John Bowie* Few law firms are going to turn down the chance to get new clients – still fewer are going to use the opportunity to lose existing clients. That’s where a good content marketing strategy pays dividends for law firms.
So as law firms increasing find the increased competition, increased pressure from low-cost law service providers, increased resistance to fee levels then the need to really focus on client retention issues, so too they turn to marketing as a way to achieve both objectives.
What IS Content Marketing
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing thus:
… 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
The key points here are to provide (a) valuable content, (b) relevant content, (c) consistent content and over a long term.
It is not a quick-aim-fire routine.
It is steady-as-she-goes – dripping out great value consistently.
And it will provide benefits for your audience going way beyond anything else for very little cost – other than imparting your knowledge.
So what are the key factors in starting a content marketing strategy that will work?
Here are five that any attorney can start using to market their legal practice now
1. Tell a Story
Story telling is at the heart of good advertising.
With enticing content, cliff hangers, compelling storylines.
In the new digital world, content marketing is one of the keys towards efficient marketing and legal marketing trends are increasingly changing.
Take an example with soap operas and companies like Netflix, for instance.
Okay, so how about today?
Well, any ideas what’s similar to a soap opera today? Cliffhangers…binge watching episodes…opera-like drama…
Doesn’t that sound an awful lot like Netflix?
Netflix now has 60 million subscribers, the $10 per month streaming subscription service is looking at around $6 billion in revenues in 2015.
A few years ago Netflix started producing its own shows such as House of Cards, and, more recently, Daredevil.
We all know about viral videos and how they work . . but quality, original content can literally swamp your site in traffic.
But the real point is that when you have an a article or video online you can continue to reap the rewards – in terms of the content and the keyword searches it garners – for years to come.
The Volkswagon Super Bowl ad from a couple of years ago continues to do so, as you can see:
2. Do Quality . . And Do It Often
As law marketing expert Michele Ruiz, author of ‘Content Marketing for Lawyers’ pointed out in a recent law firm marketing article:
Today’s clients are more sophisticated and highly informed. The smartphone has made information available at our fingertips at any time, no matter where we are. Much of the information that influences how potential clients choose a lawyer is based on content found online via search engines, websites and social media.
Providing quality content online is a highly effective way to spread your law firm’s social media ‘message’ and brand, but to also cost effectively build your firm brand and win new clients.
The focus needs to be on the client – new and existing.
By providing quality, useful content that is very specific to the client you will be able to build your credibility, trust and law firm brand.
3. Adopt a Content Marketing Strategy?
The actual content marketing strategy you employ can vary greatly. It can also encompass a variety of different media.
There appears to be a near-endless variety of strategies that lawyers might use to attract new clients and retain existing ones: video, blogs, special reports and white papers.
Whatever is chosen, the key should be to provide real value.
Powerpoint presentations, for instance, or webinars can be used to provide important legal insights in key areas of concern, sharing that important “how to” information.
For attorneys who are working with words everyday, using video and blogging are two simple-to-start ways to get content “out there”.
If you want a great way to get a road map towards achieving a high quality output then you can do a lot worse than study Ann Handley’s “Writing GPS”. It’s top tips from a top authority in the content marketing and blogging area:
Sharing content is part of the key towards obtaining online success with a good content marketing strategy.
You need to use the social media platforms, particularly LinkedIn, SlideShare, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. By reaching a large social media audience you also have the opportunity to reach journalists and others who can find your useful commentaries online.
Once you become a go-to source of information your potential reach is exponential. You can reach a huge audience by achieving a ‘quotable value’ success rate that means you’re able to reap the rewards of being a trusted, reputable and knowledgeable law-source.
The groundwork for establishing that credibility comes from two main activities:
- Creating genuinely useful and actionable content, and
- Dispersing the content via the key social media channels.
Creating useful content benefits everyone – you, your client and the public.
A report in Trial Lawyer Marketing Broadcast, Search and Social Strategies described work by attorneys in the mesothelioma area, where a network of 9,500 accounts produced 50,000 posts discussing the medical, social, personal, and legal issues surrounding asbestos and mesothelioma during a three-week period.
The point is, you do not need to control that platform or media channel, but if you engage with it and develop and provide useful and genuine content, your voice will be heard and your audience (read: Potential clients) will be listening.
5. Establish Authority and Tone
You want to avoid legalese. Write in a conversational manner that clients and journalists can not only understand, but which can also show your abilities as an effective communicator.
You’re creating a media personality and presence that will be repaid in spades.
Using good and easy to understand language that resonates with your audience is the key towards establishing a conversation with them and helping your firm create the necessary authority to build a relationship and clients.
Take the case of Kazan Law, whose Twitter account provides a linkk to the Meso Cancer Circle, providing key information and resources for mesothelioma patients and survivors, letting them connect with specialists, treatment centers and others.
This ‘community building’ of those with specific issues or questions is an ideal way to d eliver content to an audience that can be accurately targeted weith social media.
Other firms are doing likewise, such as Lieff Cabraser, Nichols Kaster and the like in the areas of data privacy and data security.
The key with these marketing initiatives is that the key influencers who dominate the conversation are those who are actively engaged with social media, producing valuable content in the social media space and developing their authority and ‘voice’ in the whole content marketing arena.
6. Forget SEO
Okay, don’t exactly forget it, but at least don’t agonize over search engine optimization and pay per click advertising.
You can still use these tools and methods of course, but the fact is attorneys are increasingly turning to social media and content marketing to achieve their client-getting and client-retention goals.
- In the United States almost one-fifth of law firms have made investments in content generation in the past two years alone as content marketing takes hold;
- Sixty percent of US law firms have hired a content generation or management service to handle their content marketing objectives.
The result of these activities is that many law firms, such as trial attorneys, are developing content-rich websites focused upon specific areas of interest such as dangerous drugs, which will connect the user to doctors and other valuable information.
Using these tactics provides the relevance, authority and focus necessary for a successful content marketing campaign and will show the authority and trust developed by the law firm that provides the content.
The links from the content to the host law firm can drive valuable, targeted leads to the firm, thus building the necessary clients.
So get started and begin by sharing. You don’t need to embrace every social media platform, just blog, or tweet, or join LinkedIn – but start!
And by sharing genuine and useful content you will start developing your online following, so that you also create content and followers that in turn translate into clients.
Let us know your experiences, or comment below on your own content marketing tips.
John Bowie publishes LawFuel.com