I’ve had an idea for a post noodling around in my brain for a few weeks, but I’ve been having trouble getting it to crystallize. Until yesterday, when I read Sayre Happich’s "Seven Content Marketing Tips for Lawyers."
All lawyers can benefit from content marketing. By creating targeted content — blog posts, articles, tweets — and pushing it out through the right channels, you can position yourself as a thought leader in a specific area of law. And, whether you are a solo practitioner or part of a megafirm, that can lead to more clients."
She is absolutely right. I’ve seen time and time again that the firms that are successful today are the ones who are sharing substantive content on a regular basis (there are other contributing reasons of course, but the same mindset that leads them to create substantive content and share it, is the mindset that helps them find success).
What I’m going to say next might be a bit controversial, but I’ll say it anyway – clients do not care about press releases announcing that an attorney was quoted in an article. They’re not going to do the work of first clicking through to the firm’s press release to see that someone was quoted, and then clicking again to get to the actual article – they’re too busy. That’s not substantive content. Even if something leads to substantive content, if you make it hard for your audience to find it, they will not take the time to do so.
Content is, as Sayre says, blog posts, articles, tweets, etc. But more importantly, it’s what’s IN those posts, articles and tweets – it can’t simply be a paragraph taken from another article or post with no new commentary or simply a link to another article, even if that article is substantive.
The reason for this is simple – it comes down to focusing on your audience. If your audience is made up of your clients and potential clients, they don’t want to see something that is self-serving for the firm, which is the case with any article that focuses on an attorney’s name or the firm’s name. They need to know, immediately from the title, why they should keep reading. You may remember we discussed that after Adrian Lurssen’s webinar:
Every title that you write should be with the purpose of earning your audience. Some firms will assume that because of their firm name, or the audiences they’ve developed, that they’ll already have readership. But the best content is written with the idea that you’re earning your audience by telling them why they should click in the first place."
True content marketing accomplishes this – authoring articles that matter to your clients. And how do you do this? In the remainder of her article, Sayre discusses seven tips from a panel at the 2013 Legal Marketing Technology Conference/West – I recommend reading these carefully.
Let’s think for a moment about an example of effective content marketing for a service provider – let’s say that your doctor writes a blog about his area of specialization. Doctors, like lawyers, are highly educated and have a specialized set of skills. When you’re looking for a doctor, you would, of course, want to make sure that he was well-thought of in his field and had the requisite awards and commendations – much like someone looking for a lawyer would want to know that your skills are top notch. You may not want to see this appearing regularly in your news feed, but it’s information you’d want to have access to when you need it.
Similarly, when reading something your doctor has written, you want it to be in plain English – sure, you’re a smart person, who understands medical terms, but something that’s explained directly to you is much easier and quicker to read and understand, and you’re a busy person, so that’s helpful.
If you subscribe to your doctor’s blog, you will likely gloss over the majority of posts that come across your desk, until a title pops up mentioning a disease or condition that you have, or a family member has. Then, you’ll read a little more in depth to see what he has to say about it.
If every post that comes up is a note that your doctor was quoted in a journal of medicine for something or won an award, I doubt that you’ll do the work of clicking on the link to read the full article. It simply will not happen. And if every post is like that, you’ll also start to wonder if your doctor is really good, or just really full of himself.
But when your doctor writes thoughtful, substantive articles in a way that gives you some information and comfort, so that you feel that you can speak to him intelligently about the things that are bothering you and fully understand the issues you face, you’ll feel much more confident in going to him with your medical issues and concerns.
It is the same for your clients.
Your clients are intelligent people, with legal issues and concerns. Just as reading your doctor’s blog isn’t going to prevent you from seeking a medical opinion when an issue comes up, reading your legal blog won’t prevent your clients from coming to see you when a legal issue comes up – in fact, it will give them a greater level of comfort that you’re the right one to help them with their individual issues. Good content marketing shows them not just that you’re smart and understand your field, but that you understand what worries them, how to fix that, and how to make sure they’re taken care of.
If you still aren’t convinced, keep in mind that your competitors are already doing this – consider a cocktail party analogy. If you spend all evening at a networking cocktail party standing along the wall and not talking to anyone, or just walking around and handing out your business card, while your competition is having discussions with other attendees about what’s going on in their business, who do you think is more likely to be hired? Even if you are the more qualified and experienced attorney, the one who creates and nurtures those relationships with clients will be the one getting hired every time.
So take a moment to consider what you’re publishing, if anything – make sure that it’s what your clients and potential clients want.