This week I did a workshop with the New York Association of Collaborative Professionals. Collaborative professionals (CP) work with couples getting a divorce and offer a respectful, dignified approach as an alternative to a litigated (and frequently destructive) divorce. I find this space to be incredibly interesting and challenging. From a content marketing perspective, the first question the class asked was “who wants to read or hear about alternatives to divorce?” That’s true I think – most people don’t want to read or think about getting a divorce.
That is, until the procedures of a divorce become relevant. And then they want someone who is going to be able to help them through a difficult time of their life. I think a compelling part of the narrative a CP has to tell is that, for most people, this will be their first time working with a lawyer. Many people only have experience with a lawyer via the TV and working with one can come with a lot of prior assumptions and expectations about the experience.
I think there is a tremendous opportunity for CPs to be a voice of reason and sanity in an environment that is challenging and scary. When one of the students said she avoids writing because she thinks writing on the web is often overly simplified, I understand where she is coming from. However, there is no need to be the writer you think you have to be. Instead, you can become the writer you want to be, one that tells a compelling, compassionate and complex story. I think the real trick is to tell a complex story simply.
Use your customers to create content
The favorite thing I heard in class was when a student, while reviewing her article on the HuffPost, started looking through the 1000s of comments, and found inspiration for herself and her group for new blog posts.
Responding to client questions is immensely powerful because it does a number of things simultaneously:
1) Give you direction for what to write about next
2) Is great for SEO because it answers the questions people are typing into search engines
3) Saves you the time of answering the same question over and over by answering it once in a blog
Hipster vs creative
When filling out the stereotype chart, a question came up about the difference between a hipster and a creative. Is it age? Profession? Location? Can a 40-year old dad living in Pelham be a hipster? Turns out we weren’t the first ones to ask this question! Enjoy some articles here, here and here. From my perspective, as long at the students were engaged with thinking about who their demographic is, the exercise is a success. The goal of knowing your demographic is so that you can create compelling content for them. Stereotypical labels is less important than having a firm understanding of who wants to buy your product or service.
What to put in a video?
I normally teach that an intro video should be very substantive. It should simply and quickly explain what your service or product does so that people can decide if it meets their needs. See my post on intro videos.
However, when choosing a collaborative professional, a substantive video might not be of much value. Do people want to see a mock interview or mediation? Instead, it can be much more valuable for the potential client to get a “feel” for the professional. In that sense, the professional speaking directly to the camera (and thus the client) may be a better perspective than watching over the professional’s shoulder. A student called this “cover your approach”. When you introduce yourself, talk about yourself, why you are doing what you’re doing, and what the client can expect. Here’s an example of how this would look.
How long should things be?
This question came up twice – for videos and blogs. My recommendation is to think of a meal – don’t serve a hearty 40 oz steak before getting your diner warmed up with a few appetizers. I recommend starting with a piece of content that is short and very to the point. For video, that’s 30-60 seconds and for blogs less than 500 words (less than 1 Microsoft word page and about 3 minutes to read). Once you have people interested in what you’re talking about and trusting that you are a valuable source of information, then it is time to start producing longer form content. Videos can be 5-10 minutes long and blogs can be 1000-2000 words (which takes about ten minutes to read). If your client is still looking for more information after that, then by all means produce something longer that can deal with more complex issues.
My rule of thumb is to produce longer pieces by producing a series of smaller pieces. This forces you to be specific and clear in each individual piece. Then when you glue it all together to make a longer piece of content, each part will still be of very high quality. This is how I wrote my book on Digital Marketing.
How to make time for your blog?
A big question that came up in class is how to find time to blog when there is already so much to do in the day. Here are two selling points to convince you that blogging is worth your time.
1) A blog multiplies your time by 10x or more!
2) Blogging is the easy road to longer content that you can giveaway (like books and articles)
Intrigued? See my full explanation here: http://ericmorrow.com/2012/09/11/how-to-get-your-company-experts-to-blog/
Thanks for having me!
Working with the collaborative professionals was a very unique experience for me. Besides working specifically with one profession (normally my classes have an eclectic mix), I also got to work with an older generation who doesn’t feel as “digitally” native. Ultimately, I gave the same advice I always give; that you are the expert in your field and your customers are looking for high quality information in order to make decisions about who to work with. The key to winning more business is to consistently produce high quality content you can share through your digital marketing channels (for CPs, primarily websites/blogs and LinkedIn). Good luck!