Don't just write – plan
Content marketing is an excellent way of positioning your business and driving growth, but for it to be effective you need a strategic plan for colleagues to follow
As a former lawyer, I remember fondly conversations about marketing. Generally short, they usually ended with a decision to plan some client events and send out a briefing or two. Strategic marketing planning was low on the list of priorities and there were always fee earning, client meetings and office management to occupy our days fully.
Most firms now realise the importance of marketing and in particular the benefits of the internet. This has resulted in a deluge of information and content being sent out into the ether.
Lawyers like to write – be it pleadings, contracts, wills. They are used to putting pen to paper, crafting words to persuade, bind and gift. Precision is the key and less is very often more. Yet when it comes to efforts to connect with their clients, and potential clients, these principles are often lost.
Marketing with content
Whenever you or anyone in your firm tweets, posts on LinkedIn or sends a blog or newsletter to clients you are practising content marketing. Content marketing is an excellent way of positioning you, and your business, as a trusted authority in the legal sector. It can also assist in improving your Google search rankings and make it easier for you to be found online.
But it needs to be done strategically. Indeed, according to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is defined as: “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.
Arguably the most important words in that definition are “valuable” and “relevant”. Take those out and all you are committing to is the production of content that you will post in real life, or on the web, hoping it will reach people who are interested in it. Content marketing is more than that. It is about education, not simply promoting your goods and services to the world at large. The aim is to be the go-to place to answer prospective clients' questions.
To do that you need to know who you are targeting, and what they are likely to want to know. You are anticipating their needs and providing solutions at the click of a mouse. In the process of doing this you are also building your reputation as an authority in your area of law, so when they require the services of a solicitor they are more likely to choose you over someone who is silent. Ultimately your aim is to make sure your content is present, and the most relevant, in the sea of information that a potential client will dive into when “googling” for information. And as the definition suggests, the strategy is a long game, with consistent, regular publishing the key to success.
Steps to a strategy
So, if producing great quantities of content is not the answer, nor silently letting the opportunity pass, what should you do?
First, create your strategy and document it. By doing so everyone involved in producing content in your organisation will know the overall goals and aims. To do this, consider the following:
- Aim and goals – Why are you creating content and what value will it provide? This should also encompass a consideration of how often you will publish, as this is one way in which content production can boost your search engine rankings.
- Audience – Who is your target client and how will they benefit?
- Message – What specific, unique, valuable and informative content will you create?
- Channel – Which channels will you use to promote your content? When starting out it is often better to select one or two channels so that the impact of your campaign is easier to measure. Facebook is better for individuals, LinkedIn for business targets, and email remains the most effective channel for all audience types.
- Medium – What type of content are you going to produce? Content can come in many forms. This is perfect for finding an angle for you and your firm, that reflects the firm and its personality (or personalities…). More traditionally content is written, but it doesn’t have to be.
Decide who will manage this strategy, and most importantly how you will gauge performance. If you are using online channels then analytics packages can make measuring very specific goals incredibly easy.
By planning what you are writing, providing thought leadership on topics of interest and distributing to the right channels, you will become the consistent, trusted source of information for clients, and in turn, their go-to lawyers. Your strategy can evolve and change as you measure what works and what doesn’t. This frees you up to develop relationships and help grow your business, as well as giving you more time to do all the work that is generated.
Katy Nisbet works as a consultant to law firms, advising on their marketing requirements
t: 07721 829939