helped us become the most visited legal services website in Australia.
If your business does not have the internal resources to make an effective content marketing play – hope is not lost. Consider engaging someone to write content for you, or whether you can leverage other businesses' content that your audience will find valuable. For example, LegalVision encourages businesses to share any of our content to add value to their network as part of our LVAmbassador program, allowing them to use the power of our proven content without a cost commitment.
How to Share Your Content to Maximise ROI
Once created, your content will come to life when you share it with your audience on your website, social media channels, forums, by email or any other medium they engage with. The key here is to understand how your audience consumes content and how it engages with your content.
Define Your Channel Mix
As well as knowing your audience, another key aspect of content creation is knowing how you're going to distribute it and whether you will promote it.
There is no optimal number of channels you should have in your mix. The key is to include a mixture of owned, earned and paid channels and to focus your efforts on those that will maximise your ROI. As with your audience definition, your choices should be informed by market research.
Pro Tip: Consider using an editorial calendar to plan and control how you'll distribute your content across all these different channels.
Analyse Your Content's Performance
Before publishing your content, don't forget to set clear KPIs to help you track performance and guide your future efforts. For example, if your goal is to increase traffic, a useful KPI is the (unique) number of page views – by both channel and source. These metrics depend on your distribution channels, so take a look at Google Analytics and your social media dashboards to familiarise yourself with the data you have available.
Pro Tip: It's easy to skip this step when you have so many other things to focus on, so set aside a time every month or quarter to analyse your content's performance and establish a baseline to measure your future efforts against.
Content marketing done well can help your business enter a period of hyper-driven growth. The three most important things to get right are:
- solve problems that your audience has. Don't sell. Trust that the sale will follow if you deliver real value by educating your audience.
- now everything you can about your audience and segment them into target personas; the more you know about their behaviour and challenges, the more specific you will be, and the more likely it is you will nail the first bullet point above.
- build a solid content production line. If you can't do that in-house, consider outsourcing options or strategic partnerships with businesses who already create content that your network will find valuable.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.