Content Marketing for Consultants
Content Marketing for Consultants
Updated Dec 12, 2022
Ideas are a consultant’s bread and butter — and content marketing is the perfect vehicle for sharing those ideas with clients. Effective content marketing for consultants raises awareness of your firm’s brand, builds trust with prospects, and solidifies your client relationships.
Consulting firms are well-positioned to reap the benefits of an effective content strategy. Potential clients will begin associating your firm with the thinking they need to solve their most pressing business problems. The challenge is creating a strategy and organizing the resources necessary for consistent, relevant and superb content.
Content marketing empowers consultants to expand their reach and drive better business results. Learn why content marketing matters and how to create a strategy that brings your most ambitious goals to life.
Why Content Marketing Matters for Management Consultants
For consulting firms, your expertise is your product — and accessible, well-crafted content is the best way to showcase that expertise at scale. Your content can help demonstrate why potential clients should pay for your services and your ideas over those of any other consulting firm.
Successful consulting firms combine the power of expertise with positive relationships, and content marketing is one of the most effective ways to bring them together. They create opportunities for prospects to form a positive perception and start to trust you before they ever even pick up the phone.
And that’s essential for today’s buyer: The TrustRadius 2022 B2B Buying Disconnect report found that 100% of tech buyers expect to self-serve at least part of their buying experience. And while that survey focused on tech, there’s little reason to think the generations that expect to buy everything on Amazon will expect any different from their B2B services.
2 Key Elements of a Content Marketing Strategy for Consultants
The best content marketing for consultants aligns with the firm’s values, addresses their ideal client and focuses on channels where that perfect buyer already spends their time. These three elements are essential components of your content marketing strategy.
Your Content Value Proposition
Your organization’s value proposition succinctly captures how your firm’s services create value.
What for Whom
Your content value proposition (CVP) echoes your business value prop by applying that same differentiation to your content.
How is your content going to create value? For whom.
Without that fundamental alignment, creating content that makes a difference in your sales cycle will always be a struggle.
If you’re wondering how you’d stack up, consider this:
If someone copied your “thought leadership” content and pasted it on a competitor’s website, could anyone tell the difference?
If the answer is no, it’s time to work on that CVP.
A Meaningful Plan to Promote Your Content
It won’t matter how amazing your content is if you don’t put serious, sustained effort into promoting it.
And organic social will rarely be enough to meaningfully move the needle for a consulting firm. Hope is not a strategy, and if your B2B content goes “viral,” it will almost certainly be for the wrong reason.
Paid promotion supplements your organic promotion, significantly increasing the odds that your buyer actually sees your content.
For each major piece of content you produce, plan out your complete promotion campaign cycle for six months, including organic social, paid advertising, email marketing and PR. Adjust your investment in time and dollars relative to the asset’s business value. I.e., a big benchmark report should get more attention than a one-off blog post.
3 Types of Content Strategy for Consultants
Content strategies for consulting firms can take many forms. An ideal strategy to reach your target audience may include several approaches.
When it comes to content marketing for consultants, thought leadership is often the only strategy you need. We define thought leadership as content that adds to the larger conversation happening in your industry. It doesn’t repeat someone else’s greatest hits or reproduce ideas that you’ve already published. Thought leadership provides new ideas, new ways of looking at old problems or predictions on the future of the industry.
Thought leadership stakes your claim as an expert in your industry.
The challenge is that your thoughts must truly show leadership — offering original ideas presented in memorable ways that add to the broader conversation in your area of expertise. The task can seem monumental because it is. Be original, thought-provoking and distinctive.
The good news is that your consultants are probably generating plenty of them in the course of their work. You just don’t realize it. They’re coming out every day in your pitches for new business, your client meetings and your internal chats with junior consultants.
Your clients are a never-ending source of ideas. If they’re coming to you with questions about scaling up or improving diversity, equity and inclusion, for example, chances are your prospects have the same questions. Creating content to answer the most frequently asked questions can drive organic traffic to your site and showcase your expertise.
Search queries and search volume can also be a source of inspiration. Knowing what your target audience is curious about can help you develop content that resonates.
As a consulting firm, you have some of the sharpest minds and credible figures at your disposal. Give your consultants a chance to develop and share their ideas and expertise. Highlight individual consultants on your website and social channels.
Content that comes from people with a demonstrated history of expertise has a better chance of driving relationships than content that comes from a faceless brand.
Your thought leadership content should offer actionable insights and solutions. You might address the same topics as your competitors, but ensure you aren’t giving the same advice or answers. If you can take your articles, videos or podcasts and drop them onto a competitor’s site without recognizing the difference, you haven’t created thought leadership.
Thought leadership brings something new to the conversation, inviting participation, discussion and collaboration.
Thought leadership can’t drive business results if targets aren’t seeing what you’ve produced. An SEO strategy is a powerful way to share information with your audience when they need it most.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a broad umbrella term for the steps you need to take to ensure your content can be found through organic search results on common search engines such as Google. You can use keyword research to identify terms your target audience is looking for and the questions they want answered. That influences your content strategy and how you shape content that answers those questions.
The basic SEO formula is pretty simple, but several factors complicate the execution. Search algorithms, for example, are constantly changing. Google’s algorithm, which learns from search patterns and user behaviors, prioritizes content with strong expertise, high authority and trustworthiness.
Crawlable long-form content is the most reliable way to please this algorithm. Consulting firms can exercise their domain expertise in a lengthy article or blog post, and attaching that content to a specific consultant or thought leader builds authority and evokes trust.
Short-form content can rank, too, but the algorithm will likely overlook anything less than a few hundred words. Gated content, like downloadable white papers or webinars, can’t be crawled as easily, but you can build a landing page with enough content to be found through organic search. And don’t forget about other forms of content with SEO potential, such as video, that can expand your potential target audience and overall reach.
ABM and Demand Gen Content for Consultants
Marketers for consultants are often under pressure to produce a steady source of leads for the business. But much as B2B technology marketers have shifted away from “lead gen” models, innovative services businesses have, too. Its replacements: “Demand gen” and “account-based marketing.”
These two distinct but often overlapping strategies shift marketing’s focus away from handing over contacts for salespeople to pester for meetings toward a model that focuses on building relationships with the most valuable accounts and working with sales to accelerate their time to close.
Content is key to both demand gen and ABM. Before you can sell someone your consulting services, you have to sell an idea: Why do they need your service in the first place?
Content helps you educate your target audience, so they understand how you create value and seek you out, producing a sustainable inbound marketing pipeline and shrinking the time to close.
Lead Gen vs. Demand Gen: Which Is Better for Consulting?
Engaging with a consultant requires a lot of trust. You may have to help your target buyer understand their problem before proposing your services to solve it. Demand generation nurtures the pipeline and systematically educates prospective customers.
Demand gen brings the customer to you, producing qualified leads with knowledge of what you offer, an understanding of how you might work together and some level of intent to enter an engagement. Demand gen is more customer-centric than lead gen and commits to creating content with the idea of supporting your consumer where they are.
You’ll see fewer “leads” under a demand gen model, but they’ll be higher quality. The content does the heavy lifting on the front end, making it easier for consultants and business development teams to close new deals.
To Gate or Not to Gate?
Gated content refers to content that’s available behind a contact form. Many people expect the worst when asked to provide personal information (nonstop spam calls, anyone?), so gating content can create a point of friction for folks who might otherwise be interested in learning more about you through your content.
If you’re asking for an email address, the piece of content you provide has to be worth it. Reports, proprietary insights and assessment results are appropriate to gate.
Long-form articles and blog posts should never be kept behind a gate. If you want to be found organically through search, you need that kind of high-quality, well-structured content published openly on your website for search engines to crawl.
The other content you never want to gate: your case studies. They’re usually too short to matter for SEO, but if a customer is starting to imagine how you’ll work together, you don’t want to create a barrier there!
10 Examples of Great Content Marketing for Consultants
Many consulting firms produce excellent content. Check out a few of our favorites for inspiration.
18 Coffees is a boutique consulting firm focused on driving strategic change in mission-driven organizations. Content is one of the firm’s three pillars, and its blog, Coffee Break, provides bite-sized insights readers can digest on a five-minute coffee break. With topics ranging from change management to tech innovation to social issues, Coffee Break informs readers on the latest trends while demonstrating the company’s expertise and insights.
Accenture’s Change Conversations Podcast
Accenture wants listeners of its Change Conversations podcast to be a little uncomfortable — because discomfort, podcast host Emmanuael Acho says, can bring about great things. The podcast tackles tough topics, from systemic barriers to success to the stigma surrounding mental health, to help listeners see them from a new perspective. The podcast offers deeper insights into these pressing topics while positioning Accenture as a change advocate.
Aon’s The One Brief Magazine
Aon’s in-house magazine, The One Brief, makes the global risk management firm’s expertise accessible to anyone, from business leaders implementing ESG standards to frontline employees worried about the safety of their personal information. The wealth of insights available through Aon’s brand magazine helps business and individuals navigate the many risks inherent in today’s economy and reinforce the breadth and depth of the firm’s collective knowledge.
Eagle Hill works on the frontlines of change, putting the latest innovations into practice — and documenting the results for others to learn from. Eagle Hill’s Living Labs site is full of case studies outlining process changes, results and what the company learned along the way. This educational content provides a clear example of what working with the firm might look like.
Gallup is the undisputed authority on employee engagement, and the firm backs up that reputation with its research content. Every three to five years, Gallup releases the world’s most comprehensive employee engagement meta-analysis report.
The latest report, from 2020, pulls together data from 100,000+ businesses/work units, more than 2.7 million employees and 54 industries to tease out the relationship between employee engagement and business outcomes. The report is available to anyone as a free download. Gallup atomizes the report into an impressive stream of multimedia assets — providing even more insights employers can use to improve engagement in their businesses.
Kearney’s Inside the Mind Podcast
Management consulting firm Kearney’s Consumer and Retail practice takes listeners inside the mind of consumers in this podcast that’s more “This American Life” than the usual business podcast. From CBD users to dog lovers to cosplayers, the Inside the Mind podcast reveals the thoughts and behaviors motivating consumers in niche markets. Folded into a broader thought leadership campaign, the content in this podcast provides unique value to retail businesses as they shape their business plans — while teasing the deeper value Kearney’s consumer practice can offer clients.
Digital transformation is a complex topic that affects every aspect of business today. Kin + Carta’s Thread Magazine approaches digital transformation from the lens of sustainability. The firm recently earned B-Corp certification, and Kin + Carta’s magazine content includes insights into what it means to be a responsible business in the age of digital transformation.
Work is evolving faster than ever, and the future of work has morphed into the “now” of work. Jason Averbook and Jess von Bank host the NOW of Work, a weekly interactive show that explores the emerging norms of the digital workplace and what they mean for your organization’s people, priorities and leadership.
Stacey Harris has been a driving force behind the HR Systems Survey for years. Now falling under the Sapient Insights umbrella, her research provides one-of-a-kind insights into the modern HR tech stack and processes.
Slalom Consulting hosts its brand magazine, Slalom Business, on Medium. The magazine covers topics from business transformation to privacy and governance, distributing the firm’s expertise in an approachable format. The content is tagged to individual Slalom consultants so that readers can get to know the people behind the firm.
Build Your Brand With Content Marketing for Consultants
Your content is the first experience most people will have with your brand, so make that experience count. Provide content with a purpose and a clear, differentiated value. Visitors to your site and your social channels should find only answers to pressing questions, yes, but also insights and takeaways they didn’t know they needed.
Anticipating your audience’s needs and providing solutions through accessible content builds a strong foundation of trust and will draw people back to your content time and time again until they’re ready to take the next step.
Thought Leaders Are Market Leaders.
Ready to see how content marketing can drive growth for your firm? Schedule a brief consultation and learn how our framework can help you:
- Develop your reputation for thought leadership.
- Fuel your account-based marketing and demand gen campaigns with differentiated content.
- Strengthen your employer branding by telling the stories of the people who power your company.