On Tuesday, we jumped into the first half of Kevin McKeown and Lee Frederiksen's webinar on Blogging for Clients. Today, we're looking at the second half!
Developing your Strategy and Tools
Lee said that when you look at online marketing at a macro level, there's not one technique that says "this is the one to use." There are a whole bunch of techniques. So how do these fit together - how do you make sense out of this about what you need to do, and when you need to do it?
He showed us a slide with the content marketing model, which shows how the various techniques fit together. It was a series of steps, with escalating levels of interaction and trust with the client - it goes from the point where they've never heard of you all the way to they're a client. Lee said that marketers may look at this as their marketing funnel, and business developers as their pipeline.
The first element of the content marketing model is creating different levels of content and opportunities to interact. On the lowest level is the kind of content that doesn't require any registration, signing in or anything besides going to your website or looking at you on social media. These are things like blog posts, web content, downloads, and articles - all of those things you're sharing online. This is what attracts people in the first place.
Then, at some point, you have content at the next level of engagement. This may be an e-newsletter, a webinar, an ebook - something that is more valuable, more specific and people are willing to sign up in order to have access to that information. They give you their email address and begin a dialogue.
Beyond that, the next level of interaction is where you're actually engaging with them on the specifics of their situation, whether that's a phone consultation or a demo. This requires more from them - more of their time - and they're not going to do it unless they have an interest in learning more or engaging with you.
Finally, you get to the level where you get a request for a proposal. Along the way, it's not enough to have this content just sitting there. People have to be able to find it and that's where promotion comes in, along with SEO and social media sharing.
The last step in the process is converting them - having them walk up the stairs of engagement a they become more comfortable and interested in what you're doing. There's a qualification here - if you're offering interaction and these things, the people who take that offer are more interested in what you're doing, and they become more qualified.
Kevin added that to keep things simple, at the end of the day what you're looking to do is establish yourself as a trusted authority. The best way to do that is to take the time to understand your clients' and potential clients' businesses - what are their problems and solutions? They don't want you to talk about what you do - they want you to demonstrate that you understand their business and how to help them.
Lee then put up a second poll, asking which of the online tools the audience members were active in.
- Blogging: 66%
- LinkedIn: 89%
- Twitter: 64%
- Facebook: 49%
- Industry-specific group: 53%
Lee pointed out, "this is not about you." You're not sharing how smart you are - that's where people get trapped when they're thinking about thought leadership. Thought leadership is not about how much you know or how smart you are - it's about how helpful you can be to your potential clients and people in your marketplace.
Kevin said that when he thinks about thought leaders, they don't spew their credentials and qualifications, but instead are aggregating and curating information.
Lee - this is not about you. You're nto sharing how smart you are. That's wher epeople get trapped when they think about htouhgt leadership. Not how much you know or how smart, as much as it is how helpful can you be to your potential clients and people in the marketplace - give before you get.
The presenters then turned to discussing blogs in particular. Kevin began, identifying a blog as a flexible medium that allows you to demonstrate your expertise and what you're passionate about. It allows you to control your content and to use it offensively. He said that others may have different strategies, but generally people use their blog as their focal point.
He added a dose of common sense - professional services firms get their best work through relationships and word of mouth. So he asked how we can use the internet as a tool to accelerate those relationships. The key is to take the time to cultivate a strong online identity or persona. Begin with the end in mind - what do you want?
Cultivating an online persona is a strategy, but what are your goals? Do you want to be able to enhance your reputation, grow your network of relationships, or establish yourself as a subject-matter expert in your field? Also, you don't want to just get any clients - you want to secure high quality clients.
Kevin pointed out that his next slide gave some basic advice, which a lot of us forget - "listen before you talk." He cautioned the audience not to get overwhelmed by the information in the webinar, but to appreciate that all they need to do to start to experience the online world and social media is to listen.
He used the example of a cocktail party (always my favorite example) - if the members of the audience were in one room, and he walked in and started to yell at everyone about who he is and what they should do, no one would listen.
He offered five phrases and asked us to think about how these made us feel:
- Talk at
If someone treated us this way, how would we feel?
However, compare this with:
- Listen first
- Talk with
We'd want the latter. His point here is that there's a continuum of how you develop a relationship, and it all starts with listening.
Kevin then gave us seven big picture points, and said that more information on each of these points was available on his blog. These points address if you're not blogging yet, or if you're blogging already, how can you do this better?
- Listen before you engage online: Kevin used Dan Schwartz as an example. He has 10,000-15,000 followers on his blog. He set up listening tools to create situational awareness about what's important to his audience. Some of these tools are Google Alerts, Zite, Twitter, and Flipboard.
- Strategy first, tools second: Kevin mentioned a lawyer in Seattle, who authors Venture Alley, a blog whose point is to connect with the entrepreneurial community in Seattle. Before launching the blog, he set up a Twitter feed and started listening to key influencers - Angels,
VCs, entrepreneurs - so he could craft a strategy for blogging.
- Your authentic content matters most: Cozen O'Connor has a blog authored by a trial attorney with a stuttering problem. He wrote about it, which was a big gamble, but said that it doesn't have to be a disability. His post was widely disseminated, and he's highly regarded and effective in court - that's authentic.
- Leverage and repurpose: Kevin pointed out that professionals get paid to do certain work, and often have to engage in professional development. You can leverage and repurpose this paid work. He said he knows a young attorney who wrote an article about how to use an iPad to make him more professional in court - he turned this into a blog post, and then disseminated it among other platforms.
- Converse with the right audience: This isn't just potential clients and clients, but also amplifiers and influencers. It's important to find a way to connect and create more attraction.
- Seed and distribute: If you're using your blog in the right way, you want to use it offensively. Craft a good blog post, similar to what they talked about, and then broadcast it out - tweet about it, link on LinkedIn, etc.
- Make shareable so others can spread content: Because others will spread it across their networks - that's the key: spreading word of mouth reputation.
Kevin then gave us his key takeaway - to be effective, don't jump in and start playing. Start by listening, subscribing to Google, setting up Twitter and following five or ten people you care about. Start to experience the communication ecosystem. That will help you to develop a strategy and then you can decide how to use the tools.
Next week, we'll go through the Q&A from the webinar!