Why Your Accounting Firm Content Marketing Isn’t Working Season 1, Episode 2

Jay Baron: Jay Baron here. I am the founder of Madtown with as usual …

Rusty Hall: Rusty Hall. Long time lead engagement professional.

Jay Baron: That is right. We are here with the Growth Marketing for Accounting podcast. We’re gonna start doing this podcast weekly. At Madtown we are a consulting and marketing firm for accounting firms. That’s obviously why we are going to talk about this. Today we want to talk about why your accounting firm marketing … Why your accounting firm content marketing isn’t working. We see a lot of firms right now. They are really struggling with how to buy successful content right now Rusty.

Rusty Hall: Well, it’s kind of a hard thing to do, right? A lot of people kind of think, “Content marketing means I’m going to be doing some blog posts, I’m going to have a couple of good white papers put out there,” and they’re really trying to just develop the assets without really thinking about why are they developing those assets. It’s almost like, “We’re going to do this thing because it’s popular. We know we need it, and we know what we need, but we don’t really know what all goes into it.” That’s part of the challenge of it.

Jay Baron: Yeah. I think what’s really unfortunate with content marketing and why firms are failing because I think actually a lot of marketing agencies and consulting firms have actually sold accounting firms on this kind of this bullshit dream that if they just kind of create blogs regularly they’re actually going to start passively bringing in leads, and we just really want to drive home. It doesn’t work like that. A lot of firms, they need to build a plan first. They can’t just be growing bodies of content around tax updates, and tax changes, and sales tax, which is what a lot of firms do right now. You really got to start executing a plan consistently over time.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, and a lot of content marketing firms, they kind of have a template that they go by and they say, “Well, you’re going to do this X number of posts, X number of white papers,” but they don’t really give you what. What are those going to look like? Why are you doing those? It’s just kind of the content marketing rinse repeat thing that they’ve used in every other situation without kind of tailoring that to your specific number one industry, which some do a pretty good job of, but number two your specific target market within that industry. How do you differentiate yourself, and that’s what should be driving the kind of content … The content in that content basically is what we’re getting at.

Jay Baron: Right, and I think that’s where what I like to sum up is maybe we can give some reasons on why firms aren’t getting the results, and kind of touch on what you’ve talked about is a lot of firms they’re targeting is off right now. They’re not really spending the time to create buyer personas or their firm isn’t even properly positioned right now. Their target audience is really too broad. A lot of firms, they say, “We can help all small businesses. We’re just going to kind of create content that’s kind of geared towards small businesses, towards entrepreneurs,” and the problem is there’s already so many blogs, and content out there on that topic that it’s impossible to really gain traction.

I think a great example about this is let’s say you had a blog five years ago about cryptocurrency. Bitcoin and things like that before it ever took off. If you wrote a blog five years ago, that blog is huge today because you’ve got in before that topic ever took off. If you try to write a blog on cryptocurrency today, you would fail and that’s where a lot of firms are like, “Oh, I’ll just create a tax and accounting blog, and I’m just going to go after small businesses.” Well, there’s millions of websites, and billions of search results that appear on Google that impact your ability to target that audience.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, and a lot of people are like you said just kind of late to the game here, and one of the things that you see especially with the popularity of content marketing is everybody knows they need it, and they want to jump on to it quick, so the bandwagon effect is just … It’s a really small window now that you’ve got to get in those conversations. For your example, like the cryptocurrency thing a new topic opens up, somebody really wants to take it over, well there’s already going to be 20 people that are competing or more, and it’s amazing how quickly this stuff propagates. If you’re not in there in the first couple of weeks now, you’re already behind the eightball on trying to capitalize on topics in the news.

Jay Baron: Yeah, and I don’t want to make this podcast about it, but that’s why positioning is so important. To actually position your firm and identify who is our current target. Who can we help better than anybody else in actually reducing your competition? When you position your firm that’s what you’re doing. You’re reducing the alternatives to hiring your firm, which means you’re probably one of the very few firms actually creating content around that niche.

Rusty Hall: Well, I know that we’re not specifically talking about positioning, but it really is key when we’re thinking about this stuff because kind of a strong position is kind of being where the ball is going to be kind of scenario.

Jay Baron: Yeah.

Rusty Hall: There’s a lot of content marketing firms who are like, “Oh, let’s hijack news. Let’s do a new hijack and try to get something.” Well, again what you just said is you’re already behind.

