Tag Archives: content writing for business

Thought leadership’s importance to management consulting growth

In a recent Forbes article, Russ Alan Prince details how competitive pressures among management consultants has made thought leadership an effective way to secure new clients.

And Braden Kelly explained in a recent article how these competitive pressures are as a result of an abundance of information online.  This abundant online information has created a buyers market for management consulting services. Buyers of management consulting services, he writes, are now seeking out thought leadership to inform their buying decisions.

Russ Allen Prince highlighted how McKinsey & Co pioneered industry thought leadership with McKinsey Quartely, a highly successful journal “replete with descriptions of the firm’s successes”.  The Management Consultancies Association (MCA), the representative body for management consultancy firms in the UK, showcased other leading examples of leading industry thought leadership from firms including PwC, KPMG and Deloitte — at their 2016 MCA Awards.

Challenges to thought leadership development

Braden Kelly detailed how “consulting firms are struggling to identify and provide the content necessary to help them maintain (and possibly extend) their success in this new [competitive] environment.”

Firms are struggling, according to Kelly, because they “tend to under-invest in thought leadership and as a consequence…find themselves vulnerable to new entrants.”

Thought leadership is often not the primary focus inside some consultancies.  Firm partners, focused first on new revenue generation — have limited time for thought leadership, particularly novel initiatives that support “expansionary growth” Kelly explained.  This lack of focus can keep firms treading water or losing ground on new business generation via a sustained thought leadership campaign.

Another challenge to thought leadership development is the importance of social media visibility — in addition to excellent thought leadership content creation.

Looking forward

Well-developed thought leadership can support successful new business generation efforts by management consulting firms, according to Kelly.  But these efforts require a commitment of time and resources to realize their full potential.  

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Essentials of Content Marketing #3: An editorial calendar

While many business have turned to content marketing as a means to attract new clients or customers — some have not adopted one of the most essential elements of these efforts — an editorial calendar.

As Sydney Rayl of Turn the Page Online Marketing explains — successful content marketing “means building a loyal following that trusts your brand for quality content and provides you with repeat business”.  Vitally, as Rayl also explains, “the key to achieving a successful content marketing strategy is to consistently [produce] high-quality content that is focused on what you’re audiences wants to see”.  And the best way to do this, Rayl notes, is by adopting and committing to utilize an editorial calendar.  Garrett Moon of CoSchedule Blog puts it a bit differently:  He explains that “the number on way to get traffic to [a] blog is through the very habits than an editorial calendar [helps] develop:  organization.

A consistent, well-planned strategy is required for content marketing success

As Garrett Moon explains in more depth — content marketing “requires a lot of strategy to be successful”.  While understanding your audience is central to strategy — an editorial calendar is just as important from an implementation standpoint.  Without it — you won’t be producing consistent, thoughtful content that attracts a growing audience.   In addition to helping you plan out consistent posts — and editorial calendar permits you to more easily alternate between topics, track writing and editing assignments, new ideas and deadlines.

As Moon argues, a written editorial calendar also helps to keep a content marketing team accountable — helping to make “each individual more likely to deliver high-quality, relevant content consistently over time.”  That consistency, Moon explains, is vital to building a larger following.

The basic components of an editorial calendar

Creme Blog contains an excellent example of an editorial calendar.  Writing for Creme, Tabita explains how to create an editorial calendar.  Here’s what Creme details:

  • Make a list of topics that will be of interest to your readers.
  • Set the number of articles you’d like to publish on a weekly basis.
  • Determine what type of content you’d like to publish — whether it’s written articles, videos, podcasts, pictures, graphics or others.
  • Set dates certain for producing and publishing each piece of content.
  • Determine which channels you’ll utilize to promote the content: Facebook? Twitter?, etc.
  • Utilize a digital, shareable calendar for dispersed teams and easier collaboration.

Discipline will yield better results

Among the greatest challenges to producing regular, high-quality content that address the needs of your key audiences — is consistency.  An editorial calendar will go a long way to creating a disciplined and hence more successful — content marketing strategy.

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Companies that publish are growing at “breakneck speed”

Companies that publish are growing at “breakneck speed”, according to Neil Patel, in a recent article in Inc.  

As Patel detailed: “Companies that defy expectations, disrupt industries, and forge an indelible presence” are achieving that growth.  These companies, he added, are also solving big problems, doing good — and doing content marketing better.

Patel cited Buzzfeed and BufferApp — which have both grown enormous online audiences as a result of producing and publishing useful information tailored to the interests of their readers. Another standout in online news — Business Insider — was purchased last year for $442 Million dollars – $200 Million more than what the Washington Post sold for in 2013.  

Content marketing – A modern marketing must-have

“Content marketing is a modern marketing must-have” Patel explains —  but for companies to do it right – they must “create value (in content form) for the right people to see”.  As [customers and potential clients]…engage with this content, it brings them closer to a conversion”.  And these conversations lead to more client engagements.

While your company may not be able to achieve the success of Buzzfeed, Business Insider or BufferApp,  you can – as Patel explains, “grow your content, improve your traffic, and deliver the information that your audience wants.”

Social Media Engagement is key to maximizing content marketing efforts

While content marketing has become a must-have for businesses.  Publishing on a company blog or on LinkedIn — isn’t enough in today’s modern social-media driven environment.  Social media promotion of that content is also essential.  A case in point is the Washington Post,  which recently surpassed the New York Times in online traffic via a strategy that includes increased social media engagement.  Notably, Neal Schaffer has detailed 11 ways to use social media to promote content.

