I’m a big believer that every marketing tactic is not for everyone – we all have our strengths. Some people will be excellent public speakers, who enjoy sharing their expertise with large audiences. Others will be happy to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were) and write blog posts and articles. Still others will shine when you put them in a room full of strangers to network.
As many people as there are, there will be marketing tactics and ways of implementing them.
But I will say that if your firm is not creating and delivering content that can be shared in some way, you are missing out.
When I was growing up, content was created for you – if you wanted the news, you’d buy a newspaper or magazine and read a series of articles that were written by others and put together by others. The television news was the same. You had very little say over what was produced, other than using your purchasing or viewing power to reflect your likes and dislikes.
But today, everyone creates content, and as a result of technology, we can also customize what and how we’re consuming. I can create keywords in a blog reader that allow me to get articles and blog posts only about a certain topic, or I can follow tweets or Twitter users who share just the content that I care about. I can watch streaming videos online of just certain news stories, and not have to wait the entire hour to get to the one thing I’m interested in.
I’m not here to debate the merits of one system over another (though I’m sure that we could spend hours just on that). But I’m sure many people will wonder whether it’s worth producing yet more content to send out into the ether when it seems that everyone is already contributing their two cents.
And I’d argue that yes, it is. It’s especially important for lawyers.
The legal profession is entirely built on relationships. Sure, there will be those cases where it’s a question of "bet the company" and the client won’t care if they like their lawyers as long as they can achieve the results that they’re looking for. But that’s just a small percentage of the legal work out there. Most of the time, a client wants to feel comfortable that their lawyer understands them, their business, and what keeps them up at night, and will help them to implement the solutions that are needed in a way (and at a cost) that makes the most sense for their individual situation.
Creating content can help to deliver the message of the type of lawyer you are, and once it’s written, it’s out there speaking for you while you’re focused on other things. Billable-type things.
Most clients are going to gloss over the press releases that they see (if they see them) that so-and-so is a Super Lawyer or was quoted in the latest article on such-and-such topic. That’s not to say that these things don’t have merit – but they can’t be the only written items coming out of your firm. I’m never going to do the work of clicking through a press release to see the article that someone was quoted in, especially if the title is just that they were quoted in a certain publication, and not what the substance of that article was about. More importantly, perhaps, is that I’m also never going to share that with my networks, because I definitely won’t want to ask them to do extra work.
Similarly, while seeing that someone is a highly rated lawyer may reinforce my hiring decision at a later point, it is not going to be the first place I look. But someone’s content will help me to do my due diligence and feel comfortable with their expertise and personality before I reach out to discuss my particular issue with them.
These days, we find content and content finds us, all thanks to technology. Lawyers at firms can author blog posts or self-published articles – they can then use the networks they’ve created to share this content (Nancy Myrland talks more about how to do that here). From there, if it’s good, it will take on a life of its own – influencers and amplifiers will share it forward for you. It will live online and be searchable; it will become part of the history of your social media fabric – all while you continue to create other content and focus on your client work.
Writing may not be your thing, and that’s fine – if that’s the case, you can get your marketing department to interview you for your top tips in your practice area, and they can do the writing, or help you to turn your latest presentation into a blog post or series of articles. You can collaborate with one of your colleagues who may be a great writer on a piece that you can both be proud of.
These days, there’s no excuse for not producing substantive, valuable content. Because it’s something that everyone is doing, not doing it can often make people ask "why" and wonder whether the expertise is really there or not.
I often say to attorneys that if someone recommends them to a client, the first thing the client will do is google them. If a client googles you, and all that comes up is your firm bio – even if you are the best advocate in your practice area, it’s going to be human nature that the lawyer they google whose results show many, many substantive articles and blog posts on the same subject, video clips of interviews, a tweet stream full of his and others’ content, a robust LinkedIn profile, and more is going to get the work instead of you.
We all have things to say in the areas that we’re experienced in – why not start saying them today?