Jay Baron: Yeah. The tax laws are a good example that just came out.

Rusty Hall: Exactly.

Jay Baron: Firms are doing that.

Rusty Hall: If you’re an accounting firm, you’re super strong in tax, in law, and you’ve got a solid base, and a solid position for there, you’re already positioned to kind of capitalize it and take advantage of that news because you’ve already got a good kind of thought leadership base behind that. It’s really about having that strong position, and then finding the right timing when topics that are relevant to your positioning come up and capitalizing on those.

Jay Baron: Right. Yeah, so let’s say you are properly positioned or you’re targeting … You have a good target with your content. One of the next things you’re really going to do is identifying that firm’s pain points. This is where again a lot of firms struggle. You’ll see a lot of times I would say there’s firm leadership where they can spit out their pain points, you can talk to anybody. “Hey, we know our client’s pain points.” But when I ask firms, “Have you actually validated those pain points and actually asked your clients to make sure those are actually valid pain points?” You’re really met with blank stares I think.

Rusty Hall: Well, it’s one of the … We see it a lot too. People kind of develop these opinions in a vacuum, right? You know what you do, you know what you do well, and you know what would like to be solving for your client, but area you actually solving what is important to them? You could be missing the mark if you’re not doing that kind of feedback loop of … Make that strong position like we said and your value proposition, but always be reassessing that to make sure that what the need that you’re meeting is actually the need your client wants you to meet.

Jay Baron: Yeah. It’s really about validating those pain points. I mean one thing we always recommend is actually doing voice of customer research. It’s actually researching out to your customers, and validating your pain points through. We’re making interviews, we can do email. Email is great actually because you can reach 200, 300 of your clients very quickly.

Rusty Hall: Scale?

Jay Baron: Correct. It’s extremely scalable. Many of us are learning not just about their pain points, but what anxieties they have when trying to buy your service? We can actually touch on that in your content then. What’s their desired outcome even so we can actually … Again, we can create that content, so when a prospect comes in they start reading let’s say your blog content. It’s not only, “We solve this problem. Here’s the outcomes we get.”

Rusty Hall: Well, and the other thing that kind of leads us right into that is once you start getting that feedback you can kind of get of a sense of what does your buyer’s journey look like?

Jay Baron: Yeah.

Rusty Hall: What kind of content is somebody who’s just doing research maybe? What do they consume, and what’s relevant to them versus somebody who’s already in evaluation phase?

Jay Baron: Yeah.

Rusty Hall: You can kind of start to parse that content out into a definable buyer’s journey of interests and awareness content versus your guys who have already done their due diligence, they know who you are, and they know the problems you solve, and your expertise, and they’re ready for a conversation with you when they get there. I think keeping that in mind as you kind of go through your content, and thinking about how they’re going to consume it is an important thing that often gets overlooked.

Jay Baron: Yeah. I know we’ve talked about actually doing the buyers journey, and actually mapping that out into a podcast, so we’re not going to do that right now. But the buyers journey is probably one of the biggest gaps in content marketing that firms actually don’t fulfill. They’re either create like I said a lot of blog content, but they don’t have any constant around that middle stage, and that research stage, and then when they’re actually ready to make a buying decision that outcome stage. That will be like your case studies, and stuff like that. A lot of firms miss that buyers journey. They don’t really have one mapped out.

They don’t understand, “Alright, I need to educate my prospects.” That’s again, your blog content. They need to engage my prospects. They could be infographics, interactive tool that can be white papers, and things like that. Then I need to covert my prospects. How can I actually convert them? That would be your case studies potential and things like that. So, your gated content that you can actually convert the prospect.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, and I should make the point too that when we’re talking about this stuff, and I talk with a lot of people who are … We’ve got so many infographics, and so many blog posts, and a lot of people kind of tend to think about blog posts as kind of that top level content, but it doesn’t have to be.

Jay Baron: Right.

Rusty Hall: Depending on what you’re putting into that blog post, and what you want somebody to come away with, and the questions that you want them to ask after having that a blog post can be top funnel, it can be middle funnel, it can be decision just kind of based on the topic rather than the format. I think a lot of content marketers, a lot of people new to content marketing they focus on the format rather than the buyer stage in the content in there.

