A few days ago, I wrote a post describing the marketing of professional services as change management. Well executed professional services marketing slowly moves a prospect down the process of buying and positions the firm as an expert along the way. By the time the prospect is ready to buy, the firm has credibly established its expertise, reduced competitive influences and increased the likelihood of closure. In that post, I described two forms of content the professional services marketer needs to provide to facilitate that process:
- Content that Educates
- Content that Motivates
In this post, I write about the first form of content:
Content that Educates: It Starts with Questions
The process of change the potential buyer is about to go through starts with a point of dissatisfaction or a point of curiosity. Those things he’s curious about take the form of a question and should be the root of the educational content you strive to create. In my last post (referenced above) I described a hypothetical engineer at a large producer of electrical power who is responsible for plant emissions. We’ll use him again here as our example. Though the questions he asks himself are surely more technical in nature than these, what he’s likely asking might sound something like this:
- Our emissions meet industry regulations, but I wonder if we could be exceeding them?
- I wonder if there’s a more efficient or less costly way for us to sustain emissions at their current levels?
- I wonder if there are alternative uses for our waste I haven’t thought of?
- What is the remaining life of our current emissions technology?
Where does our hypothetical buyer go for answers to some of these questions? He might go to trusted colleagues at other companies, he might visit association websites, he might consult industry publications, he might post a question to a LinkedIn group, or he might do a plain old fashioned Google search. In short, he reaches out for trusted experts who can educate him and answer his questions. He seeks answers in the form of content — be it written or spoken. Those firms or people producing informative useful content are likely deemed to be experts.
What Type of Content?
Your expertise-oriented content should be designed to answer the fundamental questions a prospective buyer of your services may be trying to answer right now. This content can start in the form of blogs and articles on your site and later be parlayed into articles for industry publications or speaking engagements. Regardless of the form you choose, your content is designed to be educational and informative in nature. It’s not designed to sell your services nor is it intended to persuade your prospect to take any one course of action. Its produced regularly and it exists solely to demonstrate your knowledge of the clear, root level questions your prospect is trying to answer. Ultimately, the type of content you choose is not hugely important as long as you pick a format your comfortable with and can sustain. For a detailed analysis of various forms of content, I’d suggest reading the article, Four Stages of Content Marketing, written by Christopher Butler at Newfangled Web Factory.
In my next post, we’ll look more closely at content that motivates.