Legal marketing has changed more in the past two years than in the previous 50. The digital economy has forever altered the way lawyers and law firms interact with their clients. Content Marketing has emerged as a central focus and key driver of success in the new digital landscape. This trend is evident across all industry segments, for B2B and B2C law firms alike.
According to Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is, “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” While there are several other definitions on Content Marketing, they all tend to agree that the primary focus of such an effort is on delivering valuable content to your target audience in order to get something in return.
For law firms and lawyers, this concept still apparently presents a formidable challenge. While many law firms do create and publish substantive content in the form of client memorandums and newsletters, they usually do little to package or present this content effectively so as to engage with their target audience. Far too often we see law firm alerts and newsletters that are full of legal jargon and merely re-state the facts of a new case or statute instead of providing useful insight, commentary or analysis. Furthermore, when it comes to distributing content on social networks, law firms tend to be satisfied with pushing out announcements of new assignments, awards received or their latest ranking on Chambers. I assure you this is not the sort of information your clients want to hear about on Twitter.
Your clients and prospects aren’t as concerned about awards and rankings as much as they are about themselves and the problems or issues they are facing. So law firms and legal marketers need to develop a strategy for creating and publishing content of good enough caliber and in sufficient quantity in order to attract and retain their clients’ digital mindshare. They need to place themselves in the shoes of their clients and prospects and figure out what problems or issues they are facing. Then they need to figure out how to create content that is free of jargon and addresses those problems. In other words, law firms need to think and act like traditional content publishers.
We see most large law firms struggling, to varying degrees, as they face this set of new challenges. Up until now the standard playbook for law firm CMO’s relied on traditional tactics such as issuing press releases, designing a new firm brochure or display ads and responding to RFP’s. The move towards Content Marketing involves a significant shift in emphasis and requires a radical departure from the current way of doing business.
So what should a law firm do in order to jump-start a content marketing program? Not surprisingly given current market trends, the Internet is awash with offers from a whole host of companies that claim to be experts in content marketing methods and techniques. Suddenly there’s a dizzying array of services from Communications agencies, free lance copywriters, web development shops, advertising agencies, social media consultants and SEO companies, all of whom are looking to jump on the content marketing bandwagon, with promises to help your law firm “stand out from the competition”, “create a huge followings on social media”, “achieve higher search engine rankings”, and so forth.
At Good2BSocial we have a very different way of thinking about these issues. We don’t start out worrying about Facebook likes or search engine ranking or by promoting one particular new blogging platform. We think there are much more fundamental problems that a law firm needs to address first. As a threshold matter the firm needs to begin thinking and acting like a publishing company, that is why we have recently launched The Legal Writers Bureau, a new venture to help legal businesses produce stronger and more valuable content for their clients. The Legal Writers Bureau gives law firms and legal companies access to an elite team of award-winning writers and editors who can assist them with an array of content options. For most law firms this is simply not part of the expertise they currently have in-house. It most definitely requires some digging and fresh thinking outside the confines of the traditional law firm sandbox. Our team of top journalists who have written for and edited some of the best-known and well-respected publications in the legal industry, including The American Lawyer, The National Law Journal, The New York Law Journal, Corporate Counsel, Law Technology News, and Law.com, among others have the expertise and know how to create content that converts.
Developing the instincts and knowledge necessary for any law firm to succeed as a content publisher does not happen overnight. A new marketing framework may be necessary in order to leverage the distribution of content across social media channels. And then data will need to be routinely collected and analyzed as part of a new business process so that the types of content being created can be regularly modified to enhance performance. This process can begin to sound like a series of daunting tasks, but frankly that is precisely why we’ve been so busy lately — helping our clients begin to sort these issues out and get them on the path to a content marketing strategy that converts.
Updated and republished March 17, 2017.