Jay Baron: Yeah, and that’s why it’s so important. Do a ruthless audit of what it exists now. A lot of firms actually have tons of content that doesn’t even necessarily exist on the website. They’ve done research reports and things like that or they have white papers. They just need to figure out where it actually sits in the buyers journey and actually start to map that out. Then we also, like I said, recommend. As you’re doing that content audit, determining which content doesn’t work. If you’ve identified your target audience, you mapped out their pain points, look at your content and say, “This content doesn’t work. We’re going to remove it or rework it.”

If people are actually aren’t visiting that content, again we recommend just removing it. It doesn’t have any value right now. Nobody is engaged with it. Let’s just remove it and get better content.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, and when you say rework it that can often be just something like flipping the format on it, right? You may have a killer blog post that’s not getting you any traction. Maybe it would be something that’s better suited for an infographic. You can take it and adapt it to there. But one that we see that’s really successful is sort of kind of what we promote. Take your genius blog post and convert that into a podcast. Maybe it’s not getting the traction because people don’t want to sit there and read it, the information may be good, but it’s just how people need to consume it.

Jay Baron: Yeah.

Rusty Hall: Doing something like a podcast, heck even a YouTube video. A short YouTube video in a YouTube channel, keep that message in that content there. Just flip the format and see if you get better traction in a different format for some of this stuff.

Jay Baron: I mean this podcast came from a blog post we wrote. How to get 100 clients a year.

Rusty Hall: An excellent blog post I might add Mr. J.

Jay Baron: Definitely is. Definitely is.

Rusty Hall: If I may say so.

Jay Baron: That’s what’s great. When a lot of firms they can start to realize they can actually re-purpose content. We’ll get to that probably a little bit later as we discuss cornerstone assets as we talked about during the last podcast, but you can have a white paper or even a blog post. You can turn that into a podcast, you can turn that into a webinar or even to touch on your idea of depth of content too where a blog kind of becomes more like an article, it’s more in depth. It’s so easy, and I’ve had times when I’m, “This blog post can 500 words only.” I wrote it out and it ended up being 2000 words.

This happens to me probably 80% of the time. Once you kind of start writing, you start figuring out a direction, you jus start getting a lot of depth.

Rusty Hall: I got you. Yeah, so what are kind of the first steps when we’re looking for developing some of this content? We’re talking with a firm. We’re talking internally teams, we’re talking to sales, stakeholders.

Jay Baron: Right.

Rusty Hall: Where would you like? You’re coming in doing this kind of ruthless content audit as you put it. Who would be some of the first people that we’d want to bring into that?

Jay Baron: Yeah, I mean I think firm partners obviously, and sales is good because you want to figure out what content are you guys using. Sometimes, content doesn’t get views and things like that. You definitely want to bring people and say, “Is there content that we have available that we’re regularly sending to clients or prospects that actually helps us? What is that content? How can we re-purpose that and reuse it?” That’s definitely one area. The other big thing is actually to look at your analytics. Take a look at your Google Analytics and say, “Okay, let’s review all of our content, and let’s figure out what content people aren’t reading that we can actually get rid of.”

Again, it adds no value whatsoever, and if you want to start talking about SEO and stuff like that you actually lose some of your SEO juice by having that content sit there, and it’s not actually gaining you any value.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, and that’s the other thing with content marketing, and I think kind of the sell on it has been, “Just create more. Create more.” Kind of content into the problem as it were rather than looking for that kind of strategic content that’s actually going to solve the issue. People think, “Well, we’ve got all these different business lines that we cover, so we need to have all this content for everything. Everything needs its own white paper, everything we do needs to have its own case study,” right? That’s really missing the mark on it. That’s just flooding with content rather than trying to find that silver bullet that’s really going to sit solid in your content.

Jay Baron: Yeah. Firms need to be strategic. It’s not about the volume or the words necessarily.

Rusty Hall: Right. But a lot of people fall for that I think.

Jay Baron: Yeah. Again, I think that’s on us as consultants a lot of he’ll preach. Just start blogging. That’s all you need to do, and unfortunately blogging is only 20% of it.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, and …

Jay Baron: There’s just a few other things I think. When you’re trying to measure your content, one issue I see with a lot of firms that say, “You know, our content doesn’t generate leads. We don’t get any results.” It’s because a lot of firms don’t realize how much time it actually takes. We’ve seen it takes 9 to 18 months if you’re regularly creating content to actually start cultivating an audience proving that you are an expert in that target audience that you’ve identified, you understand their pain points. It’s also about measuring that content. A lot of people measure it on a one to one level. They say, “Well, that post didn’t generate lead for us,” or, “That post didn’t work,” or they look at a last click scenario always.

