Why it’s better to start this before someone becomes a client
I read a post recently that suggested that the term “trusted adviser” should be thrown out the window. The author’s premise, and rightly stated, is that the language of “trusted adviser” has lost all its meaning. I agree that this is largely the case.
However, the opportunity to actually become a trusted adviser is not dead, in my humble opinion, quite the opposite. I believe there are more people looking for a trusted adviser today than ever before. The world has grown more complex and people need more guidance and wisdom than ever. I also believe that there have never been greater opportunities for professional service leaders to fulfill the role of being a trusted adviser.
Here’s the kicker. The way we all used to develop and foster trusted relationships has experienced tremendous disruption over the last five years. We used to be trusted advisers to clients, and exclusively clients, after they signed a deal with us. Now, to achieve our goals, we have to become a trusted adviser before someone becomes our client. The payoff to service leaders who will do this work is nothing less than game changing. Let’s explore how to do this.
Does being a trusted adviser still matter?
Some people seem to believe that being a trusted adviser is no longer, well, advisable. Their theory goes like this. The world is full of jaded people. Our default position now is skepticism. It is virtually impossible to overcome the doubts that people have and so all you can hope for is to get an engagement and get paid without too much hassle.
To this I say — bah humbug.
The payoff for being a trusted adviser is still worth the work. What happens to people who become trusted advisers?
- Their counsel is given immediate credence.
- They command higher fees.
- They earn stronger profits.
- They have better, healthier and far less frustrating relationships with clients.
- Their clients, because they follow counsel, actually realize better outcomes.
Being a trusted adviser is still the goal and it should remain the goal. However, it’s much harder now to become a trusted adviser. Here are some ideas to help you get further down this path.
The content marketing trusted adviser link
If you want to become a trusted adviser, you have to use content marketing effectively. I’m not talking about blogs and social media and email marketing and webinars and other tools. These are all content channels.
I’m talking about the actual content within your content marketing. I’m talking about the ideas.
You see, most services organizations are trying to use content marketing today. But many of them are actually hurting their brand, eroding trust through these efforts. How so?
The chief complaint against content marketing is that it has filled people’s inboxes and social media accounts with noise. Now that anyone can publish on LinkedIn, for instance, many people do publish. But what is the value of the content? Why should someone give their content the time of day? Do their posts contain great ideas or just more clutter in an already overcrowded landscape?
I’ll let you be the judge.
For your content marketing to establish you as a trusted adviser and a thought leader, your content has to be not only thoughtful, but also centered on what your ideal clients think about. If your content marketing pieces tell prospective ideal clients how to achieve their goals, overcome their challenges and realize their opportunities, you will build trust.
This is the link between content marketing and becoming a trusted adviser. It’s all about what you focus on and how clearly you articulate your messages. The more rich and nuanced your counsel, on topics that matter to prospective ideal clients, the more you will become a trusted adviser.
The role of blogging in becoming a trusted adviser
I noted above that blogging, along with other promotional vehicles, is merely a channel. This is a true statement. Still, blogging has become an important channel.
This is the 76th article I’ve written for Professional Services Journal. Why in the world, you might ask, would I commit so much time and energy to this channel? Here’s why. Blogging matters.
If you’re not blogging, you’re missing opportunities to connect with and influence prospective ideal clients. It’s not enough to just populate a blog with words.
The goal of blogging, in my humble opinion, is to give people an appetizer before the main course. The blog is like shrimp scampi. You’ll find dinner on our website.
The role of social media in becoming a trusted adviser
But it isn’t just blogging that matters. You also need to become a social media expert. Let me be clear on this point. I have yet to find a single professional services firm who has a strong case study or success story for Facebook. Nonetheless, there are tons of great stories to tell about LinkedIn.
We are such a story. My LinkedIn network had just 350 people in fewer than 18 months ago. I will soon surpass 4,000 followers on my LinkedIn profile. I now provision content every week through my LinkedIn posts. I make connections through groups nearly every day.
Some people wonder how I have the time to do this. My question is this. How can you not make time to do this? LinkedIn is so important for services leaders that it’s hard for me to overstate this point.
But success comes, and trusted adviser status comes, not from updating your profile. It comes from interacting on LinkedIn. Write great posts about topics that matter to prospective ideal clients. Provision, respectfully and according to group rules, those posts into groups. Respond to likes and comments and treat people like they matter to you. You’ll be amazed at the results.
The role of websites in becoming a trusted adviser
But it’s not just blogging and social media that help you become a trusted adviser. To achieve this goal, you have to deliver the right experience on your website. Let me explain.
A moment ago I said that blogging is like an appetizer. When you go to a restaurant and order and appetizer, are you fully satisfied? No. You want the main course. You want dinner.
Your website should be dinner for people who are hungry for great ideas and for your wisdom. I believe the best websites are conforming to the new 80-20 rule: 80 percent of your webpages contain great ideas for prospective ideal clients and only 20 percent of your webpages talk about your company.
Follow the 80-20 rule and your website will become really sticky. Your average time-on-site and time-on-page will skyrocket. That’s not all. To get the full benefit of this strategy, you need gated assets.
The role of gated assets in becoming a trusted adviser
Gated assets are content pieces that you place behind a registration form. If a user wants to access the content, they have to complete the form. Yes. They can put in bogus information. But you know what? Almost no one does this to trusted advisers.
I cannot explain why. When you do a great job of making your very thoughtful ideas free and easy to access, people seem to reward this with an honest submission. More than 95 percent of everyone who completes forms on our website does so with their actual, honest to goodness, personal information: first name, last name, company name and email.
This is tantamount to saying: Hey Randy, you’re giving me great ideas so I’ll give you my contact information in exchange. It’s an implicit acknowledgement that we are starting a relationship. More than that, it’s a way of saying — I’ll take the risk that you might contact me (I almost never do by the way) because I believe the content is worth it.
How do you do this?
Being a trusted adviser is best accomplished these days through a combination of content strategies and web technologies. Yes. It is complicated. But you’re not alone in trying to figure this out.
I’ve developed a new e-book called Ten Things Service Websites Must Do To Drive Revenue. This free, e-book shows you exactly how to accomplish the goals I’ve described here. It also includes an audio e-book delivered chapter-by-chapter in case you don’t want to read and prefer to listen.
Please avail yourself of this powerful resource because I know it will make a huge difference for your firm.
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