Having a solid content strategy brings a number of benefits to independent consultants. Here are the five types of content every consultant needs to utilize.
Jake Jorgovan of Content Allies shared these five types of content for consultants in a Webinar for the Umbrex community.
Before diving into the five types, he outlined just why content is such an important aspect for independent consultants — and why they avoid it.
In his experience, when people think of content as part of their strategy, they look at it as primarily a tool for attracting new leads and clients. While this is certainly true, Jorgovan says content strategy is far more powerful than that.
“The biggest value content has for most consultants is that it’s going to amplify your word-of-mouth and referrals — which is where most consultants have their business built.”
The value of content for consultants
Jorgovan shared the four major value points content provides consultants:
- It amplifies word-of-mouth and referrals.
- It increases trust and credibility so you can close more deals.
- It can lead to more work from existing accounts.
- It can attract new opportunities.
“The interesting thing is when you start putting out content, it’s not always the most measurable thing,” he says. “But one of the biggest quick-win values you get is you’ll just start to see more referrals happening, more word-of-mouth opportunities.”
This is because regularly publishing content helps you stay top-of-mind with people, he explained.
“Whenever they have a need, or someone else has a need, you’re just in that kind of mind space with them, and they’re more likely to refer you.”
Jorgovan learned this first-hand when he took a break from producing content for about three months during a really busy period — and subsequently watched his revenue tank.
He calls content production the “lowest-hanging fruit.”
“Even if you’re producing just a little bit, like one piece a month or keeping a regular LinkedIn feed, it does a lot to amplify that word-of-mouth and referrals.”
When it comes to building credibility, content goes a long way towards demonstrating your expertise and establishing stronger trust with potential clients.
“As industries change, as maybe you learn new skills and see new ways that your services can benefit new clients, content can be a really interesting way to educate your clients about this,” Jorgovan says.
He calls this “land and expand content,” a concept that will be delved into below.
Content as a tool to attract new leads and generate new business is the last of Jorgovan’s four value points. While it certainly can do that, he stresses that the real value of content lies in building your reputation and repeat/referral business.
Obstacles to creating content
Invariably, when Jorgovan hears a consultant explain why they aren’t publishing content, it’s due to one of two reasons:
- I don’t know what to say.
- I don’t have time.
There are many ways to easily address each of these obstacles.
The five types of content every consultant needs
Next, let’s go through each main type of content that should be part of your strategy.
This is where most people should start, Jorgovan says, laying out some guidelines:
- Cornerstone content is one high-quality piece of content that is the definitive guide to your area of focus.
- “The Ultimate Guide to X” is a framework for how to think about your cornerstone content.
- You create this once, then use it over and over for years to come.
This focuses on your area of expertise, and is a long-form piece of content that will form the foundation of your content strategy.
He gave an example of one consultant who was an expert on IT contract negotiations. His company helped the consultant to write several pieces, including “How to Negotiate with Salesforce” and “How to Negotiate with Microsoft,” and others.
Each one of these cornerstone pieces then became an asset.
“Whenever he had an opportunity or was able to speak with customers, he could hand it out and say, ‘Here is everything I think about these engagements, this is how we approach it, this is everything we do.'”
Was the consultant giving everything away? Jorgovan acknowledges that some people might simply take that information and run with it themselves — but most will look at the in-depth content and think that it’s a lot of work, better left to an expert: the consultant.
“That’s the goal of cornerstone content — to create this one definitive, evergreen piece that is something you can use for years to come,” he says.
This type of content is generally easy to create with a simple framework:
- What was the client’s situation?
- What intervention did you provide?
- What was the end result?
Case studies are great for social proof and visibility, Jorgovan says.
They can also be immediately used to showcase past successes to new potential clients. Even if they aren’t perfectly polished, case studies are powerful in building trust and credibility.
“Those are probably one of the easiest, lowest-hanging fruits you can use to start improving your business,” Jorgovan says.
Land and expand content
The goal of this content is to educate people, and gain more work from existing contacts.
