Industry marketing hits the target

Do you know me? I mean, really know me?

That’s what professional services buyers are asking as they search for advisors who deeply understand their industry. And why not? With an abundance of talent to choose from, it makes sense to gravitate toward people who can speak your language and ramp up quickly.

Not all professional services providers would agree. Many have built their careers on being generalists who can master any subject. But the market has spoken in favor of industry specialists who understand their particular slice of the pie. For instance, in Right Hat’s 2024 Top of Mind Survey of 100+ legal services buyers, 84% rated industry knowledge the most important piece of information in both proposals and professional biographies. And 79% said industry knowledge is one of the two most important topics covered on websites. Said a C-level executive at a Fortune 100 company, “Firms who follow a client’s industry and can share insights based on that will get my attention.”

Convincing the market that you walk the talk on industry expertise takes more than including an industry in your capabilities list. Buyers want proof. One great way to prove yourself is by telling stories of your successes for clients in the target industry. Another: showcasing team members who have worked in-house in the industry and have firsthand knowledge of the challenges. But the most powerful way to prove yourself is by providing consistent, high-level, value-added content about an industry.

Why content is king in industry marketing

Anyone who’s ever been on a first date or a job interview knows it’s more engaging to talk about the other person than about yourself. Providing value-added content, or thought leadership, is the marketing equivalent. Think about it: Would you rather read a firm’s self-description, or an incisive commentary on a topic of concern to your business? And there’s the added benefit of providing tangible proof to back up claims of industry expertise. Finally, if clients and prospects see you as a source of relevant content, they may return to your website or engage with it longer, like or link to your social media, or take other actions that boost your search engine rankings.   

How to succeed with value-added industry content

Choose industries wisely

We all would like to be viewed as experts in everything. But beware: If you claim expertise in too many industries, your credibility may suffer. Not only that, but trying to generate sufficient content may strain your resources. Instead of showing knowledge that’s a mile wide and an inch deep, go all in for high-value areas where you can really shine. Once you become established in a few areas, you can use your experience to add more.

Plan your content

Is your industry content like the 24-hour news cycle — focused only on responding to the latest happenings? If so, you may be missing an opportunity. With generative AI putting general information just a few keystrokes away, proving true industry knowledge means raising your game. Instead of just breaking news, offer analysis and action items. Consider crafting a go-to signature piece that provides benchmarking, trends or client research people can use for ideas and answers over time. Said one buyer, “What’s not helpful is getting a generic news alert or summary of an article that I could get from ChatGPT. I prefer a piece that is well thought out and gives you recommendations for things to think about.”

If you’re taking a big swing at content in a specific industry, pillar pages and topic clusters can help you plan and organize it. First, create the pillar page — a broad article on a big subject, such as your industry itself. Next, identify subtopics that would be useful to the audience for this industry, or frequently searched keywords. Each subtopic can become the nucleus of a cluster of narrower, in-depth content pieces linking back to the pillar. (Not all cluster content must be written — think videos, podcasts, infographics, webinars, etc.) While often used in tandem with a keyword strategy, pillar pages and topic clusters can also serve as an organizing principle for delivering comprehensive, quality content. SEO gurus say that this type of content helps search engines recognize and rank your firm — and it certainly helps readers see your depth and breadth of industry knowledge.

Cover the bases 

In the digital universe, content no longer just lives on law firm websites. Make sure you are using multiple channels to bring your industry-focused content to the public, including social media, email newsletters, online advertising, webinars and podcasts. Make it easy for your audiences to find you and to consume your content in their preferred format.  

Make it engaging

Too often, professional thought leadership doesn’t get enough visual love. Instead of long paragraphs and off-putting walls of words, use design to make your pieces sing. Animation, embedded videos, unexpected imagery and plain old white space make it more likely that people will have a favorable impression of the message you are delivering.

Keep it consistent

It takes time to build a reputation for industry knowledge, so stay consistent with your content efforts. Delivering valuable insights on a regular basis, again and again, is what will make your name synonymous with industry expertise. If resources are tight, leverage your assets by using the same ideas in different ways — a webinar, a short video and a LinkedIn story can all be based on the same white paper, for instance. Just make sure to keep meeting the expectation that you are a go-to resource.

By homing in on a client’s industry, you demonstrate an intimate understanding of their pain points, regulations, and trends. You’re not just another service provider; you’re a trusted advisor who speaks their language. And that is the foundation for unparalleled credibility and long-term relationships.

Share this article