How to use content to prove your expertise in a specialist sector

Sonja Jefferson

The usual approach to sector web content

Larger professional services businesses that offer many services across multiple sectors often fail to make the best impact online.  Despite deep levels of knowledge and expertise, many experienced practitioners in larger law firms, multi-disciplinary accountancy practices, or business consultancies struggle to communicate effectively on their websites with those looking for their services.

Today the web plays an increasingly important part in the buyer’s path to a sale. Even if they have found you offline (for example through referral) potential clients or others in their firm will check out your website to ensure the story stacks up. Get your website sector content right and you can earn their trust and increase the chances of getting the sale. This is a real opportunity to differentiate in a competitive market place.

So how do you communicate on the web with a specialist sector?  What content do you need to demonstrate your expertise and build trust? The best place to start is to put yourself in your client’s shoes.

What clients want from your website

Ask yourself ‘If I was looking online for a lawyer with strong experience of the aeronautical industry/an accountant with deep retail knowledge/ a consultant who works with media companies what would I want to know?

Chances are you’d want to find someone that you could see understood you and your concerns. Examples of their thinking applied to your issues, and evidence of what they are doing in your sector would establish whether or not they are the right person to help you. It’s a question of trust.

“Prove you understand their world.”

More than likely you would see that kind of evidence as more important than qualifications or accreditations, (indeed once on a reputable website you would take it for granted that the person was well qualified). Evidence of relevant thinking and doing would almost certainly be more compelling than the kind of general information often cited in an “About Us” page. Golf and fine works for charity are all well and good, you think, but how can you help me?

So what evidence do you need, and how should it be presented when it comes to your website?

A valuable approach to sector web content

Content tips to support your sector marketing plan

What content do you need on your website? Here are our top tips for using content to support a sector marketing plan.

1. Start a sector-specific blog

“A good blog is trust building gold for professionals looking to shine within a specialist sector.”

Prospective clients want to know the people they are researching are part of their world, and a niche blog is the place to show that. Why is it so important? A blog lets you be specific and show your workings. Where else can you share your thinking on a question raised by a client? And chances are that if one client is concerned about an issue, it will be on the horizon for others too. Writing a blog lets you talk to the many prospective clients who will be searching for answers to the question you can answer. It shows you as helpful, knowledgeable, and on the case. A good blog is trust building gold for professionals looking to shine within a specialist sector.

2. Create heavyweight content to download

Create something really valuable and totally relevant for clients in that sector – a whitepaper, some solid research, an e-book to download and take away. This kind of heavyweight stock content is far more compelling than a brochure, because it’s useful. It’s the type of content that flies under a company’s anti-marketing radar and gets passed around. Great for your referrers too as it makes you easier to recommend.

3. Invite them to sign up for a sector newsletter

Offer up a way of keeping in touch so they can continue to receive great content and you have an opportunity to build the relationship until they are ready to buy. Don’t lose contact once you have their attention.  A valuable monthly email newsletter is a great way to do this and simple to set up: http://www.valuablecontent.co.uk/top-tips-for-successful-business-newsletters/. Invite those on your list to sector-specific webinars. A great way to turn interest into opportunity.

4. Create social media feeds for your sector

A valuable niche Twitter feed or LinkedIn group for your sector will help you build and manage a very large network of contacts. It’s another good way of keeping in touch and engaging the interest of potential clients, and an unsurpassed tool for distributing useful content with your sector.

5. Organise your sector information thoughtfully

The good news is that you almost certainly already have much of the information you need to demonstrate your sector expertise. The bad news is that it might be hard to find on your website. Promote relevant content on your sector page. Make it VERY easy for people to find.

  • Are relevant case studies clearly headlined and linked to services? (Don’t make potential clients wade through a general case studies page to find the nuggets that interest them – do the leg work for them.)
  • Is there a link to relevant blog articles on the sector page?
  • Does the page offer me a call to action to download more useful information?
  • Are the relevant expert’s biography and contact details on the same page as the case study in case I want to get in touch now?
  • Is there a link to sign up for a newsletter or RSS feed if I want to stay in touch, but don’t want to talk yet?
  • Is there a friendly face to talk to? Photo and details.

Put all the relevant information in one place. Make it easy for people. Every time you bounce them off to search for something in another part of the website is a chance to lose them. Keep them close!

Professional businesses getting sector content right:

Check out these examples:

  1. Accenture – see their web content for the banking sector web content for example – service, research & insights, client success all on view -> Accenture Banking
  2. IBM – check out their content for the same sector – masses of valuable content that proves their expertise -> IBM Banking (design and layout could be a bit better but the content is sound!)

Serve your sector with valuable web content

Get the sector section of your website right and you can build the trust that leads to sales. But you have to work HARD to do so. Serve your sector. Think of your clients’ specific needs and do everything you can to fulfil them on your website.

It’s a real opportunity to differentiate: we haven’t found many good examples of people doing this well. Start with one sector – go deep, then move on and add value to the next one.

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4 Comments

  1. Spot on yet again Sonja! (No surprises there!)
    Like I say to many people – it’s a bit like searching for your soul mate when online dating…

    What we all want is someone we connect with. But all we can judge someone on initially is the quality of their personal ad.

    The worst kinds of ads will say ‘I’ve got a GSOH’ which immediately raises our suspicions that they probably haven’t or have nothing more imaginative to say. Whereas if they really were funny they’d just write a funny ad that would prove it outright!!

    The secret is behaving and communicating online like you would in person i.e. communicate authentically, not like you’re trying to impress, but (as you say) market yourself like you mean it!
    That’s the point of content marketing. That’s what will build trust.

    Reply
  2. Thanks Ryan – great analogy. You’re right – it’s that feeling of connection we’re all hunting for. It’s always disappointing when we don’t find it – in person or online! Thanks for the excellent comment.

    Reply
  3. Hello Sonja,

    As Ryan said, once again, spot on.

    The only thing I would add is to make sure you are using their language consistently in the part of the website focused on them. It’s only a little thing, but talking about customers (even accidentally once a diagram) when you are trying to engage professional service firms, will typically switch them off, and damage your credibility.

    Firms may like to consider using micro sites in order to attract their different clients from different sectors – particularly when considering a private client vs a corporate audience.

    Reply

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