Ever feel like this?
“I am pounding my head on the desk in 3, 2, 1, and…”
Angie didn’t actually say that. But I could tell she wanted to.
Angie is a busy senior executive at a professional services company with offices nation-wide. She faithfully updates her blog with what she thinks is helpful advice, but she’s starting to resent the time because she’s pretty sure no one is reading it.
It’s hard for execs running content programs too:
Jeff is in charge of content for the firm, and the lack of buy-in from other executives is literally keeping him up at night.
He knows the firm has to be digitally active. Potential clients are searching for service providers just like his firm.
What he’s not sure of is how to get his content — or his executives — to perform better.
So you’re not alone:
Somewhere around 70 per cent of B2B content is being ignored.
As the person in charge, what can you do?
As it is in most things in life, the first step is recognizing you have a problem. And that might mean getting off the treadmill of content marketing production long enough to re-evaluate your strategy.
If you can’t do that, you might need to bring someone in to help you do that, starting with a content audit.
It all starts with strategy:
If you don’t have a content marketing strategy, now is a very good time to develop one. If you do have one, it’s time to acknowledge that something in it isn’t working and be willing to drill down in it to find out what that is.
Protecting your existing strategy will cost you everything. And sooner rather than later.
Lots of people get personas all wrong:
If your team is not writing to personas, it is very unlikely you will be able to get your content back on track.
So while you are evaluating your strategy, you want to pay particular attention to your personas.
A persona is not a profile:
The more consideration goes into purchasing your product or services, the more insight your personas need to offer. And what most people call personas aren’t actually personas.
They’re actually profiles filled with all kinds of demographic information that gets in the way of understanding the actual decision. You need insight into the decision, not whether or not she has a cat and likes to ski.
Feed your sales funnel:
You also need to look more closely at the sales funnel and what types of content should roll out in what way, in what order and at what time.
Content is never about one piece. It is always a series of related materials that fit thematically with each other.
Personas also help with something a lot of brands struggle with, particularly those in the professional services: connection.
Lawyers, doctors, accountants and other professionals have the terrible habit of writing like robots.
Really uninteresting robots.
And yes, of course, there are times when you need to spout legalese or accountanese or scribble illegible things on a scrip pad. But more often than not, people are actually looking for someone to take a complicated idea and make it simple for them.
Even really smart people. Maybe even especially really smart people.
How trust works:
People trust what they don’t have to think about. When something seems obvious and apparent, they believe it.
But most professional firms do exactly the opposite. And they end up creating content so dense, so dry, so soul-destroyingly void of any personality, it forces your target audience to twist their brains in ways that leave them tired and uninspired.
It may give them the information they need, but it doesn’t give them any real insight and it certainly doesn’t give them the opportunity to sell themselves on you.
Personas + human = winning combo:
Personas help you write to an actual person in a voice that you would use with them if they were in the room.
Writing on the web to no one in particular gives rise to a kind of vagueness that ends up speaking to no one.
Now let’s say you’re Angie:
The best thing you can do to help yourself, Jeff and the whole of the firm is to get up close and personal with the strategy.
Get your hands on those personas:
You need to know who you are writing for and what type of content will help move different prospects and clients through what stage of the sales funnel. Without that, you will keep banging your head on hard objects.
Learn to read Google Analytics:
If you do not know how to read a Google Analytics report, you need to learn. It’s pretty intuitive once someone walks you through it.
And don’t hesitate to ask Jeff to show you because it’s in your best interests and those of the firm if you understand how your content is being measured.
And it sure beats a banged up forehead.