Hello there, this is Danilo. Following the request of 17 consultancy partners, today's topic is content marketing.

Small reminder: We just published the dates and topics of the remaining group workshops for this year. These are specialized, hands-on half-day engagements that help you level up your practice - and they all include individual follow-up calls for you to get implementation support too. You can check the calendar here.

Wish you a great reading.

One Idea

Content marketing is no longer a buzzword; it's a necessity. In the digital age, it has become a cornerstone of every marketing strategy for professional service firms. But why is it so important, and what do most agencies and marketing professionals fail to disclose to consultancy founders?

It’s not difficult to understand the power of content. It’s digital. Scalable. It allows you to share ideas with anyone, anywhere, at any time.

This makes it arguably the most important tool for your trust-building initiatives. Content helps you educate and inform your audience, challenge them, create interest in your work and expertise. It's a crucial part of your client purchase path or the typical journey your audience follows from knowing your name to engaging in work-oriented conversations.

But it’s also worth noticing that, for advisory-focused businesses, content marketing isn't just a marketing tool. It's a catalyst for growth and innovation:

  • It forces you to articulate, package, and polish your thinking for easy consumption, refining your firm's IP over time.
  • As you publish your insights, you create visibility and engagement - it sparks new connections and conversations with those who deem such content relevant.
  • The feedback you receive from the market not only leads to new insights but allows you to stop guessing and inform your strategy on what resonates and what doesn’t.

Over time, this often benefits your brand, positioning, and pricing strength.

Sounds like a win-win situation, right? But whenever something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Something’s got to give.

Where's the catch? Here’s my list of seven challenges you will rarely find mentioned by those who benefit from selling you content marketing support.

First, content marketing is a time-consuming, resource-intensive process. The time you spend creating and refining content could be spent on other activities that directly generate revenue. Trade-offs must be explored.

Second, while producing content regularly can increase engagement, it is not a given. This often happens because “the quality” of content (which, by the way, is not simple to measure) is sacrificed for quantity. Poorly produced content can harm your reputation more than it can help.

Third, it’s every partner’s problem: Being a subject matter expert in a field doesn't necessarily mean you can effectively communicate that expertise. You may have deep experience and many lessons to share but struggle to package it into easily consumable content. Actually creating good content may require new skills and capabilities.

Fourth, even when the content is good, visibility and engagement don't come automatically after you hit the “publish” button. You need a strategic approach to promotion and distribution. Can you guess why content marketers avoid getting too much into this? Because it’s damn hard to do a great job if you don't have unlimited budget.

Fifth is differentiation - how will you stand out when there’s a sea of content competing for your audience’s attention? This is exacerbated, of course, by the rise of AI tools like ChatGPT that can create high-level, semi-helpful content quickly and for free. You need to ditch the generic and push for the specific, insightful, and personal instead.

Sixth, measuring the success of content marketing can be a frustrating exercise. Yes, it does generate leads. But it's often difficult to measure its direct impact on pipeline and sales.

Finally, content marketing is a long-term strategy. It takes time to see results, and not all firms may be willing or able to invest in a strategy that does not provide immediate returns. Are you ready to put time, money, and energy for 6, 9, 12 months without any guarantee of concrete ROI?

Other consultancies have grown on the back of a content engine, and so can you. There are best practices and bespoke solutions for each of these challenges. But being aware of those is the first step to looking at content marketing in a more dispassionate way.

More consultancy founders have been hurt by doing content wrong than by not doing it at all. Whenever you hear someone praising content marketing as “the solution to all of your problems”, take it as a red flag. If they don’t share and educate you about their approach to addressing the challenges I mentioned, you better find someone else who does.

One Quote

“When I was in First Grade one of my favorite stories was a short picture book called Too Much Noise. It was about a farmer who was overwhelmed by the noise coming from all the animals on his the farm. Today, your clients are the farmer. And, they’re not just surrounded by a few voices. They’re surrounded by thousands of voices vying for their attention. This is not new. But, the breadth of the problem is staggering. In 2020 alone, over 1 billion hours of new content hit the digital landscape — that’s over 1.4M lifetimes of content. Cutting through the noise is harder than ever. To do it, bring a distinct point of view, stay focused in what you want to say, and be ruthlessly disciplined in your delivery.”

Source: Jason Mlicki, Principal at Rattleback

One Number

9 out of 10 service buyers will actively do their own research on a consultant. Unfortunately, 8 out of 10 consultants automatically get rejected because their digital footprint does not point to a desired level of expertise.

This is why content marketing can’t be ignored anymore. Service buyers do independent research before making their decision to engage or even speak with you. If nothing comes up when people google your name, it will be extremely difficult to generate new conversations, opportunities, and projects.

Remember: Marketing's main goal is to support sales. Are your initiatives doing so?

Source: Hinge Research Institute

One Question For You

Have you created at least one piece of content in the last month?

Building visibility and creating demand are directly linked to your ability to share insights and communicate your expertise to others. And to do this consistently. The problem, you might be thinking, is time.

How to increase the likelihood that you will create quality content, and continue to do so when things get busy?

After working with +100 consultancy founders and partners, my answer is simple: commit to activities that you enjoy, and are a good fit for your unique talent and personality.

  • Enjoy writing? Post on LinkedIn. Keep a regular blog and email newsletter. Write articles for publications or white papers
  • Enjoy speaking? Record speeches at trade associations or industry conferences. Start or become a guest on podcasts. Lead online webinars or workshops.
  • Enjoy product development? Curate insights and turn them into an online magazine or recurring publication. Self-publish a book that speaks to your audience.

There are dozens of initiatives that will help you stay on track, increase accountability, and create momentum - feel free to ask me about them. But doing something you enjoy greatly improves the probability that you will do these activities well, and keep doing them regardless of how busy your calendar is. Over time, you can gather the people and tools to support you, and build capabilities to add consistency to your content marketing initiatives.

Thanks for reading. You can get more specialized and actionable growth insights for micro consultancies in our newsletter. Every Tuesday, you get one idea from Danilo, one quote from other experts, one number you need to hear, and one question for you to level up your consulting practice.

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