How to Write a Successful Accounting Blog Post Season 1 Episode 6

Jay Baron: Howdy everybody, and welcome to the Marketing First Podcast For Accounting Firms. I am Jay Baron, founder of Madtown.

Rusty Hall: And Rusty Hall here again, longtime lead engagement professional.

Jay Baron: And we are down here at our local pub again, having some beers, and here to talk about some content marketing.

Rusty Hall: Jay and I just get together and have beers, and topic of content marketing comes up. We’re either the most interesting or the most boring people I’ve ever met.

Jay Baron: Well, the worst part is we keep trying to transition to a new topic, but every time we’re like, “Hey, I have another post about content. Let’s do that one again.”

Rusty Hall: That’s because … Yeah, we prepared to do the wrap up for this last season like three weeks ago and Jay’s like, “Wait, wait, wait. I’ve got one more thing.” You know? And you can’t argue. When it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea.

Jay Baron: Right. And I think we’re going to talk about a really important topic, which is what does a successful blog post actually look like for firms. I think a lot of firms, they’re creating content, but they don’t know how to actually structure content, what they should actually be putting in their blog posts, and what it takes or what type of content actually is successful and what performs really well. And I think this is a great segue with everything else we’ve talked about in the past few months.

Rusty Hall: Well, everything else that … We’ve kind of touched on blog posts with this. We’ve talked about SEO and how to optimize that on your website, smoke testing kind of touches on blog posts. It’s just a great kind of lead gen channel. But we haven’t really dug into, “Hey, what makes a good blog post?” So I think it makes total sense.

Jay Baron: Yeah. And I think one of the first things we can kind of go into is, when you’re trying to build this blog post, like, what kind of questions do you need to be asking or answering yourself? Especially when you’re trying to figure out, “Okay, how can I create a blog post that ranks really well, that people actually want to read?” And I think the first thing is understanding, “What is the searcher actually trying to accomplish?” So if someone’s going to search and find this post, what are they actually trying to figure out when they make that search?

Rusty Hall: And this is something that we kind of touched on a little bit in a previous podcast about search ranking and search engine optimization. And one of the things is having kind of top of mind the problem that somebody has when they’re kind of searching and looking to solve, and keep in mind how you would naturally search for that. Like, you wouldn’t go in and necessarily type in a specific topic. But you might be more searching around the problem that you’re having.

Jay Baron: Right. Yeah, I mean, if you’re trying to go through, like, a merger and acquisition right now and you’re searching around that, where a lot of firms make a mistake is they say, “Oh, well, the searcher’s intent is they need a merger and acquisition service, so we’re going to just talk about that in our blog post.” But that didn’t really answer what their problem is. And that’s what you really need to figure out, is, “All right. If I’m searching what am I trying to accomplish? And now we need to answer that searcher’s query within our blog post.”

Rusty Hall: And also about that, you know, you get … it may not be just one specific interest that they’re going to be looking for. Right? They may be searching around a topic that’s going to touch on several different areas and several different topics of interest. So you’ve always got to keep that in mind, too, that blog posts may be applicable; in the case of mergers and acquisitions, there’s many facets that are going to go into something like that that people are going to be interested in.

Jay Baron: Exactly. So I think that’s where it’s important to start with, “Okay, what is the searcher trying to accomplish?” That’s number one when you’re trying to create your blog post. Figure it out, and make sure that’s within the content. And then I think next is, “Are there multiple intents behind this search?” So if we’re looking for a merger and acquisition, just to kind of continue with that example, is, you know, whether you’re the business that’s getting acquired or you’re the one acquiring the business, there’s different intents there, so your blog post needs to answer potentially all of those different intents that someone might have with that piece of content.

Rusty Hall: Both sides.

Jay Baron: So you also need to figure out that … not cover that one topic, otherwise you’re going to get a lot of people leaving the page if you don’t cover those other intents in the search.

Rusty Hall: And we’re always pretty big on, I mean, if you’ve listened to previous podcasts and things like that, most of it kind of starts with thinking in the customer’s mindset, kind of putting yourself in their shoes, and what they’re going to be looking for, which is kind of what we’re talking about here. So we establish those things, and then kind of, what would be your next step on that, Jay? You’ve got kind of the idea from the customer’s perspective. Now you’re the business, now you’re the blog poster. Now what are you thinking?

Jay Baron: Right. And I’m sorry, I completely missed your question because our waitress kind of came up and distracted me. So I need you to restate it.

Rusty Hall: No problem. That’s why we do it here at the pub, right? Because another beer is just a wave of the hand away. But it was basically just about, you know, after you’ve kind of established what it looks like from the customer’s perspective and what they’re trying to accomplish, how do you get in the mindset of, “What are you trying to accomplish as a business? What’s your goal behind this blog post?”

Jay Baron: No, that’s right. And I think that’s where … What we’re trying to do when we’re answering this question is, okay, figure out what the searcher’s intent is, that’s number one within the blog post. Now you can figure out, “Okay, are there multiple intents? We need to make that within the blog post.” And now, “What’s our actual goal as a firm? Are we just trying to build brand awareness? Is this something where we’re trying to get consultations? Do we have some sort of free service that we’re trying to offer?” And that’s where you’re thinking about what your intent is as a business and what your goal is. And then you can start working that in the blog post as well. But the key is, again, we’re answering the search query first, then we’re looking at multiple intents, and then our business objectives come last. Our first goal should always be to solve that searcher’s problem.

Rusty Hall: Yeah. And that’s, again, like we’ve talked about in previous SEO podcasts, when we were talking about that, is the last thing you want to do is spend time developing something that people are going to bounce from. Right? Great, you’ve ranked in searching, but you didn’t really answer the program that they have in hand. So that’s a very pertinent thing to keep in mind. Then, also to your point with the business goal behind this thing, that plays into buyer’s journey, which we’ve talked about before.

Jay Baron: Yes.

Rusty Hall: You know, one of the things that’s interesting is when I’m doing a kind of content audit for a company that’s, “You know, here’s all our content, and where does it fall?” Almost 90% of the time, people put all of their blog posts in stage one. You know? Like, awareness stage. Even if the call to action on that blog post may be deeper in the funnel, people just have a-

Jay Baron: Yeah, it’s always a consultation, usually.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, they have a mindset of, “A blog post is always going to be an awareness phase.” So that’s an interesting thing about business intent as you’re developing your blog post.

Jay Baron: Yeah, and it is about limiting that bounce back. Again, Google, as a ranking factor, they look at, “Are people pogo-sticking from your blog post?” So if they searched, they found it, they go right back to the search result page and look for something else … So that’s really important. And then it is mapping that business goal to actually what stage somebody’s at. You’re not going to hit someone with a consultation if you have a very generic, top-of-the-funnel blog post. It just doesn’t make sense.

Rusty Hall: And back to your point on pogo-sticking, this is kind of the thing where you as the blog poster or the business have to think about, “What’s going to be the next question that they’re going to want answered?” Right? “What questions did I leave in this blog post that I can then throw that link out to that’s going to keep them from bouncing off the page, and go deeper into additional blog posts or other resources on my site?”

Jay Baron: Well, that’s why understanding multiple search intent is so important. Again, you’re trying to limit that pogo-sticking. You can’t just think about it from one angle. You’re saying, “Hey, if someone’s searching this, are there multiple intents behind this very specific search? Could somebody searching it mean something completely different? And does my blog post answer that as well?”

Rusty Hall: Yeah, and, you know, to continue on with our mergers and acquisition things, we kind of stated earlier, you think about those questions and then, well, there’s going to be problems with integrations of different financial practices or different tax laws that you’re going to have to think about. You’ve got to keep all of those ready to go so that you’ve got additional blog posts that you can link out to that are going to answer those questions.

Jay Baron: Yeah. I mean, there’s so many questions that come from just mergers and acquisitions, like tax implications, like things like that, how to maximize when I’m selling my business and things like that that you need to think about and make sure that those are covered, because again, there’s multiple intent, and you want to limit that pogo-sticking, and you want people to go deeper into your own content. So, I mean, you’ve just got to kind of figure that stuff out. And now that you’ve kind of, you know, if you’ve started to answer these questions, now you can actually start designing your content flow. This is what a lot of people are trying to … a lot of firms are [inaudible 00:08:28], like, this is what they want to know, is, “How do I actually design my blog posts? What content actually goes in it. What does a typical blog post look like?”

I mean, obviously I think the first thing is you have that keyword focused header right at the top. The reason you have that is, again, that search intent. Someone searched, they go to the page, they want to know right away, “Is this the page that I’m looking for?” You know? And if your headline has what they searched within it, they have a good chance to say, “Oh, this is what I’m looking for.” It prevents that pogo-sticking, and you’re structuring your page in a way that really makes sense.

Rusty Hall: And I’ve seen a lot of marketers kind of shoot themselves in the foot here trying to be too clever. Right? A lot of the times you fall into the trap of, like, you’re really clever, clever headline or something like that. Which, it’s maybe funny or catchy to you, but really save that for, like, your subheader. Right?

Jay Baron: Yep. No, I agree. There’s a balance. You definitely want to do click-worthy headlines, but also, again, you have to fulfill that searcher’s intent, so if you get too crazy, they search something, they see the headline, they’re like, “Oh, this isn’t what I want.” They already went back, they went somewhere else. They’re not going to guess and hope that this is the right page for them. So, yeah, again, there’s a balance there. I think also, like, a sub headline and things like that are really important. And I think also what’s important is, all right, so you have that keyword-focused header up top, follow that up with a nice featured image that kind of resonates with what somebody’s searching. So again, you’re making the content more engaging to prevent pogo-sticking. That image can also reinforce what the post is about.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, and there’s a couple of different ways to go about that. The two ways that I like to think about it is, think about what it’s going to look like as, like, a display ad, right? If you’re going to syndicate this content a little bit, if you’re going to push that blog out on other channels-

Jay Baron: Yeah, that’s a great idea. I didn’t think about that.

Rusty Hall: Got to have an image, right? And it’s got to be something that’s pretty catchy and, you know, kind of gives an idea of what the post is going to be about, and where you’re going, and how that’s related. And then the other thing on your featured image stuff is there’s also a great place for linking here, right? If you’ve got additional content that’s around that particular topic, like, use that image as a link to your additional topics around that. There’s multiple … a multitude of reasons why you should include it, include a good one. And, you know, with the availability of really good stock photography today, not hard today.

Jay Baron: Right. Yep. No, and stock photos are easy. A lot of firms now have done images in their firm that they can leverage. Just spend the time and make sure it makes sense. Get away from always the people that are at a desk sitting in an office.

Rusty Hall: You did a cool one the other day actually that I thought was kind of novel. This was specifically for some of your advertising, but you kind of A/B tested a more traditional stock photo, and then, like, a personal photo. I think that’s a cool way, again, with this feature and image thing. You can kind of test the waters even on an A/B test there.

Jay Baron: Yep. The stock photo actually did better. So I must be really ugly, or not very attractive. I don’t know. But it didn’t do very well.

Rusty Hall: You should leave a comment at the bottom of the podcast here if you know a makeover artist for Jay. We’re trying to get him some more clicks.

Jay Baron: Yeah, those clicks didn’t work out. But, you can test stuff like that, which is always interesting. Then, I think after you spend the time, you get that featured image, you’ve got to have a solid lead in. So you have that keyword-focused header, you’ve got a featured image, you’ve got to have that solid lead in that kind of leads into the blog post. And honestly, I think it starts to answer that first question, which is, “What is the searcher query’s intent?” A lot of people wait until the very end to answer it as a way to get them to read. And I don’t think that’s what you want to do. You want to enter that in that lead in, try to start … at least start answering the question. Then, leading them down into the additional content which goes more in depth.

So if it’s a simple, “Am I responsible for this tax,” you can answer it right away in the first sentence: “Yes, you are. Here’s what you need to know about it.”

Rusty Hall: Right. And then you’ve already established the fact that, “Hey, you’ve got the answer, and now here’s why.”

Jay Baron: “Does this sales tax apply to me?” “Yes, it does.”

Rusty Hall: “Yes, it does.”

Jay Baron: “Here’s what you need to know about it.”

Rusty Hall: Go from there.

Jay Baron: Yep. Just answer that search query’s intent right away. Then, you can start to answer the additional searcher intent within the additional content and paragraphs below as well.

Rusty Hall: And this is where you start including things like some of your more supporting visuals, like, some of your graphics, you know statistics around the topic.

Jay Baron: Which is sorely missing from … If you go to any accounting firm website today, I don’t think they do featured images, and they do not do supporting graphics within their content at all.

Rusty Hall: You see a lot of, you know, especially in some of the financial blogs and things like that, are, you know, those big old blocks of text. Right? You click on it and, boy, it’s like H1 tag, H2 tag, block of body copy. Right?

Jay Baron: Yeah. I mean, the graphics at least will just help break the content up. They make it more engaging. And then if you can start doing things such as getting graphs in the article, and those really compelling visuals that really reinforce what you’re trying to say, those are extremely powerful and do extremely well. They’re also shareable. So those are the great things about those graphics, is they do help. They do improve engagements. They do improve people scrolling through your content. And they do improve people just staying longer on the site.

Rusty Hall: They also help in an additional benefit; in just kind of a structural way. One of the things that I always like to think about with blog content is, make it at least fairly skimmable, fairly scannable for somebody who’s visiting it. So maybe if there’s-

Jay Baron: Well, you’re not credit card skimming, I hope.

Rusty Hall: Not since the 80s anyway. But, no, you want to have … you can use those graphics or those charts or statistics as call outs to specific parts of the content, so that maybe if I’m just interested in one part I can quickly scroll through and see there’s a graphic on that specific thing I’m interested in. And that makes it infinitely more easy for people to navigate.

Jay Baron: I mean, I’ve been using gifs in mine actually, lately, just funny gifs and memes. They do support actually what I’m saying, but they’re engaging, people like them. And they’re differentiating. Like, it just makes the content different. So people like that. So, I mean, even stuff like that can really help your content stand out and make that blog post better.

Rusty Hall: Well, and you think about what you’re wrapping around those graphics of interest. Right? You’re usually finishing answering a question above it, and you’re starting a new question below it. So when somebody usually comes to that gif, and they stop and they pause a minute, then they’re already going to see that, hey, the next question a little bit deeper into the topic. So it’s a great way to kind of spark some interest and keep them reading.

Jay Baron: Yeah. I think the other big key to structuring your content flow and what that looks like is, and we’ve talked about this in other podcasts, it’s so important, is that internal linking and calls to action-

Rusty Hall: I love those links.

Jay Baron: To additional content to reduce that bounce rate. We talked about it above. You’re trying to limit that bounce rate. And so many firms don’t do this. You have to interlink your content together.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, you’ve already got probably expert topics. You’ve got additional blog posts that support the stuff you’re going to be talking about. There’s going to be some fundamentals on all of your content that you’re going to be able to link back to. So why not leverage those? You know? Maybe it does … And I think a lot of people, what happens is they kind of take some of that basic information as a given. Right? But if I’ve got a resource page that’s applicable that, you know, gotchas for tax law in a merger situation, you’ve probably already got a resource page on your site that speaks to that. So why are you going to then assume that somebody reading your blog post already knows about it, so, you know, skip the link?

Jay Baron: Yep. You can lead people down the same journey they’re on now. So if it’s an early stage, lead them to more early stage content. But you can also encourage people to start to go deeper, to go to your services pages. Do that interlinking and stuff like that. So it’s really important. And it doesn’t always have to be, yes, internal links to your own content, but it could be external links going to other pieces of content as well, which is really important if you can’t cover at topic in depth.

Rusty Hall: And that’s a good one, too, because even if you do have some great statistics or something like that, a chart that you want to show that maybe you’ve borrowed from another topic, yeah, do some outbound links on that. Be able to link to further resources, because then people are going to know that even if they don’t get all the answers on yours, they’re going to go ahead and get the additional path to find out more.

Jay Baron: Yeah. And I think lastly, then, so you’re structuring your blog post, you have this keyword-focused header, that’s number one. You have a featured image up top. You have that great lead-in, which starts to solve that search’s inquiry. The rest of the content starts to really solve additional searcher intent, I think, and also maybe answers the question more deeply. Then, you can start adding those compelling graphics and visuals throughout the article, which is going to be really important, internal links throughout the pieces of content, and then lastly, follow it up with a solid call to action at the bottom, or it’s in the side. But a lot of firms don’t do this as well. This is where you can look at, “Hey, do we have a nice piece of content we can send people to? Is there a newsletter that we can send them to?” Which is going to be, most of the time, the newsletter’s going to be the most relevant call to action. But there’s definitely times where you’ve just got to be more strategic and think, “What’s the solid call to action here that we want to send people to?”

It could be even comments. Maybe you do have a very good following on your blog and you want people to comment and things like that. That’s another call to action, potentially.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, comments is a good one, too. Because people don’t think about that as a call to action, necessarily, all the time. But in some cases, I’ve seen some of the best interactions, if you’ve got somebody that’s, like, a really engaged subject matter expert or something like that. Leave that comment field in play and ask for, “What didn’t we cover? What additional questions do you have?” And people can kind of use that as a forum to ask additional questions around that topic.

Jay Baron: Yeah. No, that’s great. So, I mean, what we’ve done is we’ve said, “Okay, answer these questions to make sure you’re creating the right piece of content. Now, what does that piece of content look like? How can you structure it?” And then we really need to start going into, “Okay, what type of content is successful for firms?” I think a lot of firms are like, “You know what? Jay, I’m doing all of this and I’m still not gaining any traction.” And I think this is where this next section kind of comes into play, is they’re just not either creating the right type of content. I see a lot of firms that are creating, like I said, the tax updates. We’ve mentioned that a lot. Tax updates and things like that.

What’s interesting when you think about it is, who’s probably searching around tax updates more than anybody else? It’s probably accounting firms-

Rusty Hall: Other firms looking for blog content.

Jay Baron: Yes. Yeah, so they’re literally creating blog content for their competition and not through [inaudible 00:19:05]. Yes, there’s some CFOs that are maybe searching around a tax … But I guarantee you, by in large, those people are not using Google, and they’re not using your website. The most people looking at tax updates are accounting firms. And the tax updates were great for clients to send them, but beyond that, there actually isn’t much value there. And I think this is where we can kind of help people out, because, I’m sorry, you’re creating that tax update, it’s already been created. You’re not the first. I guarantee there’s a state website or somebody’s already created the content, it’s already been created. And like I said, most people looking for that type of stuff are accounting firms.

So why don’t we kind of cover what type of contents are successful. I think first is … Man, it is a loud day here at the bar again.

Rusty Hall: You know what? At our usual pub, we sit in the back room. Right? So the people have a visual. We’re back behind the dartboards and the bookcases usually, and nobody comes back here. But today I guess it’s the popular place to be.

Jay Baron: Two podcasts in a row now. The last one was the same thing, just in and out. Maybe we’ve got to find a new joint. I don’t know. So I think first is, okay, the type of contents for success, is first, you really need to have a piece of content that’s either brand new, or first on a topic, extremely tough to do these days.

Rusty Hall: Tough, yeah.

Jay Baron: But I think we talked about this a few podcasts ago, it would be, like cryptocurrency is a great example. Had you wrote about cryptocurrency six, seven years ago, and you wrote blog posts on it, like, that blog post is probably killing it today. You’re probably gaining tons of traction. You were the first one out there. You created this great piece of content. And that’s the type of stuff you have to be doing before.

If you actually wanted to do a tax post, you probably should have done a tax post before Trump even announced his tax reform. Had you done that, you would have been first to the gate. You probably would have a great blog post that came out. But that’s where we mean, where the type of content [inaudible 00:21:00], it has to either be brand new, or first on the topic, or it already exists. There’s hundreds of posts out there. You’re not creating value.

Rusty Hall: It’s hard to really capitalize on those, too, because it demands so much resource, right? You almost have to have somebody or a team of people who are actually forecasting, looking for what the next things are going to be.

Jay Baron: Firms are too slow to do this, honestly.

Rusty Hall: I agree. I agree. I think it’s, you know, you’re always going to get scooped because there’s agencies out there, that this is all they do. Right? Is try to … first to break.

Jay Baron: Yeah. Those big firms, yeah. They’re hiring the agencies to do this stuff right away. It’s tough. If you can do it, great. It’s a great option to have a successful blog post. It’s just difficult to pull off.

Rusty Hall: So if we say that, okay, this is a difficult thing to pull off. Right? And we all kind of agreed for the reasons that we’ve just mentioned, like, what’s the next angle that you might look at?

Jay Baron: Yeah. You know, so the next thing could be, like, most recent or recently updated. So maybe there’s some blog posts out there on a topic that are three, four, five years old, you know, and they’re not updated. So you could actually create a blog post and have the most recent, updated, fresh version. And those perform really well. And there’s a lot of opportunities around that type of content right now, that that can really work.

Rusty Hall: Oh, that’s true. And you’ve also kind of got a track record of success with that, right? If it was a great pertinent topic then, an update of it would, you know, assumingly, that you do it correctly, would be very relevant today. Right? So that’s kind of a great source to go back and look for. Along with that, what about, like, a different spin on it? So maybe take a topic that was posted in the past and then maybe kind of repackage it in a different light?

Jay Baron: Yeah. So, I mean, another example then, yeah, you’ve created this content, maybe you’ve package it different. Maybe everybody else did a blog post. You take that piece of content, you turn it into an infographic. Maybe you do it as a video to actually gain some traction around it, or a webinar is a good example.

Rusty Hall: Podcast.

Jay Baron: No, that’s exactly right. So again, it’s already been done. The topic’s already over done. This is what a lot of firms are doing. “Oh, there’s already 10,000 blog posts about it. I’m going to write another one.” We’re trying to say you can’t do that. You have to find a different way, or you’re wasting your time and your money. So can you package it different? Like, “Hey, you know, there’s a lot of blog posts about this, but nobody’s really doing it in a really consumable infographic, so let’s do that. Let’s do it as a video, let’s do it as a podcast; a different form of media that’s just packaged differently than everything else that exists right now out there.

Or maybe it’s … something that’s really popular is multi-page blog posts, so maybe you can cover it really in depth and do multiple pages on it. That’s really popular and has great SEO value right now.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, and we’ve kind of touched on this before, but I think, you know, one of the things, as people become kind of beholden to the content calendar, right? And it’s like, “Well, we just know that we have to do this many blog posts in this cadence, and even if it’s light, or not innovative, at least we can check the box that we did our blog posts.” So I feel like that kind of drives … it creates a lot of pressure for people to put out content without actually thinking about why.

Jay Baron: Oh, yeah. I mean, I worked at a firm and eventually the managing partner or the CEO was like, “We’re going to pay our firm leaders to write blog posts.” And the intent is great, but it’s really just going to … they’re creating content to hit an arbitrary number. “You have to do two blog posts a month.” “Fine. I’m going to create my two blog posts,” versus focusing on the quality, creating content that actually gets results and things like that.

Rusty Hall: It’s funny that you mention that, because I actually worked in a firm that had the same approach. Right? But in their case they were generally handled contracts by independent consultants. And part of their consulting hours was to develop X number of blog posts that you had to include on your billable hours. You know, it was kind of, regardless of their writing ability, it was included as part of the contract. So it’s like, man, you end up with a lot of stuff in the scrap heap when you should just be doubling down on your guys that are writing you gold. Which is subjective in some cases, but I think the true writers kind of bubble to the top.

Jay Baron: Right. Agreed. Agreed. So I think also we can talk about, you know, another kind of successful post is, can you go more in depth? So maybe a topic’s covered, you’re looking and your firm’s doing research, “Okay, you know, this topic’s been covered a lot, but no one’s really doing it in depth. No one has that definitive guide to this topic. We can take this topic and we can cover it substantially more in depth, write a lot more value and a lot more meat.” You might have a successful blog post there then, that can really outshine all the other pieces of content out there.

Rusty Hall: Well, and that’s where you’ve got to be really aware of your subject matter experts and the people who are going to be experts in that, because you might not mandate that everybody does a blog post every time. You might just take one of your subject matter experts who’s really knowledgeable on that specific topic and just have them do a really in-dept post for you, like you’re talking about, so that you’re not ending up with an array, like, 10 blog posts. You may just end up with the one that you’ve concentrated a lot of resources in. But because it’s going to be unique, because it’s going to be in depth, you’re going to get more traction out of that than you would 10 fluffy blog posts.

Jay Baron: Yep. Yeah, I mean, in dept is something a lot of firms kind of don’t do very well. I think most of them are lucky if it’s a 300-word blog post. When we’re talking in depth, we’re talking 2,000, 3,000. I just wrote a blog post that was 5,000 words the other day. So those are the in depth pieces of content that can do really well if you put the effort into them.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, and they are resource intensive, right? It requires a lot of research to pull all of that together. But at the same time, like, is it really any more resource intensive than spinning your wheels creating a bunch of light content? Not really.

Jay Baron: And imagine if the content actually performs. This is where a lot of firms struggle. And that’s what we’re talking about here, guys. We’re talking about, “What does a successful blog post … What do you need to do? What questions? How do you structure it? And what types of content does it need to actually be successful?” And the last, really, piece for a type of content you can do or how to structure a blog post would be having a unique approach. So maybe there’s already 100 blog posts that talk about it. But do you have a different angle on that topic that nobody else is talking about? Do you have a unique approach to it, a unique thought around that, around that searcher’s intent? That’s another option for a very successful blog post. You’re answering it in a way nobody else is.

Rusty Hall: See? And there’s another good example of where you can take examples of other blog posts, kind of put it out there to your brain trusts, or your experts who are within your own firm, and say, “Hey, you guys had a unique take on this. Is there something missing? Is there a question that’s unanswered here?” Can you get folks to weigh in on, “Man, they really missed the boat on a specific piece that we can cover and can be unique to us.”

Jay Baron: Yep. Agreed. Agreed. So why don’t you kind of fill me in here on this next piece that you want to kind of cover? So we kind of … we do all of these in one take. So far we’ve done them all in one take. And I had an outline together. And now Rusty here just decides to add a bunch of stuff as I’m looking through my outline. So I’m going to let him drive here for the second half, and we’ll see how this goes.

Rusty Hall: I like to wait until Jay’s actually on a webinar that he can’t get off of before I start updating his outline for these things.

Rusty Hall: For those of you who can’t see the one more, this is the Four Bullets Irish Red Ale. It’s really top-notch. I’ve got to have another one before I launch into this half of the podcast. So anyway, so I did. I came in here and I updated after Jay had already kind of looked at the outline and put it together. And I thought of some of the questions that I, as somebody who have been responsible for creating content and kind of, “Hey, you’re the marketing guy. You’re the lead engagement guy. We need blog posts. Go find them.” Right? Well, I can’t write them on our own, because one of the biggest mistakes that you make is letting marketing folks write your blog posts specifically. Now, that’s not to say that every marketing person is going to waste your time blog posting, but for the most part the marketing guys already have kind of a spin that they’re already going to put out there. It’s going to sound like a marketing guy has already wrote that blog post.

So that’s when you start looking within on your internal teams and who you’ve got. We talked a little bit about where do you find writers. And we said the consulting thing. You can’t include that as part of their own internal … their billable hours. Right? You’re not going to force people to write blog posts. But generally, you’ll have some people who are pretty passionate about topics, if you just kind of start the conversations. And a lot of times, this is some of your sellers. If you’re the kind of firm that has some people dedicated to selling and business development, those are the guys that are reading all the current topics. They’re probably already tuned in to a lot of the blogging and content that’s out there.

Jay Baron: They know your prospect’s pain points, hopefully.

Rusty Hall: Exactly. And so they-

Jay Baron: I mean, they’re talking to them, hopefully.

Rusty Hall: Yeah, let’s hope. Let’s hope so. So you could really tap some of those guys and see, you know, “What kind of conversations are you having with our current prospects and what are their concerns? What are they worried about?” And that’s not only a good place to kind of develop topics, but, you know, some of the sellers become really knowledgeable in that and are able to develop out some great blog posts. And again, you’ve got to let them know that they’ve got the eye of marketing and editing to kind of filter all that through. But just create the content and then you can kind of tailor it. So I think that’s a good source, a good place to start looking.

Then, also, your technical folks. So if you’ve got a tax expert that’s on board with you that’s specifically tied into changes of tax law, a lot of the times those guys are not going to speak up unless you prompt them. And you’re going to say, “Look, we need some uniquely targeted content. You’ve got the inside information because you’re living, breathing this every day.”

Jay Baron: Sometimes the busybodies actually have a really good voice and they create really good content. They just need an opportunity to actually showcase that they can do it.

Rusty Hall: It’s because nobody ever asks. Right? It’s because the call comes down from, “Hey, marketing content guy, let’s create some content.” And then I see this happens a lot of the time, is, “Oh, great. We need blog post content. Let’s go hire an agency.” Right?

Jay Baron: Right.

Rusty Hall: And there’s nothing wrong with tapping an agency, but-

Jay Baron: Actually, let’s go into that a little bit, because I do think the agency model is actually great for a lot of firms. Because, to be honest, a lot of firms, they don’t have the time. They’re not going to honestly invest the time. They want a done-for-them approach. And I mean this honestly. A lot of firms want a done-for-them approach. The biggest issue firms are running into is they think it’s cheap. They think great content is cheap. They’re like, “Whoa, $500 for a blog post? Are you crazy?” Like, “No, that’s actually … for a good blog post, that’s actually really cheap.” I mean, you should be investing, you know, if you really want to spend the time to create good content, easily could be investing $2,000 to $5,000 a month, depending on the level of your firm and how much content you need to be creating, to really create that good content.

So, yes, working with an agency or a marketing consultant to help you create the content … And that’s what we really focus on, is, “Do you want a done-for-you approach? Or do you want to do the work and you just need help?” Most firms do want that done-for-you approach, but they think it’s easy and cheap. And, unfortunately, that’s where the imbalance is right now for a lot of these firms. They’re like, “Holy shit! I’ve got to spend $2,000 a month for some blog content?” Like, “Yeah. That’s literally what you have to spend a month to start creating good blog content.”

Rusty Hall: Yeah, and that’s not … They look at the words on the page. Right? You think, “Oh, okay. It’s a blog post and it’s one page.” Right? But it’s all of these things that we’ve been talking about that it takes into account. And that’s where having a good relationship with an agency is, like, the key to the whole success of it. Right? It is time consuming to develop a blog post that has all these key features that we’ve talked about. And it’s-

Jay Baron: I can tell you, if you’re spending less than $300 per blog post, it’s going to be shit.

Rusty Hall: You’re just hiring a ghostwriter at that point. You’re just hiring a writer. It’s not a-

Jay Baron: They’re literally, everything we’ve talked about, you might as well throw it out the window. You know what they’re doing? They’re Googling, they’re copying everybody else’s blog posts, and then reworking them into your blog post.

Rusty Hall: And giving it to you.

Jay Baron: So you basically have what everybody else has already said, and you’ve already … everything we’ve talked about is already out the window.

Rusty Hall: I mean, this is a difference, too, in just going out and buying a blog post and trying to build a strategy. You don’t want to go out and just buy a blog post. Right? Because that’s just going to go up on your website, nobody’s going to read it, it’s not going to be engaging or deliver the results you want. But if you’re going out and finding somebody that’s going to be a strategy partner and help you leverage that for the goals that we’ve kind of outlined here for all stages of your buyer’s journey, that’s demand-gen all the way through getting people to a consultation. If you’ve got somebody that’s thinking strategy, that’s when an agency can really come in and help.

Jay Baron: Yep. No, agreed. Yeah. You definitely need to build that strategy. Unfortunately, a lot of firms start at the execution mindset. So, I mean, there’s the agency model. I think the other thing is the firm leaders. Like, they should be invested in helping create great content. It doesn’t mean they have to be writing it all. But if they can be available for a subject matter expertise to get interviews to really get that thought leadership they have in their brain and turn that into content. They have to be a part of that process.

Rusty Hall: And you and I have been doing this for a long time, and you know as well as I do, well, everybody who has, how much better a piece that’s from the CEO or the founder performs than somebody that’s been hired to write the piece, or if it’s not a known name in your firm or something like that. You can put out a piece by your founder, CEO, CMO, somebody like that, who really has kind of the name recognition and the title recognition, quite frankly, and those things always tend to perform really well, because people are wanting to read that kind of deep thought expertise.

Jay Baron: Yeah, people want this fairy dust of content. It doesn’t exist, unfortunately. It’s a lot of work to do it right. It’s expensive. It takes time. But if you follow this, it’s going to work. You have to try to find those great writers in your firm, those people with deep expertise. Or, you need to really make a proper investment into really good content.

Rusty Hall: And it does, like, you know, on the surface we’re talking about all of this stuff and it seems like, “Gosh, that does seem like a lot of exhausting work.” But it’s really not any more exhausting than creating a bunch of content that doesn’t perform. You know? At the end of the day, it’s probably less work than just trying to bombard it and win by volume.

Jay Baron: Yep. Yeah, so I know, I mean, we’re coming up … we’ve been on this podcast for 35 minutes already, man.

Rusty Hall: I’ve already had, like, three beers.

Jay Baron: I know. I know. So I think this is actually just a … this is a really great introduction to what does a successful blog post look like, and then also, how can you start executing on that blog post. I mean, we’ve covered a lot of different things in this. Again, what questions do you ask? Think about that searcher’s intent, then think about your business objectives, and really focus on limiting that bounce rate, I think. I mean, that’s number one. And then you can really get into, “Okay, how do I structure that blog post, get that keyword-rich headline, get that featured image, think about that lead in?” And really follow that outline we kind of mapped out earlier. Then, really think about, “Okay, what is a successful piece of content?” You can’t create everything that’s already been existed out there. You have to have a brand new idea. You have to package it differently. It has to be more in depth, or you have to have something that’s more recent and updated than everything else. You can’t just spit out content to really have a successful blog post anymore.

Rusty Hall: Yeah. And where do you find the people to write for this? Where are you going to find the people that are going to weigh in and actually be experts on the topics and have that unique approach to it?

Jay Baron: Maybe a better way to think about it is, I mean, what we’ve talked about is … And this is the thing. Every firm right now, for the most part, they’re doing great content. Like, they’re creating great content. Or they’re creating good content, I’d say. But the problem is, that’s not enough anymore. You have to follow all this and do it, and you have to create a piece of content that’s actually going to build you for success, because just blogging every month and saying, “Hey, you know that’s a really great post we made,” but nothing’s happening. Like, that’s the problem. Great content just isn’t enough anymore.

Rusty Hall: Yep. Volume is no longer a valid metric for measuring your blog performance.

Jay Baron: Yep. Awesome. Well, I think that kind of sums it up here. And we’re always available, guys, for you to reach out. We do still have that marketing assessment. We can kind of dive into your content, we can kind of see what’s going on and give you guys some actionable recommendations. As I said, that’s free. We just do that as a quick 30-minute marketing assessment. We can do a quick audit and kind of see how you’re doing. But on the next podcast, I think … What, are we going to do a recap then on the next podcast?

Rusty Hall: Yeah, I think we’re finally going to get to the recap on the next podcast, which will kind of encompass everything that we’ve talked about for this first season of Marketing First and all the way up through our blog post episode here.

Jay Baron: Awesome. This has been great. I had a lot of fun today, actually.

Rusty Hall: I always have a lot of fun, Jay.

Jay Baron: All right.

Rusty Hall: All right.

Jay Baron: Later, everybody.

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