Consultants in the DACH region are currently doing well-self-employment as management consultants is appealing. A key topic – also when founding a consulting startup – is marketing. The basic problem: How do I win, convert and maintain customer contacts?
Most consultants offer services that require a particularly high level of trust on the part of the customer. In addition, many consulting firms offer almost interchangeable services – i.e. very similar products that, from the perspective of potential customers, appear redundant without additional delimitation. The competition – also for media attention for the purpose of clear positioning and increasing brand awareness – is increasing. As a rule, the large consulting firms have developed a budget and “selection advantage” over independent, small and medium-sized consultants.
These framework conditions require confidence-building measures, a clear positioning in competition, the systematic development of a personal network of interested parties and a sustainable reputation building. It is precisely against this background that qualified content marketing is steadily gaining importance and popularity. But how can you specifically improve customer acquisition through content marketing? (…)
Read this guide about content marketing:
Why Content Marketing?
The significance of a good approach to content marketing: I became aware early on during my consulting work in Vienna – as a specialized consultant for health tourism, I was responsible for realizing media attention for “my topic” and for positioning my former employer as an expert company in this area. The basis for the specialist articles and press releases were, among other things, studies that we carried out in cooperation with companies or associations and internally, as well as anonymized case studies from projects, etc. the bandages. That this approach worked well showed publication-related feedback and telephone inquiries from potential and existing customers and specialist organizers – such as “The analyzes and potential solutions in your article are of great interest to me in the context of my real estate project development – when can we explore opportunities for cooperation?” That sounds easy at first, but it required a long-term and strategic investment of time, the willingness to share knowledge and the pursuit of a systematic content marketing concept. In addition, there is and was a great risk of achieving exactly the opposite of what one is actually striving for through content that is incorrect or of poor quality or inappropriate measures. Systematic planning and quality control are critical to success.
In order for you to succeed in good content marketing, I recommend adhering to the following 10 pieces of advice.
Advice 1: Approach to solving real customer problems, top quality, no advertising text
When was the last time you spoke to your customers and prospects and asked them what problems and challenges they were currently facing? Check your services for market conformity and attractiveness in comparison to the competition. Listen carefully to what is really interesting for your potential customers. Provide initial answers and possible solutions, for example in the form of a case study or a thematically appropriate customer story.
“I’m the best start-up consultant in the world.”
Pure advertising copy, self-praise and self-glorifying product descriptions are out. The following rule applies: Proven quality beats quantity – it is better to publish the best contribution on a topic than to constantly disseminate small, unhelpful parts of the knowledge that may also be very advertising-heavy. The quality of the content and preparation determine your publication success and reputation building. A lack of legal conformity, errors in spelling and grammar can lead your readers to draw conclusions about the author’s lack of care or knowledge. You should also make the final editing easier for webmasters and editors. Your reputation stands and falls with proofreading. Ideally, you should involve a second person.
Advice 2: Content with a specific problem-related reference, specialist information for the region
A basic question in SEO ( search engine optimization ) is: “What would a potential consulting customer type into the search engine if he was looking for a solution to his problem?” Analyze the frequency and relevance of search queries in your subject area – you can use Google Keyword Planner for free.
In the consulting area, a regional focus of the content often makes sense – the start-up consultant should not necessarily be at the other end of the country.
And don’t overdo it with keywords and search engine optimization – the search engine algorithm writers are smart and punish those “who want it too badly”. Maintaining a natural spelling, using synonyms, providing the articles with a good structure but not overloading them with keywords is more promising here.
Advice 3: focus, focus, focus – complexity down, language of the customer
Don’t get bogged down. Self-employed people and consultants share a common passion: They like to talk and write in a complex way about their business and preferably in a consulting session – unfortunately they often forget the actual problems of their customers. You think and write as an expert on your quite complex topic – this often leads – as my editorial experience shows – to the fact that the generated content is too broad and diluted in terms of content. This makes it difficult for the person seeking advice, but also for the search engines, to recognize a clear problem-solution relationship in your article. In other words – it loses value due to the lack of focus on one or a few specific problem areas and solutions.
A similar effect can be observed when an article is written in a jargon that is incomprehensible to those seeking advice.
Example – “Passing each other”
Expert writes 10 pages about “digital ways to optimize accounting in the cloud”, the “great API for sales tax transfer in the intelligent client network”, “the associated CRM system and tool for fast retargeting” … “. Customer searches Google for ” accounting software , easy to use, with customer directory”
Advice 4: Build tension – tell good stories with long-term value
In order to build tension – e.g. with teaser texts – content marketers usually use a classic “cliff hanger”, a content component that helps to increase the readership’s curiosity to such an extent that they want to read the entire article – e.g. “strategies of the most profitable Consulting houses – How is money made with consulting? “Or” 10 mistakes that you should absolutely avoid. “Or” Why you are unsuccessful. “
For consulting companies, it will usually make sense to focus on a specific customer problem and verbally emphasize the most urgent questions and fears of those seeking advice again, with the note that a (partial) solution is offered in the article – for example, “Caution Tax office! Paying sales tax is a regular task for businesses. In this article you can read about the amount of sales from which you have to pay the VAT and whether it makes sense to apply the small business regulation for you.
