As a marketer, you might be thrilled that your professional service firm is made up of expert consultants. But all the internal expertise in the world won’t matter if you can’t translate their know-how into heavy-hitting content.
It’s one of the more challenging aspects of being a marketer in a professional service firm . . . but it can be overcome. Here’s how.
Personal Branding Equals Thought Leadership
Branding can be tricky for professional service firms, and personal branding can be even harder. But the key to getting high-quality content out of your consultants lies in your ability to help them develop a personal brand.
To do that, first educate your consultants on what personal branding is and how they can build their own personal brand. In professional service firms, the brand is often related to thought leadership.
To turn your colleagues into thought leaders, ask them to consider questions like these:
- Do I follow any processes or have ideas that differ from the norm?
- Do I hold an unpopular or original opinion on a controversial subject?
- Do I have a unique background that gives me unusual insight into the industry?
- What are my personal and professional values? How do they drive my work with clients?
- Do I have a vision for what I want this field to become?
- How does my particular role in this niche make the world a better place?
Send these questions to your consultants by email and let them think it over before getting answers.
Then, once you have their responses, write up a brief on each consultant that lays out their “personal branding and thought leadership manifesto.” This will serve as the basis of the content you produce with your consultants.
Strategy 1: Spin Their Expertise into Golden Content
You need blog posts, articles and social media messaging, and you want your colleagues to provide it. The trouble is, people often don’t have time to write, and they might feel intimidated by the prospect of facing a blank page.
Rather than asking them to write for you, you can write for them. The first step is to work with your consultants to develop a topic and refine their position on it. Topics that elicit thought-leadership-type content are:
- Opinions on recently published books in your field
- Reactions to controversies
- Ideas on how current events might affect the industry
- Surprising experiences with clients that changed their thinking
- Particular processes, guidelines or best practices that the consultant can claim as his or her own
Once you’ve gathered some talking points from your colleagues, turn their ideas into a blog post and promote that post on social media. Remember that if the topic is on the bigger side, you might have enough for more than one post, or a post as well as an infographic or white paper.
At least once a year, choose one of the more substantive topics you’ve written about and expand it into an article pitch for an industry trade magazine, or even a business publication like Forbes or Fast Company. You’ll get some rejections, but the effort is worth it: Once you get an article or two published, your consultant’s credibility will shoot up considerably.
Strategy 2: Create Different Profiles on Social Media
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are prime platforms to showcase your consultants’ various personal branding manifestos. But rather than posting under the company in general, set up profiles for the two or three most prominent consultants, and post their content under their feeds specifically.
One caveat: Ask your colleagues if they’re comfortable with you reacting to others’ messages and engaging in conversations on their behalf. If they say no, you can probably still safely promote the content you wrote for them.
Strategy 3: Alert the Media
Getting media attention can be trying, especially if you don’t have dedicated PR staff. There are two tactics that can help.
First, devote a couple hours to researching articles on topics your consultant is an expert on and start a spreadsheet listing the journalists who wrote them. Then, when you have a substantial piece of content to pitch, send it to those journalists specifically, citing the other articles that make them a good fit. Eventually, you’ll develop relationships with the journalists who cover relevant topics. And when they need an expert to interview, they’re more likely to think of your consultants.
Second, take advantage of HARO and ProfNet.
- HARO, which stands for Help a Reporter Out, is a service that connects experts with journalists and reporters. If you sign up to be a source on behalf of your internal experts, you’ll get emails that call for quotes your experts might be able to supply.
- ProfNet by PR Newswire is like HARO – it connects sources with journalists for all types of stories. Learn more about how to join.
Transforming your colleagues’ expertise into world-class content is a long-term process – but it’s a rewarding one. If you stick to it, your efforts are more likely to draw in prospects and turn them into paying clients. And as a bonus, you’ll learn much more about your field!
If you want more clarity in your marketing strategy, take the first step with our no-obligation Inbound Marketing Assessment.