In an earlier article ("Are you content with your content?"), I wrote about the importance of having a content development process for your firm's web site, social media presence and other digital outlets. It's easy to get excited and want to jump into the deep end of the pool without a clear understanding of what lies ahead. Before taking that dive, you need to make a sober assessment of your firm's landscape and how to successfully navigate it.
While each firm is different, there are challenges common to that process, including finding a partner champion, recruiting interested authors, managing a production schedule, and quality control. For these reasons, it's essential to have a well-defined process.
But establishing and monitoring the content development process is only the beginning of the job, not the end. The reality is that even the best-laid plans often take time to come to fruition. Just think about how often your firm unveils a new program or process that ends up stalling and seemingly goes nowhere -- likely more often than you'd care to admit. To ensure that delays and missed deadlines don't stall your content-development program, it's essential to have alternate sources of content. Even if the program is running at an optimal pace, there can never be too much content for your Web site. So how do you find alternate sources for content? After all, if you're not an accounting professional, it's unlikely you can generate the content yourself.
Although it may seem like an impossible task, the outlook is not as dim as I have led you to believe. There are literally dozens of firms that successfully leverage alternate sources to attract and engage Web site visitors. What most don't realize is that they are sitting on a treasure trove of content. All they need to do is pick it up and find the right place to plug it into the site. To help make the connection, the following list includes content sources that most any firm can use.
ADDITIONAL CONTENT SOURCES
• Presentations. If a partner, manager or other staff in your firm has recently presented to a trade association or other group, you can use the presentation as fodder for the Web site. Presentations are an excellent source of content because all the hard work is already done. The only issue to be concerned about is where to add it on the site. If your firm is actively involved in delivering presentations, you may want to create a separate presentations page where you can provide a presentation summary with a link to the actual PowerPoint file. If such presentations are sporadic, then it might make sense to include it under resources or another similar area.
One firm that does an excellent job of maintaining a robust series of presentations is Tate & Tryon CPAs. They are a nonprofit-focused firm and present regularly to a wide variety of groups.
• Infographics. These data-packed graphic charts are an excellent way to present statistical or numbers-based data in an interesting, interactive way. Typically, infographics are used to break down complex information quickly and clearly. These graphics become a great catalyst for social media and sharing because they allow complicated information to be shared in an interesting and understandable way. At the very least, because it's visual, you can capture the attention of your site visitors.
One firm that successfully uses infographics is Seattle-based Peterson Sullivan. When redesigning their site, they used an infographic to give visitors an overview of their firm's history over the past 60 years. Additionally, infographics can be used to walk clients through complex tax situations or decisions.
• Video. Firms often forget that video can be a sizeable asset to their Web site content. Video can be optimized just like a Web page, so it can give you the same benefits as more traditional content sources. Video also allows your firm to create tutorials, short "episodes" on a specific topic, and evolve your overall content strategy.
Consider using Google+ Hangouts to record a chat between you and a client with questions. You can then post the video to your Web site, blog and social media platforms. This type of video will demonstrate your brand culture and personality to clients and prospects, as well as present information in a very conversational way. You can also use Google+ Hangouts to chat with other industry experts and really open a dialogue for your clients. Consider how a discussion between a tax advisor and lawyer about estate tax might reach your clients and prospects on a deeper level.
You don't need to have a specific section of your Web site dedicated to video content; you can embed videos into any relevant page. Videos are a great way to support text-e based content, and since many online visitors prefer video messaging to text-based messaging, it's a good idea to include both whenever possible.
• Archived articles. It's helpful to comb through your existing Web site content and older blog posts to see your archived articles. If you find one with content that is no longer up to date or relevant, simply updating these articles will provide new online content. You can also use existing content as a springboard for ideas to create new articles and blogs. If you wrote an article last year on 2012 tax deductions, it may remind you that a 2013 tax deductions article could be helpful for your clients and prospects.
Often, firms state that they don't have time to create new content, but updating existing content can be just as effective for keeping your Web site relevant and up to date. And marketing professionals can often update the content themselves with basic research and editing.
When selecting content for your Web site, it's important to use items that practically demonstrate how the firm positions itself. If the firm claims to have expertise in international business, then it makes sense to substantiate that with content. Perhaps the firm could provide a series of articles or lists of upcoming presentations on a hot international topic, along with checklists, blog posts, videos or whitepapers.
I have often worked with firms that claim expertise but then offer no thought leadership materials to validate the claim. While it's not essential to have a massive library of thought leadership around every service or industry group, it does make sense to try and have some supporting material for each.
Small steps in the right direction are progress. Keep that in mind as you begin to experiment with ways to identify alternate sources of content. In some cases, you may need to proactively lobby partners, managers and others to get access to some of the items mentioned. Start by engaging those who are most likely to help and work your way to the rest. Remember, it takes time -- so don't be disappointed if you don't have a "vault" of content after the first month!
Brian Swanson is a principal with Flashpoint Marketing, a marketing and lead-generation company focused on serving the accounting industry. He is certified by the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization in Internet marketing, and as an Advanced SEO Specialist. Reach him at (888) 428-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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