Lawyers should be doing content marketing as a means of providing value and building up trust equity with clients/potential clients, as well as exhibiting your expertise. If you’re not engaging in content marketing to enable clients to find you and so you can answer their questions, here’s a primer about what content marketing is, what’s it’s not, and how to do it well.
What is content marketing?
Maybe you’ve heard of content marketing before, and maybe you have’t. So for the sake of making sure we are speaking a common language, I want to provide a definition. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as follows:
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
This blog is an example of content marketing. I’m providing you practical information about different ways to manage your clients, cases, and law practice. I’m not selling you something every day, but I do hope to provide you enough value that you will see additional value in buying my book, Stop Putting Out Fires. As concerns your practice, your content marketing should be done with the goal of attracting potential clients and providing them with information that will identify their problems for them and show them you have the expertise to resolve their issues.
To help discuss content market in a law firm context, I reached out to Karin Conroy of Conroy Creative Counsel, who helps lawyers with their websites. You can see from the image on the right side of the screen that she’s an ad partner for this blog, and that’s because I believe in her message. Below are Karin’s thoughts about how you can best utilize content marketing for your law practice.
1. In what ways is content marketing a long-game approach to success?
Content marketing is any strategic content your law firm shares with the public, such as social media posts, videos, or blogs. For most law firms, regularly scheduled blog posts can be helpful in engaging potential clients. However, blog posting should not be a haphazard free-for-all. Instead of writing whatever comes to mind on the day you scheduled a blog post to go out, a much more effective (and less stressful!) way to approach content marketing is by looking at the long game. You’ll want to come up with a list of topics relevant to your practice, decide how often you want to post and create a content marketing calendar that you can stick to. Commit to posting frequently to your blog for optimal results. We’ve all seen that website with the latest blog post from 2016 and it gives the visitor a bad impression of your ability to stay current and fresh.
2. Why should lawyers engage in content marketing?
Content marketing lets law firms share how they are different and establish their authority on a subject. What makes you uniquely qualified to serve your clients? Content marketing should express your unique value proposition, whether that’s your experience, your enthusiasm for the subject, your geographical location, or something else. A well thought out blog will explain your niche and attract your targeted audience. For example, if your firm specializes in estate planning, your blog should focus on questions pertaining to the problems that niche has, and how your firm can best solve those problems. A blog on a personal injury attorney’s website will have different content. Here’s your chance to attract your ideal clients and let them know that you’re the right attorney to help solve their problem.
3. What does good content marketing look like?
Good content marketing lets your visitor know they’re in the right place. As they’re reading your content they should be saying “this guys really understands me” to themselves. Your message shouldn’t come across as marketing. No one wants to be pitched to all the time. Instead of a salesman, picture yourself as a helpful colleague that has addressed their issue many times and knows answers to questions they haven’t even thought of yet.
Tell a story instead of selling yourself. How do you do this? Put the human element into your content by sharing what attracted you to this type of law or why you are passionate about your specialization. By exposing your human side, you will draw in the reader and make a connection between yourself and your potential client. Think about your favorite advertisements and the story they tell. How did the story engage you? Content marketing is a powerful tool for converting website users to leads to clients.
You can also use your blog as a chance to boost SEO for your website by sprinkling in relevant keywords in your blog posts. Try using Google’s Keyword Planner. For example, if you are a bankruptcy attorney in Los Angeles than using bankruptcy attorney Los Angeles or bankruptcy lawyer LA in your blogs can help boost your search rankings for those terms. However, don’t overuse these keywords (commonly called ‘keyword stuffing’), as Google will downrank you for that.
Make it easily readable by ensuring the content is broken up into easily digestible chunks with bulleted lists and appropriate headers and subheaders so your readers can scan through the post. The most important factors in content marketing are conveying your unique value proposition through storytelling, readability, and regularity.
4. What makes for bad content marketing?
Bad content marketing is a nuisance. We all have businesses on our email lists and social media that constantly throw out their sales pitch without ever providing value. What happens to those companies? Most of us eventually unsubscribe from their emails or hide their posts from our feeds. You don’t want to be the annoying pest!
No one enjoys constantly being pitched to, without any personalization or sense of what the business can offer you. Law firms need to carefully plan their content strategy to provide value for their target audience. Instead, offer your website visitors valuable content. For law firms, I highly recommend a white paper or legal guide on common questions. Make it clear your firm is the expert source for specific legal inquiries surrounding your specialization.
Lastly, just because you’re writing a white paper does not mean your content has to be overly long, rambling, or full of jargon. This is an easy way to lose your readers. Make it easy to read for the average person who has little to no exposure to legal terms. That’s it! Follow these rules to avoid bad content.
Good content marketing is not clickbait. It is not self-promotion. It is not a sales pitch. Good content marketing answers your the question your clients and potential clients have. Good content marketing is a proven and effective strategy for helping clients find you and enabling you to grow your business.
Photo by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann.