Marketing, you may have noticed, has made a monumental shift over the past few years—the traditional one-way marketing message push businesses largely employed has been replaced, instead, with the power of social marketing: conversations that earn trust, provide value, and ultimately, drive business.
One of the key cornerstones of this new marketing ethos is content marketing—the practice of putting valuable content, for free, into the hands of potential clients to build trust and awareness. I know what you’re thinking: Work, for free?
In a world where clients and buyers control more of the decision making process than ever before, the benefits of content marketing are too numerous to ignore, and law firms looking to maintain a competitive edge in client acquisition can’t afford to remain off of the content train much longer. So what’s a law firm looking to break into content marketing to do?
1. Cast a narrow net
If niche law is a way to define your practice and differentiate yourself from your competitors, creating niche law content is a great way to multiply this effect online. Are you targeting startups with IP law services? A blog focusing on emerging Intellectual Property issues is a great way to position yourself as an authority. Looking to work exclusively in Bitcoin and cryptographic currencies? Put out a newsletter highlighting legal issues in the space. Even crofting, a highly specialized area of law pertaining to land usage, can provide fodder for content. The benefits of creating niche content are plentiful, not the least of which being that your search engine rankings will increase as search engines give preference to websites that have targeted and relevant content.
2. Analyze that
Randomly flinging content into the void of the Internet is great, if you like wasting your time. But ensuring that your content marketing efforts are being spent wisely requires nearly constant monitoring, tweaking, and analyzing to ensure your content is having an impact. First, understand why you’re doing it—is your goal visibility and awareness? Generating leads? Converting prospects to paying clients? Once you understand the why, look at the how: ‘likes’ and shares are great for visibility, but they won’t necessarily convert a client. Consistently monitor and optimize content, delivery, tactics, and headlines, even once you’re finding success, because nothing kills a content marketing buzz faster than resting on your laurels.
3. Remember that the best content is a conversation
Again, marketing is no longer a one-way message—it’s about earning trust. And the best way to build trust in a business relationship is to engage in authentic, meaningful conversation. Don’t just post content to your blog once a week to hit an arbitrary content marketing quota (fun fact: that quota doesn’t exist). Respond to comments, communicate via social media, treat the Internet like one huge perpetual networking event. People will see that you know what you’re talking about, positioning you as an authority, and you’ll get more opportunity to convince prospective clients that they need your services, as well as getting a better feel for what your prospective clients are looking for, generating more content ideas. It’s a win/win! Which bring us to our next point…
4. Know thy audience
For content to truly succeed, it needs to resonate with your readers/listeners/viewers by being personal and contextual—in other words, you need to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. Without an innate understanding of your clients — their wants, their needs, and how, exactly, you can help to solve (or at least alleviate) their problems, your content will likely fall on deaf ears, no matter how great it is. Know who you’re producing content for, what you want to say to them, and the right time to say it, and you won’t be able to keep clients away.
5. (A)lways (B)e (C)ontenting
Consistency is key to ensure that you don’t squander the audience you’ve built up with your great content. Whether you maintain a blog, podcast, or video channel, make sure you’re posting timely, relevant content on a consistent schedule; a week or month of radio silence can erode the trust that you’ve worked so hard to build. Set up a posting schedule or editorial calendar and stick to it.
There are those who will denounce content marketing as the latest flash-in-the-pan marketing technique in a world saturated with flash-in-the-pan marketing techniques. But when you couple an increasingly crowded legal services market in which the client possesses more purchasing power than ever before with the fact that the majority of clients are finding legal representation via the Internet, content marketing is something that can no longer be treated as an afterthought by law firms that hope to remain competitive.