You’ve seen what original content marketing has done for other accountancy firms. Maybe it was a viral post on LinkedIn, or a YouTube video with tens of thousands of views. You’ve even heard the statistic that 70% of a buying decision is made online before a prospect gets in touch, so you know how important content is. But you feel like everything you want to say has been said before. You’re worried you won’t be adding anything new.
Content creation is not necessarily about adding something new to the conversation in terms of facts, or data, or knowledge. Let’s face it, at this point in human history, almost everything we have to say has been said by someone else. That doesn’t mean it’s without value. By creating your own original content, you’re utilising the greatest sales tool ever to build your brand, attract customers, and improve as an owner, communicator, and writer. Content that reflects you as a person will always be truly unique and provide huge value to your business.
Your content is good because it’s yours.
As a content writer, my whole work life revolves around – you guessed it – writing content. If I write five blogs on R&D tax claims for five different accountants, every single one will be completely unique.
As an accountant, this may not make sense. You might be thinking, “my content is similar to everyone else’s. It’s the same topics, the same facts. What’s the point?”
From a technical standpoint, yes, your content will be similar to the content others create. Two blogs discussing a change in tax legislation or the specifics of a piece of accounting software will hit some of the same points. But even if everything you’re saying is the exact same as another accountant, HOW you’re saying it won’t be.
And how you say it is what appeals to the kind of clients you want.
Your content is a reflection of your brand. As you know if you’ve gone through PF’s Accelerator, your brand is what attracts the type of clients you love to work with. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, once said, “Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” However you feel about Bezos as an individual, he was right about this: your branding will speak for your company when you’re not there to do it. It speaks to the type of clients you want, the values you live by, how you take your clients on a journey and where that journey leads to.
What does your content sound like when it stands alone? When you’ve done the work to create a brand that is purely and uniquely you, then your content won’t sound like every other accountants’.
So how do you ensure your content reflects your brand?
One of our recent Accelerator graduates came to us with what he called a “classic email” from one of his clients: “I’m looking to buy a van for my business, and I have some questions.”
You’ve probably gotten a similar email or call from one of your clients, who was interested in purchasing a company car and looking for guidance. If you search that question online, you’ll find dozens of blogs and videos giving advice. And you might also find that the advice already being given is similar to what you would say.
You can still create an entirely unique and distinctive piece of content that reflects your brand, even if you’re not saying anything new. To do this, consider your:
Audience: the very first thing to consider when creating content is who you’re speaking to. You want this category to be as narrow as possible so when your ideal client reads your blog, they’ll think to themselves, “that is so me!”
First, consider what type of business owner you’re speaking to. What sector do most of your clients operate in? How big are they? Where do they do business? Our Accelerator graduate works with SME creative businesses in the UK, so he’ll tailor his content about company vans to address these people in particular.
Next, ask yourself what you love most about your favorite client – are they forward-thinking? Do they value family and work-life balance? By knowing your audience’s qualities and beliefs, you can further tailor your content to speak to their values and match your brand. For example, I’m not just writing to accountants here: I’m writing to ambitious accountants who are excited to be a part of their own marketing journey!
Tone of voice: Many of the accountants we work with have come to us with fear and insecurity about their writing. They don’t know how to make it sound “good.” But you don’t need to worry about making your content sound “good”; make it sound like YOU!
If you’re struggling to let your true self shine through in your writing, try first recording a video or a voice message. Pretend that you’re giving this advice to a friend you’ve met for coffee or a drink, then watch back your recording and transcribe what you said. Our Accelerator graduate first filmed a video for the client who asked him about company cars, and then used that video to write a draft of a more general blogpost.
With a recording, you’ll be able to see how you naturally structure sentences or word certain explanations, and it will result in a more genuine and brand-reflective piece of content!
Topic: the best way to pick a topic that is true to your brand and speaks to your audience is to use the specific questions and challenges your clients face. Our Accelerator graduate didn’t decide to write about buying a company vehicle out of nowhere. He was answering a question a client asked him.
At PF, we have a Slack channel devoted to the questions and challenges our clients reach out to us with. We call this the “They-ask” channel, after Marcus Sheridan’s book ‘They Ask, You Answer’ (more on this later).
We also have a spreadsheet where we list out the questions we’re asked and rank them on how urgently we’ll create a piece of content answering them. This ranking is based on a number of factors, including how often this question is coming up and if it impacts the kind of client we love working with.
By basing your content topics directly on the challenges of your clients, you can be confident that you’re accurately reflecting your brand and providing true value to the people you work with.
Specific Processes: make your advice as specific to the way you do business as possible. For example, our Accelerator graduate uses Xero with all his clients in his practice. When he talks about recording the expenses of a company car, he’ll give advice on how to do it within Xero.
Past Successes: Whenever you can, include specific examples of clients you’ve worked with in the past and the way you helped them overcome whatever challenge you’re discussing. For example, our Accelerator graduate might describe how he had a London-based photography business of 350 employees that he helped purchase cars for as a business expense. This does two things:
- It helps similar businesses that he wants to work with recognize themselves in the content, so they’ll have that, “this is so me” feeling.
- It instils confidence that he knows what he’s doing, has experience in this field, and is prepared to help his ideal client with their specific issues.
As you can see, creating original content is a great way to sell to your specific audience. Plus, unlike a human salesperson, content never stops selling.
Content never sleeps.
If you’ve not picked up a copy of Marcus Sheridan’s “They Ask, You Answer,” well, here’s a sign to do just that. You can also check out our Head Content Writer’s blog on the Big 5 Blog Topics that Sheridan identifies in his book.
“They Ask, You Answer,” is filled with mind-blowing statements, but this is one of my favorites:
“Content – assuming it is honest and transparent – is the greatest sales tool in the world today.”
This is because, as Sheridan says, content never sleeps. There is no limit to the scope of people content can reach, or the amount of time it can be working. Even the best salesman in the world can’t make one million cold calls in a week, or work 24/7/365 with no days off.
But content does exactly this. By simply hitting publish on a blog post, you’re creating an opportunity to reach ten, twenty, thirty times the amount of prospective clients than if you hadn’t. Your content will continue working long after you’ve written it. It will exist not only as an eternal reflection of your brand, but as a constant funnel for prospective new clients who connect with what you say and how you say it.
When it comes to content marketing, it’s not necessarily about adding anything new to the conversation: it’s about being in the conversation.
To make sure you’re in the conversation, create a schedule of new content you’re putting out each month. This could be planned social media posts across your platforms by using a website like Sendible or Hootsuite or gradually building up a bank of blogs for your website and releasing a new one each week.
The key to marketing is consistency, so the more quality, scheduled content you’re getting out there, the more selling you can do.
Writing content benefits more than your business; it benefits you.
We’ve already discussed what content brings to your brand and your business. Taking the time to create your own content also has enormous benefits for you as a business owner and as a human being. In “They Ask, You Answer,” Sheridan says,
“By producing content, regardless of how many times ‘it has been said,’ we become better people, better employees, better sales professionals, and better communicators.”
Writing content is challenging. And I say this as a positive thing. It’s not “tear out your hair in frustration” challenging, it’s “I’m thinking more deeply about this subject than I ever thought possible” challenging. Writing content can make you a better:
- Business owner: You’re putting yourself in your client’s shoes. Writing content allows you to think carefully about the challenges they’re facing, what they most need help with, and how you can make things simpler and more enjoyable for them.
- Salesperson: Sales is not a dirty word! Everyone, in all professions, has to do a bit of saleswork, even if it’s just selling yourself. By writing content, you’re challenging yourself to find better ways to communicate concepts to your audience and thinking more deeply about what would help sell your brand.
- Accountant: Explaining something simply often requires an expert understanding. Writing accountancy content for someone who is not an accountant, and is unfamiliar with the terminology and rules, will challenge you to more deeply research subjects you thought you knew everything about. It’ll also motivate you to continue learning and growing as an accountant so you can find more ways to help your clients.
- Writer!: Writing content may be miles out of your comfort zone. The good news? That’s where growth happens. By challenging yourself with content writing, you’re gaining new skills and new perspectives on top of new clients for your firm.
Creating your own content can feel daunting, but it’s one of the most efficient ways to grow your firm and bring in your ideal clients. If you’re ready to create content (or create better content) with help from me and the rest of the PF team, sign up for our Accelerator to learn the 12 steps of content marketing! Part of Accelerator includes individual reviews on any content you create, to help coach you to be better as you write blog posts, record videos, or create other content for your clients.