“Oh, the last click was they went to our Contact Us page, they went to the home page.” They didn’t read any blog content, which isn’t really it works. A lot of times they might read, 3, 4, 10, 20 blog posts, and white papers, and things like that through several weeks, but that doesn’t get measured properly.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, and I should jump in here too. One of the things that you’ll kind of see is don’t get confused here too with the bandwagon effect. When we say developing kinda a content strategy, and we’re talking about this longer timeframe to actually get content that kind of moves people forward it makes you like a leader in your particular target that you’re going for. Every time you change position, you’re kind of starting over, right?

Jay Baron: Yeah.

Rusty Hall: Let’s say you do fall victim to one of these news hijack things, and there’s a new topic that hits the news, and you want to jump on that and capitalize on that. Now, all of a sudden you’re going to change direction by putting some of this content out, and that’s really kind of a stretch. Yeah, it’s popular. Sure, it’s going to get clicks, but it doesn’t really inform your leads and your prospects about you. It’s just a way to … They’re going to see the headline, they’re going to click on your stuff, but they’re never going to come back, and they’re never going to see it again.

Jay Baron: Yeah. That’s again where most firms fall victim is they just do tax updates, tax law changes, and that’s great if you want to do taxes. But if you’re trying to get to that strategic advisory role, you need to be thing above that. You can’t be doing those tax updates, and I see big firms that’s all really their blog is. It’s just tax law changes, tax updates, and if you want to do tax returns great. That’s the type of business you’re going to get. But again, if you’re trying to become a strategic advisor, which where a lot of firms are going right now, you need to start to get strategic with your content, and that should be just a small piece of it. Not the first thing that prospects see.

Rusty Hall: I would also say if in the case of accounting firms, there are a lot of updates that you have to stay on top of just to stay in the conversation. It’s kind of one of those kind of have-to’s as far as tax updates and things.

Jay Baron: Right.

Rusty Hall: Spin that off into kind of its own channel, so that people know there’s a difference between your kind of news have-to updates versus your kind of content thought leadership stuff.

Jay Baron: Tax update blog. That’s all I needed.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, exactly.

Jay Baron: Yeah. It shouldn’t be a major driver of your content strategy actually. That’s kind of some of the pain points, and there are issues that are kind of going with content marketing. I know there was a lot there. It’s really about identifying your target audience that really includes like I said finding your niche. We can talk about niche for hours. I don’t want to get too in depth for that.

Rusty Hall: But staying true to it as well?

Jay Baron: Yes. A lot of firms do that too is that they’ll write, and then two months in, “Oh, we didn’t gain any traction, so we’re just going to go … We’re either going to quit this or write about something else.”

Rusty Hall: Yeah.

Jay Baron: Validate pain points. I think that’s really important. Not just … Determine the pain points, and then validate them by actually asking your prospects and your clients what their pain points are. That’s going to be critical as well.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, I mean sit in on some sales conversations. See what that’s like. When you’re selling your services, you want to know what’s coming up in those conversations, and is the content that I’m going after, and I’m trying to deliver the blog post. Am I answering those questions or am I missing the mark because I think I know what the problem is?

Jay Baron: Do a ruthless audit of what currently exists, determine where there’s gaps, start mapping out the buyer’s journey, so this is good content, this content doesn’t work for our clients, and then map where that is in the stage. This early stage content late stage. Is this going to bring prospects in or is this kind of more interactive type content?

Rusty Hall: And examine those formats. Is this blog post good for a podcast? Is this blog post solid enough for a webinar? Should I take this white paper and turn it into a webinar or a YouTube video clip? Don’t be afraid to flip that format and see if that’s an impact on performance for that content.

Jay Baron: Right. Once you’ve kind of started to do that, I think we can really get into what does a content strategy actually look like for firms then?

Rusty Hall: Right. Now we’re getting down to it. I like it.

Jay Baron: Right? The first thing that we talked about during the last podcast, and this just makes content marketing so much easier for firms is to start with that cornerstone asset. What that is, is that’s a really big piece of content.

