80/20 Content Marketing for Consultants

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This post is a guest post from Jake Jorgovan, founder of Content Allies and author of The Consultant’s Path to Thought Leadership.

“What’s the purpose of creating content?”

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a variety of answers.

Many would say content is all about increasing SEO and boosting your Google rankings.

Though this seems like a tangible goal of content, it’s only 20% of the equation.

If you can get to the top of Google rankings, that’s great, but it’s more of a long term pursuit than a short term way to generate growth and authority for your business.

So what’s the purpose of the other 80% of your content creation efforts?

Through this article, we will explore why the real power of your content is in its ability to build trust, accelerate word of mouth referrals, educate, and open possibilities to “land and expand” into new client accounts.

SEO Is a Small Part of Your Content Creation Efforts

It’s easy to fall into the misconception that SEO is the key agenda for creating content.

There’s a lot of talk about using content for SEO purposes and it’s a selling point for many content agencies.

This is because it’s easy to talk about and it’s an obvious way that content can produce benefits.

It’s the low hanging fruit that is understandable and measurable.

For example, saying that your content is going to get you on page one of Google feels more tangible than saying your content is going to build trust with your prospects.

The truth of the matter is, depending on the industry you’re in, making it to the top of Google rankings can be near impossible. And even if you get to the front page, that process will take a fair amount of time.

If that’s your only goal with creating content, it will seem like your efforts failed or aren’t worth while.

You have to use your content in ways that generate value in-between the time it takes for your content to actually see SEO results.

And the short term results of your content is where the true value is.

Start Your Content Creation Efforts With a Cornerstone Piece

Writing a pillar piece of content or an all-encompassing guide is an effective way to highlight your expertise.

This gives you the chance to go very in depth on a topic that is valuable for your audience and can be used in a variety of ways.

You can send it to your prospects between sales calls or use it to nurture someone during the sales process.

This is a great way to build trust and credibility with a prospect while they are deciding whether or not to work with you.

When you’re providing this value for free, you increase your chances of closing those deals.

It shows that you’re knowledgeable and actually care about helping the prospect whether you work with them or not.

An example of cornerstone content leading to more business is my e-book, The Consultant’s Path to Thought Leadership.

Once I published this piece, my leads immediately increased.

I got calls from people within a month who I’ve never talked to and who had already read the entire book.

Here’s an example of a conversation that took place because of this cornerstone piece of content.

As stated before, most of these leads were completely cold. But the in-depth knowledge that was shared resonated with these prospects.

They gained value and wanted to work with someone who showed a high level understanding of thought leadership.

Now that you know where to start with your content creation, let’s take a deeper look at the major benefits gained by sharing it.

Content Builds Trust and Helps Consultants Convert Better

A lack of content can be the silent killer of deals that people never realize or understand until they start creating content.

It’s a subtle thing because it’s not like anyone says, “Oh, you don’t have content, I don’t trust you or I’m not going to buy from you.”

They just stop responding to your outreach efforts or lose interest because they can’t research your expertise or the value you bring.

And so potential deals go cold without you even being aware of why.

You don’t want your prospects to search you out only to find a shell of a website.

When you have content and a good online presence, your prospects can actually get familiar with your expertise and your level of credibility.

It’s a trust building thing.

The more a prospect can relate to your ideas, the more likely they are to trust you.

And creating content is how you share those ideas.

A great example of content building trust comes from Dan Kelly, Founder of The Negotiator Guru.

Dan and I worked together to start sharing in depth articles about his expertise with customers, and he saw an uptick in not only leads but also won over more deals as a result.

Here is Dan’s response to the impact content creation had on his business:

“That article you wrote has generated over $500k in sales over the past year. That doesn’t even include the value the article provided in building trust with customers who came through other channels. This is hands down the biggest win I have had in marketing to date.”

His content was the catalyst needed to build trust and win those deals.

Furthermore, Dan started seeing results from his content within weeks of sharing.

An impressive rate compared to waiting 6-12 months for SEO results.

Content Accelerates Word of Mouth Referrals

For consultants, word of mouth referrals are the go-to source for new business.

And your network is your most valuable asset outside of your expertise.

Which is why it’s so important to stay top of mind for the people within your network in regards to your expertise. When people consistently see your content, they will be more likely to refer you.

With an established network, it’s relatively easy to share your content with all the people you already know.

Some may hire you or some will keep you in mind as someone who works and writes in a specific field. Both of which are helpful.

When you put your knowledge out in the open and someone has a need, they know to go to you.

The less effective approach is going to networking events where you don’t even know if the attendees care about your services. It’s just not as genuine and valuable.

Content Can Educate and Indoctrinate Someone Into Your Point of View

As a consultant, you don’t just get hired for what you do, you get hired because you have a unique point of view and approach to your work.

But a lot of times, this point of view isn’t clearly understood by your potential prospects.

For this reason, consultants usually don’t lose business to other consultants, they lose business because prospects don’t believe their work is going to be valuable to them.

Creating content is the way to showcase your value and help a prospect understand the complexity of the problem they are trying to solve.

It’s extremely hard to convince someone of a problem that they don’t see themselves. And trying to talk about it just at a high level doesn’t go deep enough to persuade the prospect.

That’s why creating super in depth content is essential to win more business.

Give away more than you feel comfortable with, and your prospects will be able to see your expertise as it relates to their problems.

A lot of people think things are really simple until they get in the weeds. And your content will serve as the needed education for people to realize they need your help.

Here, again, Dan Kelly serves as a great example of using content as an education tool.

Initially people didn’t understand the value that Dan Kelly could bring to their business.

But once he put together his cornerstone piece of content and his prospects read it, they realized that their problem was way bigger and more complex than they ever thought.

And the value he could bring to them in relation to their problems was much greater than they expected.

Content Can “Land and Expand” Your Business

When you get hired by a company for a specific project, that project gets you in the door with the company.

But once you get in, you have the opportunity to “land and expand” into different accounts.

Meaning, you might have been hired to perform a specific task, but then you realize your expertise can help in other problematic areas of the company.

In many cases, the company might not even realize they need this additional help.

This is a great opportunity to create content that helps them realize where their business is lacking and show them how your expertise can help them improve their business.

Actionable Tip: Take a look at your current customer base and think about what other services you could offer them or other departments you’d like to get into. Then, think about content pieces you could write in order to educate them and support them in that specific area. This is “land and expand” in action.

Create Valuable Content and Share It With the World

Through this exploration, I hope it’s been made clear how beneficial and necessary content creation is for your business.

Yes, content can help with SEO, but that’s not the end goal.

You can boost SEO by answering your customers’ ongoing questions and presenting opinion pieces not related to sales, but this isn’t where your main focus should be.

Start with an in depth piece of cornerstone content that highlights your expertise and share it.

Your content will serve as a tool to support you in building trust, accelerating word of mouth referrals, educating your audience, and closing more deals.

This is the real power of content creation.