If you’ve been tuning into this post series you’ve already seen our best practice advice for planning a content campaign, defining your topics and crafting a message.

This time we’re looking at how to execute, and cover the parts of execution that marketers stumble on the most.

We aren't going to cover how content should look, be structured or what form it should take. These we'll cover in the next post which looks at packaging your content for your channel and audience. Signup here to be notified when that post comes out.

In this post, we look at how to get useful insights for your audience.

Generate content that resonates

For a successful content campaign, you need useful, relevant content that positions your firm as the go-to provider.

To get content right you need to understand your audience, their challenges and the solutions to those challenges. In professional services, this is a difficult task for marketers. Audiences are diverse, with nuanced challenges, often leading to generic content that isn’t useful enough.

To overcome this problem, go straight to the source. Within your firm are consultants, lawyers, accountants or experts of some other kind that have both the understanding of client problems and the expertise of solutions for clients.

Your audience wants to hear from these Experts. Every year they are ranked as the most credible source of information by the pre-emminent B2B PR firm Edelman.

You have two routes to take getting content from experts. Marketing extracted content and expert-led content.

Marketing extracted content

This tactic relies on marketing teams to get the insights they need from the experts through questions, interviews or surveys. The most time-efficient way is the interview.

Interview your experts as if you were their clients, ask questions that your audience would have and record the answers. Specific questions are difficult for marketers that aren't subect matter experts but general questions asked the right way will get the content you want.

Those questions should be open and suggest a specific, useful answer rather than a generalisation. Some examples are:

  • What should firms in this market know moving into the next month/quarter/year?
  • What is the biggest problem your clients in this space are dealing with now and what is your advice to similar firms?
  • What are the savvy firms in your space doing now that others should learn from?
  • What is the biggest opportunity in your space right now for firms to gain an advantage or avoid risk?

Heres how to do it step by step:

  1. Book 30mins into the calendar of the top expert in your firm for the market you are targeting for expansion
  2. Ask them a few core questions about their industry - send these in advance and ask them to prepare short answers to each
  3. Record the answers over video and audio - that is your long-form content piece
  4. Break that long-form piece down into individual audio and video pieces for each question
  5. Transcribe these into blogs with video accompaniment. These are your mid-sized pieces
  6. Finally, take 5-10 concise clips of 1-2 mins each, these are your smallest insights

With an hour of planning, 30mins of expert time and another hour or so of editing you have over a dozen, highly relevant and useful content pieces that can be easily tailored to the delivery platform of your choice.

Empowering experts to produce insights

While marketing can extract content from experts, there are just too many markets, too many issues and too many fragmented audiences for marketing to take advantage of all the content opportunities at any one time.

By empowering the experts to produce insights you give them the ability to build their own brand as well as that of the firm and to grow their own client base. By decentralising content, you put the real expertise of your firm front and centre with a larger, more authentic and more powerful voice in the market.

Experts will not start writing content if you just ask them to. To drive authentic insights you need to accomplish three things:

  • Gain a senior advocate in the firm, ideally a sector head or managing partner
  • Remove all unnecessary barriers and uncertainty in the authoring process
  • Deliver regular, relevant feedback to the firm on the successes of the insights

A senior advocate lends the authority you need to make your project work. Writing insights is in the best interest of your experts but a senior advocate makes it evident what is expected for the best interest of the firm. Linking thought leadership to a wider goal the firm has such as growth in a particular market is another way to build the authority of your program.

Most firms have an awful process for publishing content. Approval committees, complex back and forths and unclear instructions for authors all put barriers between the expertise of your firm and your audience. Have a simple process that you regularly communicate with your experts and that is available for them to access themselves. Have a well-understood approval process with ideally a single person responsible for editing and approval of all content.

Marketers do not usually have the mandate to demand content from experts so insights must be encouraged with regular and timely feedback. Send a regular roundup of the results your content is generating, make it relevant and include the firms and the job titles of key people engaging with the content. This email works best if it comes from a senior advocate.

Both these techniques together are needed

Neither one of these techniques is right or wrong - the most successful firms combine these methods to great effect. Marketing extracted content fulfils the strategic need to expand key sectors whilst the expert generated insights provides that game-changing uplift across the board.

A great example of a firm mixing these perfectly is Howard Kennedy. James Kaufmann is a Partner there and an expert in investment funds. You can see him here in a short segment talking about the future for these funds, this is the marketing extracted content. 

But James also writes his own content, short, relevant pieces inspired by the issues of the moment for his clients. The Howard Kennedy content team, by empowering James and his peers have created a powerful undercurrent of expertise at the firm - freeing up time to extract those strategic insights.