We are all well aware of the ways in which networking has moved into the digital age. This is proven with the now almost mandatory presence of every employee of every firm on a range of social networking sites.
The result of this is that lawyers are now able to utilise this method of communication to establish their expertise in their specialist area and to allow for their knowledge to be shared and recommended to others. This can be achieved through the effective implementation of a good Content Marketing strategy.
So let us look more carefully at Content Marketing as a format and consider how law firms can make it work for them as part of their overall marketing strategy.
Content Marketing is any marketing activity that involves the creation and sharing of information in an attempt to gain new business. This can be a very effective strategy within the professional services sector where ‘word-of-mouth’ has always been a key factor in winning clients.
Celebrated online marketing strategist David Meerman Scott once said that marketers should “earn their way in”. This is a great ethos to begin with when planning how Content Marketing will work for your firm. The use of high quality, valuable content is a fantastic way in which you can ‘earn’ your client’s business.
There are many different forms of content that can be created and firms may choose to use one or more methods from the brief list below:
- Blog posts and articles
- Videos and webinars
- Images and infographics
- Podcasts and recordings
As with any marketing activity, a Content Marketing strategy needs to be planned with clear objectives set out from the start.
What are you anticipating to achieve from your Content Marketing activity?
Are you intending to promote it as part of your outbound marketing activity? This is an option and can be a very effective way of utilising traditional firm-promoting techniques.
Are your goals broader and longer-term? For example, you might be aiming to increase general brand awareness and the presence of your firm in the mind of your target client.
Maybe you have heard of the benefits of sharing valuable content and the effect that this has on Search Engine rankings. If you are hoping to attract more visits to your website, why content over other SEO methods, key words or link building for example?
There are a number of conflicting answers to this question, but the general school of thought within the industry at the moment seems to suggest that even if you have an SEO function that is performing as you want at the moment, the ever-changing algorithms of the search engines means that you may be at risk in the future. Thus it is thought to be prudent to embrace a Content Marketing strategy, be it instead of or in addition to your current online activity.
A step-by-step method to apply to your inbound marketing activity is described in an article by Business2Community, ‘The New 5 Step Inbound Marketing Methodology’, the steps being as follows:
1) Attract Traffic
2) Convert visitors to leads
3) Convert leads to sales
4) Turn customers into repeat higher margin customers
5) Analyse for continuous improvement
It is important to keep these steps in mind and to approach Content Marketing as inbound activity as part of your firm’s greater brand-building movement, rather than as a tool to generate sales directly.
Done well, your content will play a key role in your firm’s inbound marketing strategy. Good content has a value to your audience. It gives you a platform from which to establish yourself and your firm as an expert in your field, a ‘thought-leader’. This should give clients and potential clients confidence in your firm’s ability to meet their needs.
Ensure that the plan that you have developed is consistent. Content needs to be created and shared on a regular basis if your strategy is to succeed.
Once created, there are many ways in which you can share your content. Post it to your blog or your website, add to your social media profiles, contribute to online groups or discussion forums, or distribute it in newsletters – be they printed or emailed.
No matter which form you decide to create your Content in, remember the “3 i’s” – anything you produce should be ‘interesting, inviting, and informative’.
Know your audience. Write for your audience.
For example, you firm specialises in providing employment law advice to SMEs and Start-ups; by implementing your Content Marketing strategy you are aiming to increase awareness of your firm’s expertise by producing content that is useful to business owners struggling with staff related matters. You intend to create content that is shared by others online and helps to increase your website’s ranking in search engines. You will also be sharing your content to your database of clients and contacts directly via newsletters and e-mail bulletins.
The first question you need to ask yourself is; what do your target clients want to read? What do they want to know? Think of the 3 i’s – keep it interesting, inviting and informative.
Going back to the example of the employment firm above, think about frequently asked questions relating to managing employees. Pre-empt the questions that your targets are likely to be asking and generate content that answers them. Look on forums to see if you can identify a trend. Create guides and flow-charts – don’t be afraid to give away information as the chances are if you’re not, someone else is. Always use language that is accessible to your reader – don’t be tempted to try to impress them with lots of legal-speak.
It is not always easy to generate content of such a high quality that it going to achieve what you have set out to do. It is also time-consuming. Depending on the goals that you are seeking, it may be that it works for you to outsource the writing of your content. There are some very good providers available.
This article really only scrapes the surface of the various opportunities that a good Content Marketing strategy can bring. In a profession that is built on the supply of knowledge and expertise, it seems only natural that the legal industry utilise this type of activity in order to grow.