Building A Tech Consulting Firm Content Production System

 

By David Smith

Content is the fuel for the marketing systems of tech consulting firms. It provides the means to demonstrate expertise and thought leadership. It separates those that just “go along” from leaders in their field.

But content production can be a tricky problem to solve. Your subject matter experts are also your most valuable consultants. Balancing client commitments and marketing commitments can be demanding. Many firms struggle to solve the content production problem.

Most consulting firm subject matter experts have plenty to say, but they are terrible at organizing their thoughts and getting their ideas on paper. A simple process can help you overcome the perceived hardship and successfully generate content consistently.

Here are the steps Valens Point uses to help our consulting firm clients generate quality content.

  1. Plan
  2. Write
  3. Leverage
  4. Follow-up

Plan Content Themes and Subjects

The most basic concept of content production is to generate the content your audience wants to consume. That may sound obvious, but many firms simply guess. They produce the same material that their competitors and product partners provide and can’t differentiate their firm from others that claim to do the same things they do. It’s purely a copy-cat game.

To break out from the pack of other firms, you have to ask your audience and play to your strengths.

It’s incredible what firms can learn if they simply ask their audience what they want to know. Most firms think its uber-technical know-how that captures the attention of their audience. But many of your customers and prospects may wish to have information that helps them plan and make better decisions. Providing your audience with the three potential options of a configuration menu may be helpful. Still, it does not compare to the value of understanding the significance of each option.

You need to identify specific areas of expertise that your firm can deliver that others cannot. This may be your firm’s industry-specific knowledge, your firm’s product experience, or expertise on best practices and project success factors.

Your plan should include articles, visual elements, long-form content, presentations, and follow-up material.

Get Content Writing Done

Once you identify a theme or subject, think in terms of serialization of your content. Construct a logical sequence of articles and content that build your credibility and inform, educate, and influence your audience.

Consider what your audience needs to know on this subject. For example, best practices, alternatives, decision criteria, common mistakes, frequently asked questions, and other topics.

Within a particular theme (noted above), pinpoint 4 – 6 pieces of content and assign a purpose to each piece. For example, suppose you are a consulting firm with considerable expertise in ProductX (you can fill in anything there). Your theme is helping customers improve productivity with the product. You might identify an article titled “The 3 Best ProductX Use Cases” and note that the article is to educate the reader and help them justify their expenditure. By sharing this information with potential ProductX customers, you are building credibility.

Your next action is to create an outline for each article. Usually, this will involve selecting 3 – 5 significant elements and what you want the consumer to know for each. A simple bullet-point outline of information works well here. You can create all of your outlines in one session or as you begin your content writing process.

After completion of the outline, we like to use an interview technique to capture the details and the authors’ voice. Using the outline, it’s as simple as having a facilitator asking questions of the subject matter expert (e.g., what does that mean? Can you explain why that’s important? etc.) and filling in your outline document with text. Often, we also record the interview session to share with our writers or to produce a transcript. 

With a solid outline and details filled in the article can move into a draft stage. With reviews and revisions, the article can be finalized and provisioned.

Leverage Content for Thought Leadership

Generating content on a single theme or subject allows you to combine the individual elements into thought leadership material: guides, eBooks, webinars, and speaking presentations.

Your individual articles can be combined and synthesized in lengthy articles. Long-form content (over 2,500 words) can be deployed on your website as Guides, e.g., “The Down and Dirty Guide to ProductX.”   This content has a significant SEO impact when properly deployed on your website. This content is also called Pillar Pages or Hub Pages.

An example of a guide page on Tech Consulting Firm Branding can be found here.

The same long-form content can produce eBooks or whitepapers if the content is suitable for such use. 

Webinar and speaking presentations are also a great way to utilize your in-depth content. If you’ve planned your content well and kept your audience’s needs in mind, building a presentation for a speaking engagement or webinar is another way to build authority.

The Fortune is in the Follow-up

Your content has demonstrated your expertise and built credibility. But what happens now?

Making your content actionable is the final element of content production. The actionable elements of content give you a reason to follow-up with content consumers and extend the engagement. This premium content helps them receive value.

Actionable material could include self-help guides, worksheets, checklists, and both free and paid assessments.

Analysis oriented content (e.g., worksheets, checklists, etc.) are meant for the consumer to act without your involvement. These content items can be offered during engagement, i.e., when the person is consuming the content on your website. You often see this as a call to action at the end of an article or a pop-up offer. They further the value of the content. An example analysis content piece might be the Implementation Checklist for “ProductX.”

Assessments, both self-conducted or delivered by you as a project, identify the answer to a particular problem and describe a course of action for a solution. These are more in-depth than analysis tools and are often the first projects with new clients.

Examples of call to action content can be found on the pages of this Content Guide.

Include content for calls to actions and follow-up in your planning stage.

Content production need not be complicated. Consistency, using a simple process, is the key to success.

 

 

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