This is the first in a series of posts on how to get more clients via online approaches for your professional business. It's written specifically with small and independent consultants and coaches in mind – but the lessons are applicable to other professional businesses.
The Power of Content: My Story
About three years ago I first started out trying to do more online with my consulting and coaching business. Back then, few consultants or coaches were getting any sort of business online – but I was convinced from my experience wih other service sectors that it could work.
And I knew that if I could make it work for me it would pay huge dividends. It would free me up from having to invest a ton of my time into going out, networking, having meetings, making presentations, schmoozing and other time consuming business development activities.
And I also believed strongly that if I could attract leads for my business via the web, they could be more qualified. Rather than me having to knock on doors to persuade people I was the right person to work with, I wanted people coming to me already predisposed to hire me.
But my early attempts weren't a huge success.
I paid big bucks for a fancy website. It wasn't bad either – it followed what was considered best practice at the time. It talked about who my clients were, the problems I helped them solve and the results they got from working with me. It described my services in benefit oriented terms and showcased testimonials and case studies.
It had pretty much everything.
Well, everything except clients.
Almost no one came to my site (despite paying for some search engine optimisation work). And those that did come didn't hang around for long.
Now being a bit of a geek at heart, this annoyed me.
I wanted to know why not. I wanted to know why some websites could get thousands of visitors and could convert many of those visitors into paying clients when mine couldn't.
My first clue came when I created this blog.
I started it for fun really, and as a creative outlet for my ideas on business development. But within a few months it was getting more traffic than my official “corporate” website.
And people were emailing me. Leaving comments on the blog telling me how helpful the articles were. I emailed them back and we began to build relationships. That had never happened with my “corporate” site.
Soon, other bloggers were linking to my blog and recommending it.
As more and more sites linked to my articles and blog posts, my blog rose up the search engine rankings. It got more and more traffic – both directly, and via searches. Visitors kept engaging. When I started a newsletter they engaged even more.
And then I started getting emails from people asking me about how I could help them in their business. In other words, clients were coming to me. Not because of my fancy corporate website. But because of my simple, content-rich blog.
And that's the lesson here: the most important factor in the success of a website for a consultant, coach or other professional is the quality and depth of the content on that website.
Now most professionals' websites are simply “brochure sites”. They describe what the professional does, who they work for, the benefits they bring to clients, etc. And that's fine – if the potential client is coming to your website explicitly to check you out and see whether you're a good fit for them.
But the truth is that the vast majority of people aren't out on the web looking for us specifically. They're out looking for ideas, solutions and resources. In other words: content.
High quality content helps us get clients in three key ways.
Content drives traffic. Other sites are more than happy to link to high quality content on your site as it adds value to their readers. Whereas they have no motivation to link to your site if all it has is descriptions of you and your services – no matter how well written.
Content drives engagement. Visitors to your site stick around and explore if they find useful content. If all there is is a sales pitch for your services they click away pretty quickly.
And content drives credibility. As a professional, clients need to know you have the expertise and experience to help them before they'll consider hiring you. Sharing valuable content which gives them insight and helps them improve their business proves your capabilities infinitely more than any claims you make or even any testimonials you might have.
In short, having the passion and energy to consistently create valuable content for your website is THE biggest driver of online success for professionals.