If you’re looking for an interesting way to create compelling content for your marketing efforts, this guest post by Carl Friesen offers a thoughtful approach.
Carl is founder of Thought Leadership Resources, which provides educational materials to help professionals such as engineers, lawyers, consultants and architects learn how to get noticed and stand out as thought-leaders.
Showing Extra Value to Convert Buyers of a ‘me-too’ Service
In any professional service, it’s important to give the client a reason to choose your firm over a competitor. Yet many of the services your firm offers are probably pretty much the same as those offered by other firms. Your pricing is about the same. This means your firm is vulnerable to a competitor who decides to low-ball, resulting in a race to the bottom regarding fees.
At the same time, there’s an acute need for your firm to defend and grow the revenue streams from these “commodity” practices. This is because they are likely your firm’s bread-and-butter, providing billable work to a wide range of the firm’s members, including its most junior.
So what, then, would convince prospective clients to choose your service over those of another firm?
In a word, “trust.”
To see why, think of yourself buying a commodity service – cleaning the ducts in your house, dry-cleaning an expensive garment, or checking your car’s brakes. Many competing providers offer these services, and their prices are similar. But you’d prefer one provider over another if you had a reason to believe that they’d go the extra distance in protecting your interests, actually cared about you, and were particularly qualified to do the work.
One way to develop this level of trust is through a type of content called “How-to-work-with,” or HTWW. It describes how a customer or client can get good results in working with a service provider in a given field or profession.
One way to develop this level of trust is through a type of content called “How-to-work-with,” or HTWW.
For example, consider a lawyer with a focus on preparing individual wills. Good HTWW content would advise a potential client what information the lawyer will need to do the work, what documents to bring to a meeting, how many meetings might be involved, and other success factors.
Capturing and converting customers late in the sales cycle
HTWW content is useful for helping, engaging and converting people who are late in the sales cycle – just before they make a choice of a service provider. Think about it – who would be googling “how to work with a forensic accountant,” other than someone who has a full-blown fraud crisis on their hands?
It can also help convert customers who have a service provider they are displeased with, and who are looking for alternatives. You may be able to scoop up a rebound relationship as a result.
This makes anyone seeking HTWW content a particularly valuable lead. If there is any place to focus your high-value lead generation tools, such as a free consultation, this is it. The people who seek out, and then read to the end of HTWW content are not tire kickers. They are people ready to buy.
Consultation is key to good HTWW content
Designing effective HTWW content starts by asking members of your firm, who interact directly with clients, for the advice they’d give. Find out what factors cause projects to go well, and what pushes them sideways.
HTWW content is useful for helping, engaging and converting people who are late in the sales cycle – just before they make a choice of a service provider.
It helps to consider projects that went particularly well — all the stars aligned, it worked like a dream – and what factors contributed to this happy result. Then, think back to the nightmare projects, in which Murphy’s Law ruled, and then list the factors that contributed to the fact that everything that could go wrong, did so.
Consider which factors are within your control, within your client’s control, and which are external – such as the response of a regulatory authority, tax authorities, or a third-party supplier.
Some questions to consider:
- What is the best time in a larger process, such as a construction project, to involve professionals such as those of your firm – towards the beginning of the larger process, middle, or end?
- What information does the client need to provide, in order for your firm to do its best work? What’s the best format to provide it in – an electronic spreadsheet, printed diagrams, work samples, or something else?
- What’s the best way to secure confidentiality of data?
- What risk-mitigation steps can be taken to add reliability into the process – regular meetings, update reports, cross-checking, or proof-reading?
- What steps can the client take in order to save money on a service provider such as you – for example, retaining some of the work in-house?
In developing effective how-to-work-with content, it may be best to imagine yourself sitting down for a coffee or a beer with your best friend, who asks you: “How do I get good results working with someone like you?” Then prepare content that gives your answer to that question.