Most serious professional service companies create large amounts of great content, but that is not the same as having a great content strategy.
A content strategy should:
– Differentiate itself and cut through the ever-growing ocean of competitor content.
– Help the business fulfil its vision.
– Remove barriers to engagement (how many people want to be seen to be sharing commercial content from a law firm on Facebook, for example?).
– Provide compelling stories that bring out the human dimension of their brand.
Needless to say, these aren’t easy to find, but they do exist.
Mishcon De Reya – Business Shapers
It is no coincidence that the greatest content marketing strategy in law (perhaps in professional services) happens to be from one of the fastest growing law firms in the UK. A firm that has more than doubled in size over the past 8 years.
Much of this is thanks to their Director of Business Development, Elliot Moss. As the former Managing Director of creative agency, Leagues Delaney, Elliot joined Mishcon in 2010 and it wasn’t long before he’d made his mark on the industry, in 2012 becoming the first non-solicitor to be included in the FT’s 10 Most Innovative Individuals in the Legal Sector. Since that time he has helped his firm win just about every award going for marketing and communications.
How has he done it? Mishcon work with high net worth individuals and companies, so early on Elliot launched a sub-brand called Business Shapers through which he interviewed entrepreneurs challenging and redefining their markets. This interview model is something a number of professional service companies are now doing, as we’ll see below, but when Elliot began this kind of influencer marketing was virtually non-existent in B2B.
Most brilliantly of all, Elliot secured a Saturday slot on Jazz FM in which he interviews these entrepreneurs whilst playing their favourite Jazz songs. This show is known as Jazz Shapers and it plays everywhere his audience is active.
Taylor Vinters – Zebra Project
Like Mishcon De Reya, Taylor Vinters have a crystal clear sense of their audience, largely thanks to the leadership of Ed Turner. Their market is tech entrepreneurs, so they’ve opened offices in the UK’s technology hotspots – Cambridge, Oxford and London – whilst establishing close relationships with each of the Universities. If you’re a law student in one of these markets but want to go into a firm where you can be close to entrepreneurship and technology, Taylor Vinters is the obvious path.
As part of this they launched The Zebra Project, a content strategy that celebrates remarkable people doing remarkable things via interviews, events, podcasts, social channels and webinars. The great thing about this kind of sub-brand, as with Business Shapers, is that you strip away much of the baggage associated with a law firm, making it far more likely that your audience will engage.
An example of the awesome content shared by The Zebra Project
Juro are on a mission to “make legal more human, one contract at a time”, and their blog certainly plays its role in driving that vision.
Everything about the blog is spot on. It strips out the main commercial navigation and replaces it with one focused on maximising engagement with the content. It features interviews with thought leaders, including CEO’s of some major tech brands and strikes a perfect balance between sales messaging and UX. Every last detail of both the content and the formatting is immaculate and a great example of how sub-brands (as much as I love them for this kind of initiative) aren’t always essential if you get all the other details just right. The only question is whether they might contain the blog within the domain rather than as a sub domain, in order to aid their broader SEO.
Pincent Masons – Outlaw
This content strategy makes the list for no other reason than the fact it has the best sub-brand name in the industry – Outlaw.
Flinder is a data-driven accountancy firm, with a reputation for doing things differently. A trait that’s evident in their marketing, with the blog featuring regular podcasts by the companies CEO, Alastair Barlow, in which he takes a deep dive into topical financial and strategic issues.
Perhaps what’s most impressive, however, about the Flinder content strategy, is the thought they’ve given to the audience on each social platform. So while the blog and LinkedIn may be focused on their customer audience, their Instagram page is built very much with their employees (both current and prospective) in mind, as they use it to showcase the company culture and employee experience.
Smith & Williamson – The Pulse
Like Flinder, Smith & Williamson have a podcast series. This time under a sub-brand – The Pulse.
Within the podcasts they interview entrepreneurs and other subject matter experts. The content is fantastic and the sub-brand helps remove some of the barriers of the parent brand. However, the podcasts are still housed in a very conventional blog within the overall site, including all the standard commercial navigation.
RSM’s The Loop is another example of this. The advantage is that any positive brand associations from sub-brand to brand are stronger, and all SEO benefits are directly felt by the parent domain, but I would guess that the engagement is limited as a consequence.
Mazars have a range of beautiful blogs, such as this one on Financial Services.
From a design and UX perspective, it’s fantastic, but I would argue the use of a sub domain is questionable. It connects the blog closely to the Mazars brand which is likely to limit engagement, but there are no real SEO benefits passed (as sub domains are treated completely separately by Google), so it’s failing to fully capitalise on the benefits of either option.
Wilson Partners – Thinking Business
Wilson Partners are a small firm with a focus on entrepreneurial businesses in the South East. They’re also (full disclosure) a long term client.
Their strapline is “Thinking Business”, so we decided to use that as the content sub-brand, to aid the connection between the two. Given the importance of SEO to Wilson Partners, we decided to house it on the parent domain, but completely changed the navigation to focus on content engagement.
This simple approach has enabled the company to punch well above its weight, both in terms of content engagement and search engine performance.
HR & Recruitment
The human resources firm Mercer have perhaps the best Coronavirus content strategy that I’ve found in any market, going to huge effort to reassure their audience by demonstrating their insight into the pandemic.
The content is rich and thorough, and a huge amount of thought has gone into the UX. Meanwhile their Facebook page – Mercer Insights – is a great example of how a professional service firm can contain their content under their parent brand whilst still developing content entirely on the terms of their audience.
Propel – Digital Nation:
In the recruitment industry, there is a huge opportunity with influencer marketing for 2 reasons:
– Companies can use the interviews as a means of opening doors with potential decision makers
– They already have an existing team of outreach specialists
Propel are an example of exactly how this can work, running a simple content strategy that captures insight from some really high profile figures within their target market. Such a powerful initiative for opening doors, expanding their network and creating new opportunities. A similar strategy can be seen with Silicone Roundabout.
T-Impact – Transformation Network
I’m going to finish with another client, for no other reason than I’m really proud of the work we’ve done and would quite like to brag about it. The Transformation Network began as a content sub-brand for T-Impact that interviewed high profile figures within their target markets, principally the legal sector. By taking this approach we not only captured awesome content and elevated the T-Impact brand, but also used it to aid our direct response lead gen campaign rather than running it under the parent brand – Cost Per Acquisition dropped by 80%!
However, we felt we could take it even further, so we began running monthly events with CEO’s and Managing Partners of top law firms, leading to hours of awesome BD time for our client whilst also capturing further great insight and offering a fantastic time to the attendees.
Sadly, due to the pandemic the events are now on hold, but The Transformation Network is now an established and credible brand with a highly engaged database and huge commercial potential. All while driving the client’s long term vision of positively transforming their target markets. In other words, everything a great content marketing strategy should do.
An example of the content created and shared by The Transformation Network