I could not be more thrilled at the publicity that ‘content marketing’ is beginning to gain for accountants.
But be careful.
As many of you know, you’ve been treated badly in the past by consultants, coaches, marketeers. Many have felt taken advantage of, because this marketing thing can be so complex.
Of course there are many out there who truly want to help you. (I endeavour with all I have and am to be one of those.) Who want to provide resources and solutions that will bring you more leads and more clients and make your firm last, and help you become more profitable.
But because content marketing is the most powerful form of marketing for accountants (as well as anyone in professional services), we’re in a time where it’s possible that this taken-advantage-of situation could happen again.
And it is critical that you understand clearly what true content marketing is, so that you can get the best results possible.
True content marketing takes time, and happens on a drip feed
You can’t simply look for the magic wand, the golden bullet (silver bullet?) which will make content marketing – like any other type of marketing – super easy for you.
Pay a little money, get the Content Marketing 101 package, slap your logo on it, send it to clients. Content marketing, done. Move on.
(By the way, I’m well aware that we’ve just launched a Content Marketer programme which we are encouraging just about every accountant in the world to join in on. But that programme has been built to educate you about what content marketing truly is, and to help you build and develop your own content, which is unlike that of any other accountant in the entire world.)
True content marketing is original
True content marketing is custom – not just to issues facing most small businesses today, but the issues that your individual, specific, real-people clients are going through right now.
The results are in. I’m not the only one preaching this: a recent article by Contently states unequivocally that “licensed content doesn’t work in content marketing. For brands, original content always wins”.
You can buy in content from so many different places. And some of them are specific to accountants.
It may have some good advice for your clients. It may address the issues your client faces. It may even help you a little with your marketing. And it’s definitely, absolutely, always cheaper than sourcing original content that is exclusive to your firm.
But it’s not content marketing.
True content marketing is built around your style and brand
When you produce original content for your firm, it’s based on your personality. The words you use (or don’t). Your style which is like no other accountant on earth. That element which someone feels when they meet you in person, or come to your offices, or listen to you speak.
It’s also based on your own clients. (Not just the general clients of the accounting world.) And also your prospects. Their needs. The things you, personally, talk to them about every day.
This makes for the best content marketing, because when they engage with you (whether via your website or some other way) they are connecting with you, personally. It’s like they’ve met you before they’ve even met you.
We’ve been so honoured when we’ve built a website for an accountancy firm, and their clients read it and say, “I’ve heard you use that exact phrase before!” Of course. We do our utmost to make the copy on the website sound like the person or the firm. It gives consistency, and it builds trust.
As an accountant and a provider of a professional service, building trust is the highest priority for any marketing that you do.
True content marketing delivers on lead generation
Whilst content marketing is a drip-feed process, it is the kind of process that delivers. That’s the beauty of it.
Some clients see results straightaway. Within a month or two they’ve gotten a brilliant lead (or a few leads) and they’re off to the races.
Other clients, it takes longer. Perhaps they’re only investing a little, or they don’t have a niche, or they’re not known for a particular expertise area yet.
The question is often asked, “How quickly can I expect to see results?”
The answer is always, “It depends.”
It depends on your firm, your content, your relevance, your market.
It depends how much you’re investing and whether you are just focusing on one area or integrating your original content with social media, SEO, branding and design, your website, speaking engagements, and more.
But as a rule of thumb, it’s typically going to take six months before you begin to see things happening. And in all reality you’re looking at least at a year. It’s a delayed response. When you start the content marketing trickle, you have to keep it going, and wherever possible turn the tap a bit further and a bit further.
And if you turn the tap off, you have to start from the beginning again. You can’t stop the content marketing trickle, and then expect six or twelve months later to pick up where you left off. Everyone else has rushed in to fill that gap, and it’s going to take time to open it up again.
But regardless of the length of time it takes, the results are absolutely rock-solid that this is the kind of marketing that gets you the best kind of clients. The highest quality leads. Those who are your kind of people, willing to work with you whatever it costs, and thinking along the same lines you are.
Because you’ve shared with them your thoughts, and they love it.
True content marketing is loved by Google
This is really, really important.
Search engines penalise you for duplicate content
If there is even one accountant out there in the entire world using the same content as you, there are Google penalties to be paid.
And the penalty box is located on the second – or third, or fifth, or fiftieth – page of Google.
Google will not return your site for what the searcher is looking for if your content is generic, licensed, used by someone else.
And we all know that the best place to hide a dead body is on page two of Google.
It’s getting more complex as well. Did you know that….
….the ads have been completely wiped off Google now? Go to www.google.co.uk right now and search for anything. There’s nothing on the right hand side. That’s because hardly anyone uses desktops, and also because content is not just king – it’s emperor and world ruler. People don’t need ads, because Google knows what they’re looking for. (And it’s not your generic content.)
….blog posts of 1000 words or more are given more credit in the Google algorithm? There are so many elements to how Google makes its decision about what results to return to the searcher, but the length of your (original) content matters. If it’s super short, maybe you’re not much of an expert.
True content marketing is very, very expensive
Whether you write it yourself or hire someone else to do it, the best content marketing is so far from cheap it doesn’t even want to be seen in the same room. Maybe not even in the same country.
It’s “go big or go home” time.
If you’re not willing to invest in content marketing – as well as in your brand, website, social media, networking, exhibitions, and other elements that work together with your good content – please believe me when I tell you that there are a lot of accountants out there who have already woken up to this, and some of them have already invested upwards of £50,000 on all of these areas of their marketing – per year.
What kind of place do you think they’re getting to online? In the search results? On social media?
Naturally, you do not have to go this route. You are more than welcome to get results other ways. It’s just that in the past few years, in my experience and that of many other experts out there, I haven’t seen anything to touch content marketing for sheer power.
It’s not just the results in terms of profit – it’s the type of clients you get. The absolute cream of the crop. The ones who are keen. Ready. Get the concept (whether it be cloud accounting or Xero or management accounts or FD services or whatever). And most of all, they’re willing and ready to pay.
Lots of money.
On average, those who recognise you as a visible expert because of the content marketing you’ve been doing are ready to pay you 14 times more than they would pay someone with very similar skills to you, who is not visible, not online, not known. (This is backed up by research done by Hinge Marketing Institute – click here to log into our Free Stuff hub and download the Visible Expert study.)
True content marketing only increases the buyer’s desire to work with you
One of the concerns accountants often have is, “If I develop this helpful content that you’re telling me about, why will this person need me? They could do it themselves with all I’ve given them?”
The answer is, as Hinge said on a recent webinar regarding high performing websites, “We live in an age of transparency. Audiences expect this. They expect to be able to validate this expertise, they expect the excellence, and if you’re not doing it, someone else will be.”
The reality is that your educational content is only the first step.
Implementation and execution are the hardest things.
That’s what they pay you for.
You can tell them that Xero is brilliant, and if they add ReceiptBank and Chaser and TripCatcher and Crunchboards and Gocardless they will be in this amazing place.
And they could do it themselves. Anyone could watch the Xero videos and sign up with Chaser and write the emails and link the systems….but they don’t. Because they’re too busy and they’re worried they’ll miss something and really, who has that kind of time?
Your average buyer is highly, highly educated. The more content marketing is available, the more educated they will be. If it’s not you, it will be someone else – and it won’t be as good as what you could do!
You don’t have to give everything away, of course. Give them enough to go on, and be available to help. I can give you a twelve step list to writing the blog post that kills (in a good way), and a few of you might go away and give it a shot. But what I can’t give you is the time saved if you simply give us a topic and a few bullet points and we go and write it for you.
The only people who decide to do it themselves are those who can’t afford your fees. And those aren’t the kind of clients you want, anyway.
If this has whetted your appetite, sign up for our Content Marketer programme, exclusively for accountants. You’ll learn all about how to implement content marketing in your firm, and you’ll do it on a drip feed.