My father used to say something that has stuck with me for many years. “Randy nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is wise advice from a man who did not finish high school and never spent a day in a college class-room.
In today’s digital world, professional service companies produce a lot of content. Many marketers believe that the goal of this content is to demonstrate expertise and achieve guru status. I don’t believe that at all. I think we use content to nurture people, to help them achieve the goals that matter most to them. If we do this consistently, we will never lack for great new clients.
If you put front and center the goals, opportunities and challenges of your ideal clients, then you will never lack for new client opportunities. This starts in the ideation process.
Ideation – the missing ingredient
When I read blog-posts today, watch videos, download e-books or peruse infographics, I cannot help but ask myself one key question. For whose benefit was this content created? More often than not, it seems to me that the content companies produce is primarily designed to benefit them. I think that’s backwards.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t benefit from producing content – and benefit in the one way that matters most to professional service firms, new clients. What I am saying is that if you make new client acquisition your primary goal, this will become very transparent to people who consume your content. Frankly, it’s a turn-off.
But if you put front and center the goals, opportunities and challenges of your ideal clients, then you will never lack for new client opportunities. This starts in the ideation process.
When I consult with new clients about their content marketing programs, I usually ask one important question to get things started. Where do your ideas come from? The answers vary widely, but nearly always they tie back to one key theme. Professional service firms tend to write about, well, their services.
I will once again repeat the mantra my father taught me. No one cares about your services until they understand how your services will benefit them. You literally cannot start with your services. You have to start with the goals, opportunities and challenges that give rise to the need for your services. You do this in the ideation phase, when brainstorming concepts about what content to produce.
How most professional service firms brainstorm
I have been a part of more brainstorming sessions than I can possibly recall. These sessions tend to bifurcate in one of two directions.
On one side of the room there are those people who believe lead nurturing should be about experts responding to and reflecting on the latest market trends and events. In this approach, the guru tells his or her audience what’s going on and what the guru thinks this means for the future of their industry.
On the other side of the room, there are those who want to promote that latest tips, tricks and techniques to get a quick hit-list of visitors. These folks want to publish fast and often and use strategies like gamification to “build a following.”
What’s wrong with these approaches?
The problem with both of these approaches is that they leave out the ideal client. The interests of the person who is supposed to consume the content are missing. The ideation process itself is flawed because it doesn’t start with the goals, opportunities and challenges of the ideal client.
But if you flip this around and start with what matters to your prospective clients, you’ll never lack for engagement or sales conversations. It’s also a very natural transition to bring up the services you want to provision – at the end of the process. How do you do this?
A better way
Gather your brightest minds in a room and ask them four questions for each service you offer:
- Who is the ideal client for this service?
- What goals are ideal clients trying to achieve with this service?
- What opportunities excite the ideal client about this service?
- What challenges prevent the ideal client from realizing their desired outcomes?
With this list in hand, you now have a bevy of ideas for your content pieces. Most importantly, they place the ideal client at the center and setup for a natural transition to your service offering.
Nurturing relationships today
Lead nurturing is akin to building a great friendship. When two new friends are just getting to know each other, the mutual exchange is critical. If a person only talks about themselves, what they think, what matters to them, that friendship is going nowhere. That seems mighty self-centered, doesn’t it?
But if they say – hey remember what we talked about last week, well I have some ideas for you – then the door is open for dialogue.
A free resource
To help you get started down this path, I have a free resource for you. It’s called 7 Steps To A Lead Nurturing Program That Keeps You In Front Of Prospects. It contains 7 videos and downloadable tools that you can use to build a better ideation process that really nurtures leads over time. It’s free and it’s available right now.