Jorgovan encourages consultants to think about what content pieces could position them in a new light, to open up new doors within existing accounts.
An example of this continues from the IT contract negotiations consultant mentioned above. He noticed that many of his clients were involved in mergers and acquisitions — a field he wanted to get in on, but he was not viewed as an expert on that the way he was for IT vendor negotiations.
“His customers didn’t look at him in that light, so he created this very long, in-depth article on his entire thinking process on how to handle IT sourcing and procurement during a merger or acquisition.”
This provided a strong angle to establish the consultant’s expertise in his field for companies going through M&A.
The point is to educate people about areas of your expertise that they might not be as familiar with.
Jorgovan has found that many people think all the value of content comes from the audience — those who read, listen to, watch, or otherwise consume it. However, there is also much value in those you pull into your content creation process.
“What’s really interesting is that a lot of content you find is very collaborative,” he says.
This very video presentation he did for Umbrex is a perfect example of collaborative, networking content. Involving the very people you want to reach — prospective clients and partners — in your content is a very effective strategy.
How can you create content that will enable you to network with prospects and partners? Think about:
- Interview-based podcasts where you can invite people you want to work with as guests.
- Webinar series that collaborate with others.
- Articles in which you interview people you want to reach.
People will often be much more open to an interview over a cold conversation. Content can help you reach out to and network with your ideal client prospects.
For independent consultants, social content is primarily focused on LinkedIn. The way that social media plays into your content strategy is to amplify the content you create, to get it in front of the right people you want to reach.
“Creating content on LinkedIn is a really great way to stay top-of-mind and drive traffic,” Jorgovan says. “If you just put stuff on your website, if you don’t have any way to let people know it exists, it’s not as ideal. A really easy way to do this is to take anything you create and repurpose it into a handful of social posts.”
If you interview someone, for example, in a podcast or video or for an article, you can easily take some of the best quotes and turn those into 10 or 20 social posts. Hiring a social media marketer to do this is usually very cost-effective.
Distributing your content through an email list is also very effective. Use opt-in emails only, of course — and if you don’t have a method for collecting emails on your website, set one up now.
Any content you produce — articles, blog posts, podcasts, webinars, videos, etc. — can easily go into an email newsletter and be repurposed to reach a wider audience. Check out the Umbrex Resource, How to Create a Newsletter, for much more detail on how to do this.
“The interesting thing about all this social content is that it has a very short shelf life,” Jorgovan says. Regardless, this is putting yourself in front of the places where your target audience is — and being there consistently keeps you top-of-mind for them.
Another important part of succeeding with social content is to re-post things others have shared. It’s called “social” for a reason, and engaging with and promoting others helps build your network and relationships.
Jorgovan says this is a valuable and powerful approach, and something he does a lot of.
“I have this realm of strategic partners and top people that are really influential to my business, and I consistently go through and re-share their content. That is a really powerful way to keep yourself top-of-mind with those people who are really influential or thought leaders — people you want to have business alliances with.”
This also helps solve one of the two main challenges voiced by people: not knowing what content to create. Your content doesn’t have to all be original — thoughtfully curated content is valuable as well.
“If you have the ability to create content yourself, I think it’s one of the best things you can do,” Jorgovan says. “[Writing] is an amazing skill that levels people up.”
Some of the top, most well-paid consultants have a wealth of original content they’ve written, which laid the foundation for their platform and expertise. Many of them have collated their content into books they’ve authored.
“It’s a skill and a habit you can build up over time. If you can do this, I guarantee it will be one of the best things you can do for your business,” he says.
Whether you create your own content or not, Jorgovan offers three solutions to consider:
- Do it yourself. Write for 10 minutes every morning and build a habit.
- Use contractors. Hire directly, or use a service such as Upwork or TheWriterFinder.com.
- Hire agencies. Jorgovan’s firm, Content Allies, is an example of a turnkey content agency that can be retained to write content and help you with content strategy.
Watch the video replay
Want to delve into Jorgovan’s content strategy even more? Watch the video replay of his virtual presentation: