Niches, segments, practice groups – no matter what you call it, specialization is a strategy that most accounting firms use to encourage growth. Accounting firms have varying degrees of investment into this strategy – some simply claim a niche, while others have dedicated groups that only serve a particular area. At Inovautus, we have beliefs on how practice groups should operate, but we’ll leave that discussion for another post. Today, we’ll focus on how content marketing can amplify your niche strategy.
When done strategically, content marketing should have a meaningful impact on your niche marketing efforts and produce measurable ROI. Content marketing should also help establish your firm and/or its leaders as experts in their particular area, generate interest in your services and help in the sales process. Unfortunately, many firms don’t always see these results. The reason why: lack of strategy. Getting accountants to write is no small task, so when firms start the content marketing process, just getting something on paper is a victory. But this is where things often go wrong. An initial lack of a strategy usually results in firms producing content that isn’t aligned with their target market or areas where they want to grow.
Laser Focus Your Content
In order for content to generate results, it needs to be highly focused on what matters most to your target market. Content needs to hit pain points and fears or address common questions. Yes, alerts and technical information is important, but unless those alerts are compliance based and require a change, they won’t generate action. Getting to the heart of your contacts’ issues will require you to know your market really well. Here are a few ways to accomplish this:
- Go above and beyond tax-planning-type research and start investing in face-time research by talking with contacts about their businesses, concerns, challenges and fears.
- Spend time where your contacts spend time (conferences, associations and more) and actively participate in those venues.
- Read what contacts in your market read. You can’t begin to have sympathy for needs or pain points without deeply understanding the niche you are serving.
- Divide your niche into sub-segments and buyer groups. Your content can’t be laser focused if you are trying to appeal to all sub-segments and buyer groups; their needs and concerns are not one size fits all. For example, let’s say your firm has a specialty in state and local tax and you have a specialty in service-based businesses. You may decide to segment first by focusing on attorneys and then go even further by focusing on national law firms that operate in more than one state. You might also establish several sets of decision makers and influencers, e,g. managing partners, shareholders or controllers. Each group will have its own set of concerns, challenges and pain points.
When you laser focus your content, you will develop content that speaks to a particular sub-segment and specific decision maker’s issues. We usually tell the accountants we coach to literally imagine writing or speaking to this key person.
Make It Relatable
Once you have honed your message, you will need to make sure it’s relatable. By nature, accountants are trained to be technical, but technical jargon won’t generate results. In order for your message to be heard, you need to make it relatable to the reader. This means writing in a style that is approachable. Each author needs to find their own style, but we find that the following tips generally help authors get off on the right foot:
- Use a more informal tone. While we expect proper grammar use, writing in an informal tone will help the reader feel like you are having a conversation with them.
- Use real words. Don’t assume your market has the same understanding of technical jargon that you do. Accountants love their acronyms, but will your audience know what it means?
- Use stories and examples to illustrate your key points. This helps people see their issue or challenge in what you’re writing about.
- Share practical guidance. Don’t make the mistake of creating content that is too opinion based. If you get on a soapbox and or write about a topic that is controversial enough, it might generate interest – but you’re not going for interest. In order to drive action, make sure your give your readers something useful to chew on.
Content marketing in any form can help amplify your niches and generate results, but in order to see results you need to have the right strategy, focus, investment and execution.