“The professional services market is in a period of radical transformation and firms need to more confidently assert their position in it. Providing the right content to the right client at the right time is obviously a great way to do that” believes Stephen Fitzmaurice, marketing manager at Clifford Chance.
But most briefings, newsletters and even research reports from professional services firms are now so similar that clients barely know which firm they come from. To differentiate, firms need to focus on the ‘sweet spot’ that connects what they want with what their clients want.
What you want
Start with the bigger picture – the firm’s strategic priorities and how marketing can best be aligned to meet them. It may help to look at your structure, objectives and goals as dispassionately as an outsider would.
No firm can be all things to all clients. Question accepted assumptions such as ‘we provide everything that a client might need’. Instead, choose your battles and think about the specific areas that you would like the firm to be famous for, and align your resources accordingly.
Even the seemingly endless resources of the largest firms are channelled into specific areas where they perceive a potential edge over the competition, such as M&A, large and complex deals or particular sectors. That’s not to say they ignore other services, they merely prioritise where they can make a real difference.
What your clients want
Clients can be a sophisticated and demanding audience – they will not respond to yet another press release about partner hires, latest deals or office moves, no matter how high it appears on the search engine rankings.
To engage with them you need to get under their skin and identify the issues they are genuinely struggling with. Then help them to overcome them. Only then will you able to communicate your marketing messages and position yourself as a strategic partner.
Forget the figures for now: this is not a numbers game. Respecting the reader is paramount, a practice long established by professional publishing firms, yet often forgotten in the publishing of professional services firms.
The sweet spot in the middle
For firms that get it right the benefits are almost endless. The McKinsey Quarterly and Harvard Business Review are excellent examples of content marketing that has reached heights way beyond the original remit, giving their originators an almost sacred status.
Both publications and their corresponding websites share the best principles of content marketing, hitting the sweet spot between what they want and what their readers want. They are educational in the word’s broadest sense, and yet are still very effective promotional tools for the firms that create them.
There is no reason why your firm cannot be next. Find out how with our guide to content marketing strategy for professional services firms.