It feels good to be getting back into the routine after being away at LMA15! You’ll still be seeing a couple more recap posts from me (two, perhaps three), but today, we’re back to our regularly scheduled Two for Tuesdays, and yes, we’re still looking at content marketing.
As expected, content marketing was the buzz of the LMA too, and it’s not going away any time soon. Lest you start to panic, law firms have been producing content long before it was "cool" to do so – we’ve just now got a name for it.
But there are still challenges to doing so, and I see the results of them all the time. Let’s look at two of these challenges today, and how to overcome them, in our latest Two for Tuesdays. Thanks to The Wordstream Blog and their "11 Big Content Marketing Challenges (and How to Overcome Them)" for the inspiration!
Challenge One: Competition
What’s the old adage? There’s nothing new to say, just new ways to say it. As The Wordstream Blog’s post points out:
Whether you’re blogging about your small needlecraft business or enterprise-level IT hardware, someone else has already been blogging about it for a long time. To make matters worse, there has never been such intense competition for your audience’s attention."
This is something I hear a lot from lawyers – why should I bother producing content when someone else is already writing about the same things? Or, similarly, how can I stand out from everyone else when I’m writing about the same area of law?
The Wordstream Blog’s post says you have to strive for excellence, and of course, I agree with that – but let’s be honest, when we’re dealing with a profession known for its perfectionists, it’s not really a reach to expect that we’re already getting a lot of excellence, is it?
So where is the differentiation then? It’s in the people.
A friend and colleague of mine had recently posed this question in a professional group, and I told her that the key is injecting your own personality into your content. The way I’ve seen this work most effectively is when lawyers combine their passion for their subject with their own experience, humor, and personality – that gives it a unique flavor that doesn’t sound just like "everyone else."
It also gives potential clients someone to connect with directly. Some practice areas and individual lawyers will be better suited for that than others, of course, but the personal touch is an important differentiator.
It goes back to the idea of people wanting to do business with someone they know, like, and trust – when you give people someone to connect with, whether it’s in your writing, through video, or any other medium, they will find those bonds that not only keep them coming back to your content, but empower them to share it with others who will find it useful.
Challenge Two: Impatience and Unrealistic Expectations
I know that this is one my fellow legal marketers will sympathize with – we’ve all worked with someone who writes a blog post, or writes a 140-character tweet, and then within 24 hours says, "I didn’t get any work from this, clearly this content marketing stuff doesn’t work."
Here’s the thing – marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ve got to be in it for the long haul, and you have to be (buzzword alert) strategic about it.
What are your goals? What do you want to achieve? Make your goals measurable and actionable, with a defined and specific audience in mind. And be realistic with your time frame. Yes, there are stories of someone publishing a blog post and immediately getting work as a result – those are freak things that happen as a result of luck and perfect timing. They aren’t the norm.
As The Wordstream Blog says about this challenge:
However, the truth is that, even with a large and skilled content marketing team behind you, it can often take several years for content to start doing what it’s supposed to do."
This isn’t a flaw in content marketing itself, but rather a problem of expectations. Many executives and managers are used to the relatively immediate return on more traditional marketing strategies. Asking them to not only fund content marketing projects, but potentially wait several years for them to pay off, is a difficult pill to swallow."
So, how do we overcome this challenge? Wordstream tells us that it’s about managing expectations and coming to terms with the fact that content marketing takes time. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. Remind yourself that as I said above, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
But there are a few other things you can do, especially if you’re on the marketing team at your firm:
- Celebrate all wins: If something gets a lot of hits, or a comment by the right person or people, share that with the stakeholders and partners involved. If work happens as the result of content marketing, share that with EVERYONE.
- Track data like crazy: You’ll never know when you start to gain traction unless you’re keeping an eye on your metrics. You don’t have to be getting millions of hits to be successful at something, but you want to be making sure that you’re engaging with the right people. Keep an eye on where content is being posted, who is engaging with it, and what new influencers and amplifiers you may want to be in front of.
- Keep looking for champions: Presumably if you have a concentrated content marketing effort, you have some champions at your firm – but keep looking for more. Find those champions and empower them to help you share the firm’s content. You never know when the right person will get it in front of the person or people it needs to be in front of.
- Constantly improve: This is another content marketing challenge, the struggle to be constantly improving the quality of your content. But it will help with the drive to make content marketing successful – and as the Wordstream post points out, you don’t have to be better than some wildly successful magazine or blog; you just have to be better than your last post. Test what titles get the most attention, play around with blog and video length, try multiple formats – don’t be afraid of changing and improving until you find what works for you.
There are always content marketing challenges, but these are a couple of doozies in the legal industry. What content marketing challenges do you face at your firm, and what are you doing to overcome them?