The Content Marketing Institute reports that producing enough quality content is the biggest challenge for businesses. This isn’t shocking news considering businesses need to create content for many platforms – social media, email, blogs, eBooks etc.
Creating a lot of high quality content is certainly time consuming. There is a big difference between regurgitated information that is on every accounting firm’s website vs. unique and high value content that naturally draws in readers.
Every blog you write is an asset to your business. Just like in a house where each additional room you have adds value to your home, each blog you write adds value to your business.
Each home you build needs strong sturdy pillars to hold it up. They form the deep foundations of your home and ensure that it stands strong for years to come.
Which is why your accounting practice needs to have strong blogging pillars to form deep foundations in your content marketing.
Pillar Articles are also referred to as cornerstone content and massive value posts. The term we love here at TwentyTwo Agency is Pillar Articles. They conjure up images of strong Greek temples that are trusted, powerful seats of wisdom and the most important real estate in cities and towns.
What Are Pillar Articles?
Yaro Starak – who I believe originally came up with the concept of Pillar Articles defined Pillar Articles as this:
“A Pillar Article is usually a tutorial style article aimed to teach your audience something. Generally they are longer than 500 words and have lots of very practical tips or advice…. This style of article has long term appeal, stays current (it isn’t news or time dependent) and offers real value and insight. The more pillars you have on your blog the better.”
A Pillar Article, as the name suggests, supports your blogging activities throughout the customer journey and increases the credibility of your blog.
They are usually very long and detailed articles with multiple tips and advice. They also should provide a full and remarkable reading experience that parts with in-depth and insightful information.
When Yaro originally created a Pillar Article definition a 500 word blog was a good length. However, in 2017/2018 a 500-word article will not be enough to be shared and bookmarked.
Pillar Articles will need to be well researched, and will require more effort to create than a standard 500-word blog.
They will answer a specific question that your ideal client has. From this Pillar Article, you will create your Cluster Articles, which will then lead/link back to your Pillar Article.
Creating Pillar and Cluster Articles is a strategic way to approach your marketing activities. This approach will ensure quality content is produced that helps your end reader.
How Long Should Your Pillar Article Be?
Unlike traditional article writing/blogs, your Pillar Article needs to be 6 times the length. A traditional blog is now around 500 words. Some of your blogs might be up to 1000-1500 words if you are a prolific writer.
A pillar article is 2500-3000 words. It will also sometimes consist of infographics, videos, statistics and other useful links.
Here Are Some Of The Benefits Of Pillar Articles
1) Longer Time Spent On Your Website. A person reads an average of 200 words a minute so a Pillar Article will take around 15 minutes to read, as opposed to the 3-5 minutes most blogs are skim read at.
2) Lower Bounce Rate. A person who reads your Pillar Article will naturally go on to read further articles on your website, as the information in them links to other high value content. A lower bounce rate is seen favourably by Google.
3) Generation Of Backlinks – if it is good content it will get shared. A Pillar Article will have so much information in it that it will get shared more often on social media and will create a ton of backlinks.
4) Increase In Traffic – as your content gets shared more, you will see an uplift in traffic to your website. If your website has been created to give a great buyer journey you will see an uplift in clients alongside the uplift in website visitors.
5) Increase In Your Reputation. If you are known for providing huge value via your articles people will suggest your blog as a source of excellent information. Your reputation will be enhanced and you will be recommended and referred more.
6) Pillar Articles Are Timeless. When you create the Pillar Articles you are creating information that will still be useful in years to come.
7) Pillar Articles Are Unique And Original. Thousands of articles are created every day. Yet very few pieces of quality content are created that are unique and original. This original and unique information will create an impact on the readers mind.
8) Pillar Articles Are For Humans. Many people write blogs/articles to get found by search engines. The problem with this is that blogs can often be boring and robotic to read. Pillar Articles are written for humans and will be so helpful they will naturally get ranked by search engines, but easily get visited by humans.
How To Write Pillar Articles
Step One – Know Your Client Avatar
To understand how to create a client avatar for better client acquisition, there are certain steps you need to take.
A client avatar is one person that is an ideal member of your audience. Your client avatar is the kind of client that you would give your right arm to have on board working with your practice. You can think of your client avatar as your A Grade Client.
Once you have the criteria of your client avatar, you then sit down and research who fits under this criteria. Once you have a more complete understanding of who they are, you can then schedule a call with them to ask them questions.
- You need to understand the fears, frustrations, wants and aspirations of your ideal Client Avatar.
- You need to understand where they go for help – do they turn to Google or social media, or do they ask a friend?
- You need to understand where they hang out.
- You need to understand what their specific need is, and what criteria they would need to know to choose you to provide that specific need.
- An alternative to picking up the phone and talking to a client avatar is to search online forums in your market area.
Just about every industry has forums that you can research on.
Step Two – Generate An Idea
From speaking with your client avatar you will have a clear understand of what they need help with. This understanding becomes the basis of your Pillar Article creation.
For example, your A Grade Client may need help with maximising the profit in their business, or knowing how to juggle running multiple businesses. Maybe their problems lie more in the frustration of not understanding their numbers, or their accountants. Listen to the key problems they have and create content to provide solutions around these problems.
Because of the time investment in creating these Pillar Articles we suggest that you aim to write one every quarter. For this reason you will need to pick the 4 biggest areas that your A Grade Client will need advice on.