While successful online content and social publishing may seem a daunting challenge to emulate – keep in mind they are examples whose best use is to serve as a constant source of inspiration for your own — albeit less extensive efforts —  to generate a larger client base in your unique niche.

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Why it’s important for professional services firms to develop thought leadership

Companies are turning to online sources of information when seeking to be educated buyers of consulting services, according to an article by Braden Kelley.  It is vital, therefore, as Mark Clemente details, for firms to seek to maintain a sophisticated online presence.

Power has shifted to the buyers of professional services

The reasons for this, as Kelley detailed, are rooted in how the internet has changed the relationship between professional services firms and their corporate clients.  He explains that in the past — information “was scarce and external knowledge was valued by the client.”  But now as information is so readily available — corporate buyers of professional services are – via their own research — amassing data and information once held by their professional advisors.

Companies have, therefore, “become less open to being sold consulting services and instead more focused on becoming buyers of consulting services”.

Thought leadership requires commitment and discipline

But as Kelley details — professional services firms are “struggling to identify and provide the content necessary to help them maintain (and possibly extend) their success in this new environment.”  He argues that professional services firm tend to under-invest in thought leadership and consequently become vulnerable to competitors who do — missing out, therefore, on the revenue that would have resulted had that thought leadership been cultivated.

He argues that the value of thought leadership and those capable of creating it and facilitating the execution of a content marketing strategy — cannot be underestimated.  And specifically — to do it well — as Carter Hostelley details — “treat your blog like it’s important” – “think like a publisher” – “make it about your target audience” – “blog often but keep quality high” — and “get other experts to contribute”.

Sophisticated thought leadership distinguishes professional services firms

With this information in mind, professional services firms can seek to distinguish themselves in a crowded marketplace of competitors by a commitment to carefully cultivating the best thought leadership posture they can.

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Why great writing is vital to professional services success

“A professional services firm’s articles, proposals, presentations, studies, brochures, and books are the physical embodiments of its expertise.  In effect, for professional services firms, their words are their products, and it’s critical for them to exhibit great writing”, according to an article by Alterra Group.

Superior writing distinguishes firms from competitors

But as Alterra outlined, professional services firms often don’t pay enough attention to the writing process and therefore discover this oversight can damage their sales and marketing efforts –“because it gives clients and prospects the impression…the firm’s ideas are equally low in quality.”  Bad writing — simply put — makes “it difficult for prospective clients to see…quality”.

Clear writing makes buying decisions easier

Clients are helped in making purchasing decisions when professional services firms express ideas and expertise clearly. This helps executives understand the depth, complexity, relevance and value of a professional services firms expertise.

What’s the downside to poor writing?

Bad writing, Alterra details, “incurs real costs”.  Poorly written newsletters and white papers “go unread by executives”.  Poor “conference and sales presentations yield few if any leads”.
“Big investments in ‘thought leadership’…’decline quickly’ when..poorly researched and written”.

Industry media, existing and potential clients — and industry thought leaders who might be inclined to cite and hence, amplify a professional services firms message — will ignore poorly written materials.

The value of writing persuasively for discerning audiences

Many professional services firms do generate well-written works.  Alterra cited McKinsey & Co, who employ a “cadre of top-notch writers” to produce…McKinsey Quarterly and other publications.  “McKinsey recognizes what one supply chain management consultancy quantified: that excellent writing is a key aspect of business generation”.

How to achieve success in professional services writing

Ralph Grayden of Antelope Media details a few ways to achieve superior results in professional services writing, including retaining and trusting excellent writers with subject matter knowledge, ensuring client interests guide topic selection, avoiding excessive industry jargon – and last but not least — brevity.

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White Papers: A top tactic for B2B lead-generation

Content marketing comes in a variety of forms.  Notably, however, white papers and sponsored emails are the “two top tactics for B2B lead-generation”, according to a Business.com report published in 2013, which Matt McGee (@mattmcgee) detailed in MarketingLand.com.  Of those surveyed, more than 50 percent said white papers are a “valuable” or “extremely valuable” source of new business leads.

What are White Papers?

As Lindsay Kolowich (@lkolo25) explains in HubSpot: “A whitepaper is a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report [of no fewer than 6 pages] on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution.  Marketers create whitepapers to educate their audience about a particular issue or explain and promote a particular methodology. They’re advanced problem-solving guides.”

White Papers provide quality for content marketing campaigns

As Angela Stringfellow explained in AmericanExpress Open Forum, white papers are prime examples of the type of quality content that is most rewarded by Google’s new algorithm updates.  These algorithms, Stringfellow explains, “punish sites with low-quality content”.  And vitally, she notes: “You can’t use content designed solely for search anymore. You must provide value—and value comes in the form of content that resonates with your target consumer.” [emphasis added]

White Papers are more socially shareable and win more new clients

“Thought leaders…” explained Stringfellow, “[produce] white papers regularly as they are a valuable educational resource, [are] useful for “warming up prospects”, and are an excellent tool “to reach out to a prospect you’re hoping to land as a client”.

She also notes that white papers “provide share-worthy social media content. And since Social users tend to follow businesses that share insightful, engaging and relevant content… [white papers will] provide value to your network and generate more connections for your business.”

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