Talented salespeople, but also regularly your customers, are often very good storytellers – “The introduction of the agile management tools at your competitor C brought considerable efficiency advantages. Even the employees, who were among the greatest carers at the beginning, were very enthusiastic in the end. The close support of the employees by our IT experts was particularly successful. However, the most important component of success was… ”. Ideally, you will gain statements from testimonials (brand ambassadors) and reference stories from real customers about your services.
When choosing stories, it makes sense to focus on topics with a long half-life so that a story – e.g. about a successful transfer of knowledge in the context of a consultation – still has the potential to interest new readers and potential customers even after months or years.
Advice 5: A picture says more than…
Pure text material is good, but it is better to add images, illustrations, complex infographics and videos. The visual, compressed, minimal perceptibility is increased by professionally created graphics and videos – a plus in our fast-moving information society. Give the media content (images, videos, etc.) appropriate titles for the relevant keywords and embed them in your texts. Include source references with suitable picture titles and your URL.
Advice 6: create teams of authors
A team of authors knows and usually achieves more than a lone warrior. With successful cooperation, you save time for content generation, reduce the amount of disclosed knowledge of the individual and at the same time increase the quality of the content through knowledge networking and mutual feedback. Viral effects and higher readership can be achieved more easily if a team of authors arouses interest in joint contributions.
Advice 7: Avoid duplicate content, distribute it with multimedia
Search engines, publishers and editorial offices of large newspapers and magazines prefer content that is “unique” – that is, it does not appear twice on the internet / on the newspaper and book market. If you want to distribute your content in several places, it is advisable to create different variants (so-called “spun” versions) with, for example, adapted titles and subtitles with the same meaning, synonymous terms, language versions, varying authors (sometimes you, sometimes your colleague, or your boss), etc. Publish your content in various formats: as a blog post, theme website, as an e-newsletter, as a customer magazine in print or PDF, as Google+ post, as a video on YouTube, as a book on Amazon, as an infographic on Facebook, Twitter, as a group post on Xing or Linkedin, as a podcast or presentation on SlideShare, …“Traffic building waypost system” that leads from different locations to your expert presence (or landing page).
Advice 8: Increase dissemination / provide consideration for publication
Bloggers, publishers and editors are always interested in exciting, exclusive content. If you cannot or do not want to offer exclusive rights to your content, you should think about other incentives that you can offer the potential media partner – such as a backlink from your website to “Cooperation partner XY”, a free advertising banner in your customer magazine, payment of an editing fee , corresponding publishing fees for print productions or the granting of a special discount for customers or employees of the media partner, blogger, etc.
Advice 9: Enable feedback and “sharing”, incorporate a call to action
Solicit feedback from your readers – allow comments to learn from them and generate contacts. Use “share” buttons and RSS feeds on your website to disseminate and value your content on social media, other blogs and business networks. Publish under a Creative Commons license and allow the republication of your content by third parties if your name / company is mentioned as the source with a backlink.
Ask questions to readers, encourage discussion of the article. Include a “Call to Action” for all those who are interested in the article – invite the readers, for example, to a thematically appropriate (online) event or personal brainstorming sessions.
Offer them a thematically appropriate e-newsletter. Generate leads.
Advice 10: Integrate contact / company data
It must be transparent for the addressees, readers and editors who produced the content and which contact person should be contacted for the respective topic. Anonymized contact options such as forms, as used on numerous websites, significantly reduce the likelihood of contact being made. It is better to store an encrypted email address and a personal contact person with a full company address, telephone number and backlink to the company. Contact and company data should be clearly visible and separated from the specialist content next to or below the article.
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Conclusion – those seeking advice love content marketing
All in all: “Quality content is the favorite of those seeking advice!”
Avoid loud market screams. Instead of cold acquisition, you can build up your content marketing step by step in order to generate lasting trust in your consulting and solution skills as well as qualified leads and to learn more about the real needs of your customers from feedback on the content. Give your customers and those seeking advice the chance to first find out anonymously something about you and your performance skills, 24/7 365 days a year.
Good content marketing per se can be achieved by any qualified expert. In order to stand out from the crowd, you should be active on a regular basis, but always attach more importance to quality than quantity of content – regardless of whether you invest in online or print media.
Pay attention to a strict customer and demand orientation in order to get the maximum benefit from the content marketing measures. Rely on your special topics instead of dealing with broad and general topics. Define yourself clearly and play on your niche!