Content marketing means giving actual, real help to people in different forms of content – blogs, videos, guides, resources. And the best content marketing gives away as much information as you possibly can.
They already know they have a problem, or an issue: that’s why they’re looking for help from an accountant. Sharing helpful content, helpful information, is your opportunity to show them that YOU are the accountant they want to work with. They already feel frustrated, struggling, sad…or motivated, enthusiastic, optimistic. Either way, they are going to have some doubts and fears. The more information you give which proves you know what you’re talking about, the more likely it is they’ll get in touch.
This means when you’re writing a blog post, you’re not trying to find an accounting topic no other accountant has ever written about before. You would definitely struggle there, because almost every topic has been covered. But don’t despair! Because even if the topic is very similar to what others have written, there’s no other “you” in the world. No other firm exactly like yours, with your approach and your style.
So you’re not writing simply to give facts and data: you’re creating content which helps the reader to apply that to their circumstance. Or to believe it’s possible you can help them do that.
Give away information which applies to many different kinds of people
Be as helpful as possible: enormously helpful. Create content to give away everything you know, on a broad scale. If it’s information anyone could find if they looked hard enough or waited on the phone with the HMRC or the IRS long enough, or read enough blogs or watched enough videos, give it away. Tell them as much as you know, as much as it applies to “most people”. Save them a little time and cause them to be impressed by you; and also save you and your team a little time, because instead of writing out the same sort of answer in a long winded email, again, you take a few seconds to send a link to a blog or a video or another resource, job done.
Now, giving away information means exactly that. You send the link. You share the video. You let them do the reading and the consuming and the considering. The moment they want to know “but how does this apply to me?”, you’re in implementation land. Time to charge them for that.
This means you tell the whole story. You don’t merely make a statement, such as “bookkeeping will save you time” or “we can help you improve your cash flow”. You prove it. Prove it with:
- Real life examples: Even if you don’t name the particular client, you can say “we worked with a business who had this problem, and together we did this, and now they’re in this place”. Help them feel it’s possible you can help them too.
- Statistics and data: If a particular app has been really helpful for people in one industry, quote the numbers. “47% of dentists who used this app found it saved them an average of 2-3 hours a week.” Then apply it to their circumstance and help them believe it’s possible they can have a similar outcome.
- Specific details: Don’t just say “look at your cash flow for the month”: tell them, in detail, step by step, how to do that. “First you create a spreadsheet (oh, here’s a link to our template spreadsheet you can use). Then you fill in this information from your accounting app (here are the steps or a video on how to get that information). Then you look at these numbers and compare them in this way.” And so on. Giving them information means they can literally do it themselves if they want to: and that’s okay. You only need to charge people who actually need or want your help.
- Give them tools: Create resources. Checklists, documents, spreadsheets they can fill in and use. Videos that take them step by step through the problem. Blog posts giving every detail they might need. Links to other sites or books or resources which will help them further. Be generous.
You give away information, so that when they are ready, you can charge for implementation.
Let’s imagine you have written the most detailed blog post ever, about the most intricate information about a particular area of tax or VAT or credits. One of three things is going to happen as they read. They will think:
1.I need help now: “Whoa. That is a ton of information. It sounds like they really know what they’re talking about. I’m not sure if I’ll apply that correctly to my situation. I better get in touch and find out if they can help me.”
2. I’ll start it myself, but may come back for help: “Oh – perfect! This is exactly what I needed. Thanks so much, Accountant. You’ve been generous and helpful. I’ve got enough to sort my problem. I’ll remember this, and you.”
3. I don’t need help: Point 2, but after trying it for a while they get lost or confused or frustrated and return to point 1, and get in touch.
No matter what they do with the information, it’s a win.
You win if they get in touch, because they’re already impressed with your detail and experience and authority. You win if they don’t get in touch at all, because they needed a simple answer and got it, and they think well of you but nobody has wasted any time. And you win if they try it themselves, realise it’s a lot harder than they initially imagined, and come to you a bit more humbly, ready to listen and trust you and pay according to the value they will receive.
These are the three categories of help:
- Do it yourself
- Do it with help
- Have it done for you
The content you are creating is helping them decide. Reminding them the choice is always in their control. And it’s saving you and your team hours of valuable time, protecting you from having yet another hour-long prospect conversation only to realise the problem wasn’t what they thought, or they’re not willing to pay, or they’re not the best client for you to work with.
Make sure you’re answering the questions they are actually asking
One of the best ways to gather a list of questions to answer, and content to create) is a “they ask you answer” workshop with your team. Here’s the short version:
- Begin talking to the team (together, and one to one) about how much time it will save all of you if you build a library of answers to commonly asked questions
- Start a list somewhere everyone has access to (a collaborative sheet, your team app). Whenever a client or prospect asks a question you know you’ve answered before, add it to the list. Encourage the team to do this too.
- Block out 15-45 minutes with the whole team (or even a core group of the team, as long as they’re client facing)
- Find a creative space: even if it’s within your offices, choose a bright, open place which encourages creative thinking
- Choose someone to be the one who writes down all the questions (and even a few bullet points on the answers)
- Remind the team of how this will help you help them: instead of having to send long emails, they can send a blog or video or resource link
- List as many questions as you can think of in the allotted time, and then stop
- Run the workshop regularly (at least once a month) until the team are in the habit of sharing questions as soon as they’re asked
You can of course simply write a blog post or record a video every time you get a client question. But over time you will begin to find that the list of questions is longer than the amount of time you have to answer them, and you’ll want to know how to prioritise which ones to answer first. That’s answered here: How to prioritise client questions
Giving away information may seem counter-intuitive. Surely you’re giving away so much they’ll never need you at all! But think about the kind of research you do for the smallest and largest purchases you make. You read blog posts. You watch videos. You listen to stories and case studies and read testimonials. You do your research so you can figure out if this company, this product, these people, will solve your problem. And although sometimes you gather all your information and do it yourself, you’re still left with a very positive feeling towards the person or company. They helped you. If anything goes wrong, they’ll be the ones you get in touch with – and they’ll charge you for the implementation.
You’re saving time for you and your team
Remember, too, the powerful impact this has on you and your team.
Creating content saves all of you valuable time. Instead of sending yet another long email, or recording yet another video, you’re taking a few minutes to create a piece of content which can be sent to the next person who asks, and the next, and the next. You’ll spend the same amount of time (or perhaps a little more) to pause and create something applicable for many people, but the time it saves you in the long run is significant.
Most of all, the people who do end up becoming clients are coming to you more educated, more informed, and with more trust that you can and will help them.
Best client relationships ever.
Here’s more content around this topic of giving away information: