By Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk
I can’t tell you the times I’ve heard an accountant or attorney bemoan the fact that their firm isn’t well known in the market. When they mention their employer at a cocktail party, they are met with a blank stare, just another string of last names. I’ve had partners look at me in wonder and ask, “Why does XYZ Firm gets so much media coverage?”
While there’s no foolproof formula, one of the most effective ways for professional service providers to increase awareness for themselves, and for their firms, is through article writing. The benefits are numerous, and here are just a few.
- Allows you to define your niche and advise those within it. You should always have a niche, or a few, and writing articles for publications that specifically target your niche is a great way to reach your audiences. Do you specialize in providing services for the construction industry? Are bankers your best clients? Figure out what they are reading, both in print and online. Not sure? Ask them. Then start writing for those outlets. Make sure the content is pertinent, interesting and NOT a sales pitch for your services. Share a case study, offer advice to help them stay out of trouble, explain some recent legislation. The possibilities are endless.
- Establishes your firm as an expert in your field. There is no better way to be seen as an expert in your industry than to author articles for respected publications. When readers repeatedly see your name attached to valuable information, they will want to know more about you, your firm and your services. Reporters will also start calling you for input and quotes on stories they are writing, which will further expand your reach.
- Provides valuable content for trade publications and Websites. Many trade publications have had to cut their writing staff and now depend on outside content to fill out their editorial calendar. They won’t print just anything, but a well-written, pertinent article is usually welcomed with open arms. It gives them the content they need and gives you exposure to their readers.
But don’t think of an article solely as content for outside publications. Once written, you can use articles in a variety of ways, including:
- Sales Collateral: Create a PDF of your article and send it to prospects and clients. These make fantastic follow-up materials after prospect meetings, and can help you introduce a new service offering to current or prospective clients.
- Post to your Website: Many firms are always looking for ways to keep their Website content fresh and “sticky.” Posting new articles on a regular basis is a great way to do this. It will establish you and your firm as experts with your market and keep site visitors coming back to see what’s new and pertinent to them. Regular updates will bump up your search engine optimization as well.
- Newsletter content: Many professional service providers send out regular newsletters to their clients and friends of the firm, but are frequently stuck wondering what to include in the current issue. Include your latest article, with reference to any publications that have printed it. Or include the first few paragraphs of the article itself, and then provide a link so your readers can see the rest online.
- Social Media links: Once your article is posted on your site, use your social media tools to let people know it’s up. Tweet about it on Twitter, include it on your status on LinkedIn and Facebook. You’d be surprised how much traffic this can drive to your site with minimal effort. And if it’s interesting to your followers, they are likely to repost it, exposing you to an entirely new group of readers.
I can hear you now. “I don’t have time to write articles,” or, “I can’t take time away from client work to do this sort of thing.” And I agree, you shouldn’t. But this is where a talented ghostwriter can save the day. Before you go hire your nephew, the English major, consider this. Working with an experienced writer – ideally one that knows your industry inside and out – will make this process much easier. He or she will ask the right questions to ensure the first draft is on target. A good writer will research the publications where you want to submit your article, and write in the style and language that they want. Working with someone with skills and experience will make the entire process smoother, quicker, and ultimately, more valuable for you.
So think about it. If your article helps you meet or retain just one client, it has more than paid for itself. And even if it doesn’t the first time around, it will increase awareness for you and your firm, to the RIGHT audiences, which will provide return to you over the long haul.
So, what were those excuses again?