Content marketing is all the rage, and for good reason when it comes to building your consulting firm. Your consulting firm’s thought leadership is a cornerstone of your efforts to be perceived as a credible, compelling resource for prospective clients.
If you’ve spent any time and/or money on content marketing, you’ve likely discovered that creating outstanding content is like folding a fitted sheet: it’s harder than it looks and more often than not you end up crumpling your work into a ball.
Fortunately, the checklist below will guide your efforts to write a great article, book chapter, lead magnet, white paper, podcast script or other marketing piece for your consulting firm.
Consulting Firm Content Creation Checklist
Determine Your Lesson
Is the topic of your marketing piece something your prospects will find valuable?
Stay Right-Side Up: no one is interested in learning about your consulting firm; they’re interested in learning about themselves and how they can improve.
Brainstorm/Choose a Device
Play with at least a handful of stories, metaphors and/or examples that could introduce and/or convey your lesson. Choose one.
(Advanced methodology: Eat sweet treats while brainstorming and insist to your staff that it’s actually part of the creative process.)
Write Your First Draft
Start with a short articulation of the problem your lesson addresses, then lay out your consulting firm’s recommendation or solution.
Trim the Fat
Edit out every section of your draft that isn’t absolutely necessary to convey your lesson. Cut out tangents.
You can anticipate setting aside at least half of what you wrote—maybe you’ll use the deleted parts in a different chapter, article, whitepaper or when you need paper to pack a return for Amazon.com.
Trim the Muscle
Work out how your readers can implement your lesson or make the lesson useful. Remove every paragraph that isn’t absolutely necessary.
Trim the Bone
Discard every sentence and phrase that isn’t necessary. Most writers include too many parenthetical phrases—delete 75% of those.
Most writers also repeat themselves. If you’ve already made a point, eliminate every sentence that repeats your point.
Improve your Tone
Rewrite every sentence that contains a formal, academic tone to convey a friendly, casual-yet-professional quality. Even whitepapers can utilize an engaging tone.
Replace any statement that is theoretical, hypothetical or general with a concrete statement about your reader. The exception is negative characterizations, which generally shouldn’t be about your reader.
For example, in this step, I replaced “the reader” with “your reader.”
Clarify Your Writing
Revisit every noun and pronoun and substitute descriptive, enticing nouns for unclear or lazy nouns.
Inject color, humor and spice by including fun adverbs, exaggerated examples, and humorous expressions.
If you read this step as “Add pizzas” you’re forgiven. You can add that into your checklist too.
Delicately sprinkle in invitations and incentives for your audience to interact with your consulting firm. Avoid heavy-handed, salesy calls to action.
Enlist Your SUPER Person
Your SUPER person will challenge everything you’ve written and how you’ve written it. (Learn more about a SUPER person here.) Use their advice to develop your next draft, then work through the checklist again, starting at the “Trim” steps.
Format for Consumption
If you’re producing a written piece, add white space, graphics, callouts, illustrations and other visual devices that enhance readers’ ability to skim, scan, and enjoy your work.
If you’re producing audio or video, insert pauses, music and visual variety to keep your audience’s attention.
Title to Maximize Uptake
Spend at least 10% of your marketing piece’s total development time on the title. (And your thumbnail if you’re producing a video for YouTube.)
If you’re putting together a significant piece (e.g. a whitepaper, book, or five-minute-or-longer video), then test your title. Trust your audience and the data, not your instincts.
Are there any other items you’d add to this checklist to create an outstanding marketing piece for your consulting firm?
Text and images are © 2021 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.