In my last two posts I’ve described the role of marketing in a professional services firm as being that of facilitating change management. A prospective client is embarking on a journey. That journey is likely one of moving from a place of frustration to a place of greater advantage. Well executed 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.
Change Management Requires Two Forms of Content
This process is largely enabled by the professional services marketer through two forms of content:
- Content that Educates
- Content that Motivates
In this post, I write about the latter.
Content that Motivates Helps An Educated Prospect Envision the Future
Imagine your prospect standing on an empty road. To her right is where she’s been. To her left is where she’d like to go. She’s consumed a lot of your educational content and she can start to imagine a future that is better than her past. But, that picture is fuzzy. While she can picture what’s to the right in stunning detail, what’s to the left is still a bit unclear. It’s simultaneously exciting and a bit frightening. She senses that it’s a better place to be, but she’s not entirely sure what it looks like.
Now, imagine standing in front of her is a street sign. That street sign describes with stunning simplicity what awaits her to the left. It doesn’t offer a detailed description per se, but it does something better. It paints a picture of what awaits her and it motivates her to proceed. This street sign is your motivating content.
Content We Use to Motivate
Once a prospect begins to identify a solution, he or she has to build the courage to invest time and money towards creating the change he seeks. At this point, the prospect is seeking the confidence necessary to move forward with his intended course of action. The role of your marketing in this process is to help the prospect visualize what that future looks like.
This can largely be done through “short form case studies,” though not likely through the typical “long form case studies” most firms have. A “long form case study” is usually a multi-page synopsis of the client relationship that provides a detailed description of a client’s business and industry, a summary of their challenges, documentation of the solution recommended, and a somewhat detailed synopsis of outcomes related to the solution. Case studies of this sort are best used in proposals for large engagements because they effectively document experience and by doing so reassure a buyer that we’ve done what we say we can do. That said, they don’t inspire change. Remember, at this point in the buying cycle the prospect is looking for the confidence to move forward. Building confidence is a largely emotional activity.
Use “Short Form Case Studies” to Motivate
A “short form case study” has three components:
- It uses clear, root-level data to share the most important high-level business outcomes of the firm’s work.
- It conveys a “before” and “after” state that helps the prospect envision the change her or she seeks — ideally this is accompanied with a visual component.
- The best ones, incorporate short video clips featuring people directly involved in the program and the change the work enabled.
A pretty good example of “short form case studies” in action can be found at the website of the software company Marketo. Below is a screen shot of both the case study landing page and an actual case study page.
Case Study Landing Page
This page lists all the case studies the company has to share. It packages each with high level data that speaks only to the impact of the relationship. This lets a prospect quickly scan and identify with an issue he or she is trying change.
Individual Case Study Page
The actual “short form case study” shares highlights of the client engagement in a quick bulleted list, it provides a visual that enables a prospect to see themselves in the story, and a short video to further help the prospect paint a picture of what change looked like in a business like his or hers.
In my next post in this sequence, I’ll write in more detail about how to apply these two types of content to your web strategy.