In a business marketplace that’s getting more crowded, finding innovative ways to connect with clients and prospects isn’t as easy as it used to be. One of the best ways to position yourself as a trusted source of information (aka, a subject matter expert) is via content marketing writing.
My advice is to get your name out to prospects, clients, and colleagues by either teaching or writing. Since we know the number-one fear most people have is the fear of public speaking, it makes sense that most people would rather write than speak.
Part of my work is to write and ghostwrite articles and white papers. These have been enjoyable experiences, but writing is just the first step. The more important piece is to figure out whether my writing was effective. This sounds like a simple thing to figure out, but it’s one of the hardest to measure. For more and more accounting professionals, the bottom line is to provide content they can use to retain their current clients and to recruit prospects they can convert to clients.
What you’re seeking is engagement, so the question to answer is: Did you engage your audience with what you wrote?
Define Your Audience
In terms of audience, the mix I usually propose includes:
- Colleagues you consider key referral sources
- Current clients
- Your competitors
- Members of the accounting media
Each segment has its own set of needs, of course, but the issue is whether you provided information that caused your audience to take some sort of action – retaining you as their accounting professional or providing a hot referral to a prospect. You get the idea.
Set Your Goals
Unless a prospect tells you outright that he or she found you based on something you wrote – and that does happen – engagement is difficult to measure in even the most controlled situations. What you’ll want to do is start with a set of measurable goals for your writing, which may go something like this:
- Publishing frequency – How often will you publish? This could include an article or even a blog post.
- Social media – Was the article or white paper shared through social media? How many “shares” did you get, and where was it shared?
- Distribute content – Did you push the articles out to your audience? If so, was there any reaction?
- Lead generation – Have you used your writing as a source for leads? Consider requiring an email address to download your white paper or to view your article.
- Word of mouth – Did any clients mention your article to you?
What was the result of your writing? Think in terms of the following:
- Did it change someone’s mind about a particular topic or issue? If the article is online, one of the best ways to figure this one out is to determine if you received any comments. (Disregard any spam comments; the publisher should be monitoring and deleting those.) It doesn’t matter whether the comment was positive or negative – the point here is that someone paid attention to what you wrote. Be sure to answer any comments that are phrased in the form of a question. It’s also good to comment on someone else’s comment because it keeps the conversation going.
- Did you realize any new business? Ask! Again, unless a prospect or referral source told you he or she found you based on something you wrote, you’ll never know about the article’s engagement, so ask.
- Did the article get published in a respected publication? If it did, the tendency is to try and measure the article’s effectiveness in terms of impressions – how much traffic a particular article received. If the number of viewers isn’t available alongside your article, ask the publisher. This is a simple analytic. However – and this is a huge takeaway – you’ll never know true engagement based on the number of times an article was clicked on. Still, it’s better than nothing.
At the end of the day . . .
If you can’t find a viable to way to measure engagement, don’t give up writing. Professionals “write” for a variety of reasons. Some do it because they want to build business, while others simply want to have fun and express their opinions. Either way, write about something you enjoy and care about. Have fun!