Rusty Hall: I should say too, this thing is going to kind of sit. We were talking about the stages of the funnel, and the journey that you go through on where you map your content. This thing kind of sits over all of that actually. This is both the net and the hook if you will to bring back the fishing analogy. This thing is really important, and again it is an investment as we said in the previous podcast. But for the mileage you get out of a good kind of cornerstone asset, it’s going to be one of the biggest drivers of your content strategy.

Jay Baron: Yeah. I mean we have a cornerstone asset. Our positioning guide for professional service firms or accounting firms. I mean that generates hundreds of downloads a year. We promote the heck out of it. We have been using that now for over two years. Over 1000 firms have downloaded it. That kind of gives you an idea of what that cornerstone asset can do. Most firms are lucky to get 100 leads a year just from their website, and we’re getting hundreds just from one piece of content that we have available.

Rusty Hall: A lot of what we’re able to create the content outside of that is segments of that, that support that cornerstone asset. It’s easy to go back, and look, and see. Well, we want to talk more in depth, and specifically about this part of that positioning guide.

Jay Baron: Yeah.

Rusty Hall: And you can spin that out into stuff that is still true to your positioning.

Jay Baron: Yeah.

Rusty Hall: And also relevant for the folks and prospects who have already seen that guide. It’s like a deeper dive into it.

Jay Baron: Yeah. Another interesting thing is too, a lot of firms kind of have a cornerstone asset that that exists. It just doesn’t exist on the website. A lot of firms, especially the older firms, the old school thought leaderships they wrote in magazines, and they did speaking engagements and stuff like that. If they can find that content and turn it into a cornerstone asset that’s great. Although, is the other big thing they can do is a researcher. I’m really surprised a lot of firms don’t do more of this where if you have maybe clients within that target market you could literally survey them, do an interview, and actually create a researcher part around the data for that industry, and that’s going to gain a lot of legs.

That’s kind of to help you get start. Again, that first piece of that cornerstone asset. The other big benefit is if you do … Let’s say you hire out some of the … Particularly that cornerstone asset to help you create it, cornerstone assets are going to save you so much money because you can take that one big piece of content and then spin it into several smaller pieces of content to promote that asset.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, and the other thing about that I want to touch back on that kind of a customer client feedback and research that you talked about with those, you have kind of a unique position, right? If you’re a firm with a specific talent, and you’ve got a specific book of clients that’s going to help you attract more clients that look like those where you’re successful. If you release your report where you already have a book of feedback that your clients in a specific target have given you, specific industries say that you’re going to attract more people for that specific industry where you already know that you’ve been successful.

It’s kind of … It’s a self-propagating thing, right? The more you have, the better the data for that specific target, and the more people that are going to be interested from that target so it even broadens your data set that you’re able to pull from.

Jay Baron: Yeah. Right. Now, if your firms you’ve identified or you’ve worked at your cornerstone asset lets kind of keep going and what that content program actually looks like. One of the biggest things is obviously creating blog posts. Again, we talked about this during the last podcast is your goal is to create 2000 words a month of content, and this content really is to actively promote that cornerstone asset. What you’re doing is you’re creating three to five blog posts, and again you can pull this from the cornerstone asset. You’re not copying it direct, but you can rework that asset and turn it into smaller pieces of content to help promote the cornerstone asset, so they’ll link back to the cornerstone asset, so those blog posts are driving traffic. That’s your traffic generator, and then the blog post then point to the cornerstone asset, which is your lead generator, and that’s how you start generating leads.

Rusty Hall: That’s the nice thing is then you’re writing blog posts in support of this thing, and it’s really doing the work, right? It’s doing the conversion, right? They’re coming away with the right questions to ask you, and they’re coming away with the right feeling of your expertise and your leadership. You’ve got it, right? We’re talking about blog posts, and you’ve got the cornerstone asset, but now where are we going to promote this thing Jay? What’s the … We got to heavy promote this thing.

Jay Baron: Yeah. I mean obviously, like I said, there is the SEO benefit for doing blog posts. We actually recommend doing guest posts as well as that. Again, if you don’t an industry report reaching out to industry websites, and creating content around that, and we’ve seen firms that do active guest posting. One guest post can result in 20 to 30 downloads if you kind of do it right. That’s the type of active promotion you need to do with that guest post strategy.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, and also in any kind of though leader role, right? There’s people on Twitter, there’s industry experts on LinkedIn that will review your content, look at it, and sometimes for a fee, sometimes for not. We’ll actually repost it to their followers.

Jay Baron: Right.

Rusty Hall: You can kind of reach more people by finding those industry experts on those social channels, and you can go through them to do either some paid promotion or … Hey, if it’s a killer asset sometimes these guys will pick it up for nothing in reposts.

Jay Baron: One great way to actually reach out to thought leaders is when that cornerstone asset is actually being created, send them a draft as thought leader and say, “Hey, I just want your feedback on this. What do you think?” One, you’re going to get great advice, two, when you post that cornerstone asset you email that thought leader and say, “Hey, I just want you to know this meant live.” I guarantee they’re going to share that piece of content on their social media channels.

Rusty Hall: Oh yeah because a lot of these guys, they’re promoting themselves in their own thought leadership as much as other people. They want to … If you’ve got an awesome industry report that’s coming out, they want their name attached to it as well.

Jay Baron: Yeah, and it’s amazing how eager people are to help with stuff like that too. If you create something, you reach out to three to five thought leaders, get their advice, I guarantee all of them are going to share it. Then that just also includes doing the 30 … Probably the 30 to 60 a month is what we recommend social media updates to … You’re not just promoting just the cornerstone content, but you’re promoting all the blog content you’re creating as well that’s all kind of promoting together.

Rusty Hall: It’s kind of social, and blog, and SEO stuff. What are a couple of other channels that you’d want to push this thing out on?

Jay Baron: Yeah, so one big thing as well is actually doing a webinar around it. If you create this big cornerstone asset, we recommend actually trying to do a webinar. Especially again, if you do a research report or something there’s of data there. You don’t need to share tall that data, but you can summarize your findings in a nice 30 to 45 minute webinar, and actually promote the cornerstone asset through that webinar.

Rusty Hall: Well, yeah. To be fair in this asset you want your readers and your prospects to come away with the right questions to ask. Webinar presents lik a great platform for … Okay, now you’ve seen all this data and this research. What are the next steps? Give them the ability to come onto a webinar asking questions like about this report, your findings. It goes a chance to number one, justify and validate all the research and work that went into this thing, and number two, great pathway to connect with all these folks that have read it, and kind of lead them into the next stage.

Jay Baron: Yeah. That’s … A great example of that is when we talk about our positioning cornerstone asset that we did. We did the cornerstone asset, we’ve done blog and guest posts around it, which have generated leads, we actually did a webinar with Accounting Marketing Association. A huge webinar just specifically on positioning your firm as well. All tied together. That whole webinar honestly, we pulled it off from that positioning guide, so it was really easy to string everything together. That’s how you can kind of string it all together into one coherent strategy again, and use that webinar.

Rusty Hall: Which is cool because there is a lot of data that comes out of this stuff. If you break that down into infographics is a good example or something like that, take just one specific metric out of it and make an infographic around it so that they’re not having to digest the whole thing, but you can take all of that data and then kind of cut it up into shareable … You want it to be shareable on social so that people don’t have to share the entire report or something like that, but it’s just kind of a snippet that gives people an idea of kind of what you’re all about, and the data that’s in the report, and it makes it real easy for them to share that with their network as well.

Jay Baron: Yeah, you’re increasing your reach really.

Rusty Hall: Exactly.

Jay Baron: Not everybody is going to download your cornerstone asset, but if you can create little bits that people actually share and increase the reach of that asset, that’s really all you’re after with some of that stuff, and it’s really interactive and engaging. Again, it kind of fills that need to not only attract with your content, you need to engage with your content as well and be engaging, which kind of really brings it down to I think case studies is kind of really the last piece of kind of developing out of this coherent strategy, so you have the blog content, which is bringing people in, you’re bringing them into your cornerstone asset, you’re doing all this promotion around the content to really drive it home, and then the case studies is really just proved that you are capable.

Again, that cornerstone asset you identified your audience, it’s showing your expertise, now you want case studies to actually verify that what you’re talking about you can actually get results around.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, and none of this stuff is in a vacuum. When we talked earlier about finding those pain points for your customers, and our clients, and verifying hose pain points, this is a great lead-in for some of those cases studies. You’re going to find specific things that you’re solving for a client that’s going to make a unique specific case study. Keep all that in the back of your mind as you’re going through all this because at the end of the day it’s all going to be kind of interconnected. That data is going to be, and your major report is going to be pulled from a lot of what you do for your clients, and then all of that is going to play into who you approach for case studies. In blog posts, obviously you can be about specific topics that you … Or specific areas where you have assisted a client with a specific thing.

