For many accounting firms, the buying lifecycle can often take months, if not years. To reach your final destination (the sale), it is critical to develop your content strategy so that neither you nor your prospects get lost along the way. The following five content strategies drive engagement through each stage of the buying lifecycle. Keep them in mind as you map out your content strategy and create an editorial calendar:
1 – Thought Leadership
Technology has fundamentally changed how we make decisions. We communicate digitally via web and mobile applications more frequently than face to face. We seek information that is important to us on our own terms and rely on peers and community input when making decisions. More than ever, prospects do their own research online, actively seeking new problem-solving ideas and thought leaders for guidance and advice. When you consistently demonstrate your expertise and your willingness to inform your readers on issues that affect them, you inherently gain respect, trust and loyalty. Become a thought leader. Provide solutions BEFORE a need arises. Differentiate yourself. Don’t be afraid to lend “free” thought leadership. If your competitors don’t answer prospects’ questions and you do, you will stand out as a trusted resource.
2 – Value
Buyers seek solutions that can help them do more with less, deliver faster return and payback, provide high ROI and realize superior value versus other solutions. Offering exclusive contests, discounts and deals are popular ways to connect with buyers who seek a bargain from every purchase. But price is not all that matters, so help economically-focused buyers discover the best solution by promoting content that validates potential benefits to them. Value is perceived as helpfulness, entertainment and/or emotional impact. Incorporate those elements, and you will provide value. Value isn’t always just about money!
3 – Credibility
Many prospects are engaging in sales later than ever, relying on a firm’s online profile and digital communications to connect, engage and evaluate. Trust must now be earned through your messaging versus looking someone directly in the eyes. Making a personal connection and remaining digitally accessible with readers, followers and contacts is vital. Content with a personal feel (versus a corporate tone) tends to be the most popular. Listening and responding sincerely will earn you credibility. Build credibility through relevant, consistent messages full of information and value. Credibility is a critical component of effective content.
4 – Personalization
Focus on your prospect. Content marketing isn’t about broadcasting, but rather about creating a collaborative dialogue with your prospects, clients, followers and connections. Speak to each of your various prospect types using their own language and addressing their specific needs. The marketers that appear most successful are leveraging the right content at the right time to connect on a personal level and move the buying cycle forward.
5 – Entertainment
Entertaining content is playing a larger role than ever in attracting attention and driving popularity. Entertaining yet thought-provoking videos, animations, infographics and cartoons are being successfully used to gain followers, fans and connections and build a bond with consumers. Be amusing when appropriate in your messaging. Don’t underestimate the value of a suitable laugh now and then.