Step Three – Start Mapping Out Your Pillar Article
An article of substance and quality information cannot just be sat down and written. You need to thoroughly research the subject matter and map out what you are going to cover.
Information you will need to gather may include:
- Quotes to back up your thoughts and ideas
- Statistics to drive home your message
- Images so readers can visualise your message
- Infographics so readers can enjoy the education experience
- Video (either your own or others) to drive home a point or two
- Audio so it can be listened to rather than read
- Bullet points so it can be skim read, quickly
- Links to other articles that naturally follow on from the Pillar Article
- Case Studies as proof that your insights work
This research time may take 2-3 hours or more.
Step Four – Pulling It All Together
When we create a Pillar Article at TwentyTwo Agency we don’t just sit down and write. We map out the content and then we write the first draft.
This may take 3-4 hours initially, but we tend to let the words flow and not worry about punctuation, grammar or length of sentences.
In the first draft we add all the additional information from the research stage and ensure it flows.
Step Five – Edit and Improve
The first draft will be good. But it will have many mistakes and need to be tweaked. At this stage we upload the article into grammarly.com and check all our spelling and punctuation.
We then have two editors sit down and read through the article aloud. This reading aloud enables us to ensure that the quality and ease of reading is the best it can be.
During this time we may spark a couple of new ideas and these ideas will get added to the article.
Step Six – Create Article Imagery
To do this we tend to jump on www.Canva.com or use or in-house graphic designer. We create a header image for our Pillar Article, to use on our website and also on LinkedIn.
This image will need to sit in line with your firms branding, and will enhance the message that you are wanting to convey.
For photos, you can use a number of sites. We tend to use Pixabay.com for free, and BigStockPhotos and Shutterstock for paid images.
Step Seven – Upload To Your Website
It almost seems silly to tell you to upload your Pillar Article to your website, but with such a complex article you will need to schedule a decent amount of time to do this properly.
We also suggest that you create a check list when uploading your pillar article to ensure you do not forget anything.
The checklist you create could include:
- Meta Title and Meta Description
- Links to other articles you have written
- Images uploaded and Alt Tagged
- Quotes attributed
Step Eight – Distribution Of Your Pillar Article
All too often I see blogs written and then …. Tumbleweed…
Nothing happens and they sit on your website not being shared, commented on or read.
You need to spend 50% of your time writing articles and then the other 50% of your time distributing the content and making sure it is visible.
Again, as massive advocates of processes and systems we urge you to create a checklist of places you are going to share your article to get visitors to read it.
This checklist should include at least some/all of the following:
- Tweet the article with an attractive image
- Upload it to your Facebook page and share
- Post in Facebook groups
- Share on Google Plus
- Publish your article to LinkedIn
- Share in LinkedIn groups
- Share on your LinkedIn Company page
- Ask friends and work colleagues to share across their social media
- Share in your newsletter
- Share on Pinterest/Instagram
- Create quotes from your Pillar Article and share as tweets with links
Step Nine – Guide The Customer Journey
At the end of the Pillar Article your reader will be left feeling a certain way. Hopefully they will have enjoyed your information and got a lot of value. In their mind they will be thinking:
As with all of your marketing you need to think about the prospects questions so you can predict which information they need next.
For this reason, at the end of the article you need to give them options. This is often referred to as a “Call To Action” in marketing speak.
The Call To Action that you may write could include:
- Download our free “Insert lead magnet title” by clicking here
- Book your free audit by clicking here
- To download our prices, click here
Other information you may wish to share at the bottom of the article could include relevant blogs. Although not a Pillar Article, a great example of this is on our blog “Who Are The Best Marketing Companies For Accounting Firms In The UK?”
In this image below you will see we have linked to two types of content:
Step Ten – Build Relationships
This is the part that most practice owners and their staff forget to do. You have spent hours creating an article, days proofing it and uploading it, weeks sharing it and promoting it and that is where more often than not your effort ends.
The magic of writing such amazing articles comes when you start to use this content marketing to build relationships.
- Relationships are built when you respond when people share your article, or tweet your firm.
- Relationships are built when someone likes your LinkedIn update and you send them a message to say thank you.
- Relationships are built when you reach out and jump on a call or meet in person.
The reason why you decide to invest time and money into marketing your practice is to get clients.
The more a prospect/client trusts your firm the more you will get recommended and referred. No matter how many blogs you write, tweets you send or Facebook posts you boost, if it is one way communication your firm will not thrive.
Whilst you may still be getting your head around the undeniable fact that you need to start writing content and approach modern marketing, I am asking you to aim high.
A few generic blogs sporadically written, or articles on your website that are the same as your competitors, will no longer be enough to position you as the go-to firm.
Pillar Articles, coupled with Cluster Articles of 500-700 words will ensure that your firm is remembered, recommended and referred.
Google will love you. Clients will be proud to work with you. Prospects will trust you and Influencers will share your information.
P.S. When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you with marketing and growing your accounting practice:
1. Grab free copy of my book
It’s the roadmap to attracting better prospects, signing higher value clients and scaling your accounting firm. – Click Here
2. Take the test.
It will benchmark your firms ability to effortlessly attract, connect with & convert high value clients using the Pioneering Practice Scorecard. – Click here
3. Join the tribe and connect with firms who are growing too.
It’s our new Facebook community where ambitious founders, owners, and partners learn to attract better prospects, sign higher value clients and scale their accounting firm. – Click here