Again, all this kind of over arcs in interplay in the content. Don’t be too focused on, “This is just a case study and that’s all it is.”

Jay Baron: Right. I think it even kind of sums up what firms can expect if they implement this strategy.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, let’s do it.

Jay Baron: Yeah because I think that’s where a lot of firms still struggles. They’re going to say, “Alright Jim, invest in this,” and they give up right before they really kind of gain traction. One of the obviously most important things is you’re going to see increased awareness within your targeted niche, and that’s obviously the most important that first need is they’re going to get that increased awareness when they buy into this strategy.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, and you said earlier somewhere around the nine month mark, right? It takes a while to build this stuff up. It’s not an instant thing, and to our point earlier if you change directions in the middle of this you’re just setting yourself back again. That’s why I think we said we weren’t going to make this about positioning, but positioning is really key, right? A strong identity of who you are and what you want.

Jay Baron: Yeah. I did an audit for a client. He tried the positioning thing, and gave up. Truthfully, he just didn’t give it enough time. It takes time. If you’re actually going to own a position in the market, you’re going to create a content marketing strategy around it. Like we said, it’s 9 to 18 months, but typically what we’re seeing is within the first 12 months, it’s not uncommon for firms visibility to increase at least 200%.

Rusty Hall: 200%?

Jay Baron: Yeah. That’s the growth we’re seeing, and it really happens at that nine month mark where all of a sudden you’ll be looking at your site traffic. It’s flat, it’s flat, it’s flat. At that nine month mark it really starts to just kind of spike up and really increase. Then at those 12 months you really see a huge traction gain. Like I said, it’s not uncommon where we’re seeing 200% growth within 12 months when firms really buy into this content program.

Rusty Hall: That’s awesome. Yeah, 200% growth, and then tell me why you’re not investing in that cornerstone asset, right?

Jay Baron: Yeah. That’s … It’s unfortunate because again a lot of firms again they just invest in blogging because they have this idea, “Ah, I’m going to gain all this traction.”

Rusty Hall: It’s a little barrier to entry, right?

Jay Baron: Yeah. It is. It is. Then lastly it’s just an increase inbound leads and opportunities. When you really start buying in on this, getting this content strategy going, invest in the cornerstone asset strategy, and then developing the marketing content program around it you’re going to just start seeing increase inbound leads and opportunities eventually as people start downloading that asset. You’re nurturing them, you’re gaining more traction, you’re gaining visibility within your target market. You just get more qualified opportunities.

Rusty Hall: It’s hard to find that kind of benefit by going to the trade shows, and buy-in advertising, right?

Jay Baron: Yeah. That’s definitely it. I think maybe we can just kind of wrap up here, and really what I really just want to try to drive home for firms is really what we’re trying to say is your firm just needs a plan. You need something to execute consistently over time doing a brainstorming around the cornerstone asset, the content that you’re going to create around that. Stick with that program for a least nine months and really invest in it, and just … Bill Timmins says, “Okay, we’re going to do this deliberately, we’re going to spend money in all of the right channels that just spend them on,” and then you start to really gain faith in the process. You start to have a plan. It’s not …

Rusty Hall: Everybody is going to buy in, right?

Jay Baron: Yeah. It’s not, “What content are we going to create this week?” And, “Oh, there’s this new tax law. Let’s go out and promote a blog post about this.” Then really what we’re seeing with firms is when you invest in this, about 20% to 25% of your revenue should actually be coming from this strategy, and that’s really where you’re starting to see success, and once you start gaining traction is you want to see revenue. As you’re invested in this, that’s what we’re looking for at the end of the day. You’re getting that firm visibility, but then you’re also seeing that actual revenue growth, and you really want to tie back at least 20% of your firms revenue to your content strategy.

Rusty Hall: Solid numbers there Jay.

Jay Baron: Awesome guys. This kind of sums it up for the Growth Marketing Podcast. We will be here next week with another great topic.

Rusty Hall: Yeah. I can’t wait for it. Alright. We’ll talk to you guys then.

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