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Signature Content

What it is, How it Can Help You, How to Get Started

The author discusses the purpose and value of signature content.

As you are finalizing your marketing plan for the coming year, consider developing one or more pieces of signature content.  My firm frequently helps clients create and use this type of content to build a pipeline of qualified leads and generate measurable business development results.

What is Signature Content?

  • It is valuable content that demonstrates your area of professional expertise
  • It addresses a common problem your audience faces, using clear, non-jargon language
  • It is created expressly to be given away to prospects and clients—but always with a strategic result in mind
  • It ranges from 20 to 30 pages for an executive guide or research report, or even longer for a short book

Some of the Ways You Can Use Your Signature Content

One of the most compelling reasons to create signature content is that it can function in a variety of ways as a business development tool.  For example, you can promote it on your website behind a simple registration page to build your prospect list.  By printing it out, you can create a useful leave-behind for meetings with prospects.  And you can also use the work that went into it to inform other marketing efforts, such as webinars and presentations at conferences.

Some Tips and Recommendations

First, focus on issues that matter to your clients.  You may think you know what those issues are, but it never hurts to ask.  You can do this by having brief conversations with clients, or through more formalized surveys.  Your goal is to identify topics of great interest to your clients, and create unique resources around those topics that do not currently exist in your market.

Second, you will need to conduct some research about the topic itself.  Fortunately, many valuation firms are very familiar with conducting research as part of their day-to-day work, so it is often just a matter of re-directing some internal resources to support your marketing efforts.

Your research could involve finding information that is publicly available and synthesizing it in a user-friendly way.  Alternatively, you could conduct primary research, interviewing individuals within your market about a specific topic and synthesizing the results in a report.  For example, if your market niche is surgical practices, you might focus your research on surveying managers of freestanding surgical facilities on what they consider their biggest challenges and opportunities in the coming year.

Third, consider the development of signature content as a marketing investment, and allocate the resources necessary to create a professional report or document.  If you have good communicators on staff, that may be all you need—but if not, consider hiring a professional writer, editor, or designer to synthesize your findings in a document that is easy to read and reflects your brand.

One of the underlying strategies is to approach this as an ongoing effort.  You could do an annual research report, for example—or, if you are tracking and reporting on industry data, you might produce a monthly or quarterly report.  If the document is a book, creating the content will take longer, but on the other hand, its shelf-life could be as long as a few years.

So Why Don’t More Firms Create Signature Content?

Probably the most common objection is that it “just feels wrong” to give away one’s expertise.  After all, your business model is built on clients paying you to apply your expertise to their problems.  In response, I suggest that you get a lot more from creating signature content than you put into it in terms of attracting new business and improving your reputation in the market.

Another common area of resistance, simply put, is that it is hard.  I agree, to an extent—but in a way, that is the point.  Because it is hard, only a few firms tend to do it, giving you an opportunity to differentiate yourself with prospects.  What is more, taking the time to create signature content actually saves you time and effort on other aspects of marketing.  For example, it becomes a highly effective lead-generating device which, once you create it and promote it on your website, can keep generating leads as long as the topic remains relevant, with little or no additional effort on your part.

Now is a Great Time to Get Started

Signature content can play a vital role in your firm’s business development processes.  With a little planning and effort, you can create documents that will work nonstop to add prospects to your prospect list, create thought-provoking leave-behind pieces, and even serve as the basis of webinars, speeches at conferences, or other purposes.  Based on what we have seen, a little investment in creating signature content will go a long, long way.

Lee W. Frederiksen, PhD, is Managing Partner at Hinge, the leading branding and marketing firm for the professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to become more visible and grow.

Dr. Frederiksen can be contacted at (703) 391-8870 or by e-mail to

The National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA) supports the users of business and intangible asset valuation services and financial forensic services, including damages determinations of all kinds and fraud detection and prevention, by training and certifying financial professionals in these disciplines.

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