Monthly Archives: November 2012

The key to getting good content in professional services

by Kirsten Hodgson

Anyone who’s worked in professional services marketing will know that it’s not always easy to get good content from professionals.

Often it’s not timely

Or is not fit for purpose.

Perhaps it’s an 8 page essay with the key points buried near the end or it’s unclear who should read/watch/listen to the piece and why.

During Clare Adshead-Grant’s workshop on getting fee-earner buy-in at the recent PSMG conference in London (which I’ll cover in a later post), a participant asked how you get fee-earners to put together good content (or, in some cases, any content) in the first place?

It’s a great question and one that I struggled with for years when I was in-house.

Interview the fee-earners and write the content yourself

One delegate responded that, in her firm, the marketing people interview the fee-earners and write the content themselves.

This is a great idea and one which can be applied to a wide range of content from articles to bios. It not only saves you inordinate amounts of time editing, but also allows you to ask the right questions and to drill down to get to the crux of things.

We work with smart people.

The knowledge is in their heads but it often takes questioning and gentle probing to elicit the key points that will make clients and prospects sit up and take notice.

Or, at the very least, see the relevance to them.

This information is often missing from pieces professionals put together because they haven’t been trained to think in terms of features and benefits and it doesn’t come naturally to some of them.

Interview fee-earners to develop video and audio content too

Interviewing professionals for content doesn’t just apply to the written word. It can be equally effective to interview them for video and audio content.

Interviewing them, helps them to relax and turns the clip into a more natural, as opposed to scripted, piece. It’s easy for a skilled editor to edit out the interviewer so that the professional appears to be speaking directly to the person watching/listening.

Next time you want a professional you work with to pull something together, think about whether you, a member of your comms team or a skilled copywriter could interview them.

Asking them to edit your work is a lot easier and less time consuming for them than having to put something together from scratch.

What’s your view?

Have you tried this technique and, if so, how’s it worked for you?

Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos

 

 

LinkedIn: Should you ‘hide’ your connections?

by Kirsten Hodgson

What is a connection?

The fact that you are connected to someone on LinkedIn simply means that that person has given you permission to join their network – nothing more and nothing less.

Your connections may include clients, prospects, referrers, colleagues, peers, and friends.

Nevertheless, professionals are often concerned that if competitors can see their connections they’ll try to poach their clients.

Why display your contacts?

I do understand this genuine concern but, let’s be real, competitors are trying to poach your clients all the time. If you want to know who someone’s clients are it’s not too difficult to find out.

Simply having your connections on display isn’t going to make it any easier for other lawyers, accountants or engineers to poach your clients. You’ve (hopefully) built your client relationships based on rapport, experience, trust and client service. It takes time to replicate this and, if you’re doing a good job, it makes it harder for your competitors.

My advice is to focus more on looking after your clients and less on who else might be trying to poach them.

Ultimately, you will have to make your own decision so you’ll need to weigh up the benefits of allowing your connections to see who else you know versus the risks of client poaching.

Some benefits of making your connections public (i.e. visible to those to whom you are also connected):

  • Your connections can see who else you know that they might want an introduction to.
  • You can do the same and ask for an introduction knowing that you can reciprocate if desired.
  • You can use LinkedIn as a valuable tool when looking to strengthen or build client relationships, when developing industry sector or practice group plans, when planning for an upcoming RFP etc. and help your colleagues to do the same.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to allow certain contacts to see your connections and to block others from doing so. Maybe it’s something for LinkedIn to look at in the future but, in the meantime, think carefully about who you connect to. If you don’t want someone to see who else you are connected to, remove them from your contacts.

Then focus on using LinkedIn to strengthen relationships with your existing clients and make it harder for your competitors to get a foot in the door.

What’s your view?

 


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

What’s the etiquette when someone you don’t know invites you to connect on LinkedIn?

by Kirsten Hodgson

You receive an invite from someone you don’t know.

What should you do?

Firstly, you need to decide whether you want to connect with those you don’t know.

This will largely depend on your objectives for being on LinkedIn as well as any governing professional association’s (such as your Law Society or Bar Association) guidelines.

If it is permissible in your jurisdiction, there may be very good reasons why you would connect with people you have never met, such as influential journalists, prospects, prospective influencers and referrers, and those with whom you’ve had discussions within LinkedIn groups.

Secondly, take a look at the invitation. Have they made it clear why they want to connect with you or have they used the standard LinkedIn text?

While I advise against this, don’t hold it against people as LinkedIn doesn’t give you the option to tailor your invites if you try to connect through certain features – such as ‘People you may know’.

Next, take a look at the person’s profile. Are they someone with whom you want to connect?

You’ll need to use your judgement here – For example, I’m happy to connect with those in my industry sector, as well as people who share valuable content or who’ve been involved in the same group discussions.

If you’re unsure, you might want to send the person a message asking why they want to connect with you. If they respond to this you’ll know they genuinely do have a reason, if not, it could be that they’re just growing their connections.

To reply click on the small arrow next to the ‘Accept’ button.

If you think someone does want to connect just to grow their number of connections or if you don’t want to connect to someone for another reason, select ‘ignore’ and you’ll no longer see the invite. Save the ‘report spam’ button for true spammers.

 Will people know you’ve ignored their invite?

No they won’t. If they go into their ‘Sent’ box within the LinkedIn email system (when in invitations) they will only see that you haven’t responded. However, they won’t know that you’ve selected ‘ignore’. They may well try to connect with you again in future.

What other tips or advice would you share?