Today’s Two for Tuesdays is coming to you from Taormina, Sicily, where I’m preparing for our Annual Meeting, which officially begins on Thursday (for our delegates – I’ll be putting the finishing touches on the details tomorrow!).
But for now, I want to focus again on content marketing – specifically a couple of categories that may be useful to lawyers producing content. Content marketing can sometimes seem daunting, and some of the ideas suggested too “new-fangled” or “out there,” but in this post, I’ll be bringing you a couple of ideas for blogging or videos (or any other creative means of delivery) that I promise you’ll be comfortable with.
Tip One: Use Case Studies – But Make them Compelling
This may be something that you’ve already adopted into your content marketing mix, but just in case you haven’t, case studies are an excellent place to look for content. Obviously not every case will be a good candidate, but some will provide interesting stories that will highlight your creativity and expertise, as well as your ability to advocate for your client. And even better if you can get them to co-author the piece with you.
Typically, you want to follow the format of presenting a challenge, what the solution was, and the end benefit. But Content Marketing Institute offers some excellent tips for making case studies easier to write, and more interesting to read in this article by Gretchen Dukowitz.
Dukowitz focuses on three main points for us:
- Interview a real, live person
- Edit the heck out of your quotes
- Blow things out of proportion
I can almost see the lawyers in the group getting itchy about this, but I promise that she’s not advising anything unethical. Let’s delve in a little bit.
Interview a real, live person
As I alluded to before, if you can arrange to co-author a case study with a client, that’s an excellent idea – clients want to be doing more writing with you, and it will make the piece more interesting to readers. Plus, you’ll have the bonus of not only you being motivated to share the finished piece, but your client as well.
As Dukowitz says:
Case studies are stories. They have narratives and need to be rooted firmly in the experience of the customer. You can get all of these things by talking to one. The end result is a strong case study with a clear beginning, middle, and end, as opposed to a Frankenstein-assembled story that you put together from random parts.”
Content marketing is really about storytelling. “But we’re lawyers!” I can hear you protesting. Yes, but you still have to be able to tell a compelling story about your practice and expertise so that people will hire you. Word-of-mouth marketing is other people telling your story for you; content marketing is YOU getting to tell that story.
Edit the heck out of your quotes
On this point, Dukowitz says:
You are not being held to some journalistic standard that says you must reproduce all customer utterances word for word (not even journalists adhere to this standard, by the way). You can – make that should – edit and embellish quotes to make their point more effectively.”
However, she’s also careful to point out that you do then return to the person who said the quote and clear it with them first – that’s why this is still ethical. You’re cleaning up the quotes to make them fit into your story better, and make it more of an effective piece, but you’re also making sure that those you’ve interviewed are fine with that.
Blow things out of proportion
This one is again about storytelling, and not about exaggeration. You want to define the issues in your case study right away in a way that will engage the reader and make them want to continue reading – it should also tell them why and how the following case study will be relevant to them. (For an example of this, read the full post from Dukowitz).
On this point, she says:
The first sentence of your case study should always speak to a broad business issue and provide context for the reader. This provides a better chance that readers will identify with the broader challenge even if they are not in the study’s specific vertical or business.”
So whether you’re already using case studies as a part of your content marketing, or you have yet to include them, those are some excellent tips for how to further develop them to make them more interesting, and to a wider audience.
Tip Two: Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is another category of content marketing that you should be taking advantage of as a lawyer – it has HUGE benefits for you as an author and content provider:
- Depending on the caliber of guest blogger, you’re reinforcing your reputation as a thought leader in the industry by aligning yourself with the top players. You can start small, and build up to asking more well-known bloggers or personalities to guest post, so that you’re more likely to get a yes, and over time, you’ll be known as the place to be to see the top experts in your field.
- It’s a relationship-builder – not only are you drawing attention to your blog from the audience, but you’re also connecting with others in your industry and niche, showcasing them (which is flattering), and starting a relationship with them that may prove to be valuable.
- If you know you have a busy time coming up with work, you can schedule them in advance. There is still work involved in managing guest bloggers (it’s not as if you hand over the keys to your blog and say “good luck!”), but depending on your own blogging process and content generation, it can be less time consuming that developing your own posts.
- As much as your readers love to hear your “voice” all the time on your blog, it can be refreshing to get new perspectives and different “voices” from other bloggers. Sharing the spotlight is great to round out the breadth of your blog in a way that your audience will appreciate.
So now that you’re sold that guest blogging is for you, who should you ask? You can look to clients, potential clients (that’s an EXCELLENT way to start a relationship with someone you’ve been trying to get a foot in the door with, by the way), your colleagues, other industry experts, consultants, and others (it depends on your niche as to who makes sense – you’ll know).
If you’re ready to get started with asking people, there are a couple of things you’ll want to keep in mind. The first is that you’ll want to put a process in place. For example, something like this:
- Put together some brief guidelines for posting to your blog – what is it about, is there a word target, subject line guidelines, etc., do you need categories and tags from them, or will you assign those, same with images. Also identify a deadline for delivery of the post, as well as a publication date (the two should not be the same date, so you have time to review and edit if necessary)
- Identify your guest blogger.
- Reach out to them, preferably by email, but you can also use social media if you don’t have direct contact information for them. Tell them why you’d like them to be a guest blogger, what the guidelines are, the rough deadline (if you have one, or leave it open-ended if you’re comfortable with that), and invite them to ask any questions and let you know if they’re willing to participate.
- If they confirm, thank them and respond with a date that you’ll follow up with a reminder about the post (a day or two before the deadline is fine). You should also share with them at this time who your target audience is and what they expect, if the guest hasn’t asked already.
- Set up a calendar reminder to reach out. If you haven’t received the draft by that date, do so.
- Review the draft, and discuss any comments or changes with the guest blogger. If the changes are minimal, you will still be able to post on the publication date, but if they’re substantial, you’ll have to handle it delicately, and revise the publication date.
- Publish when you have the final draft and publicize widely. Make sure to tag them in any social sharing posts.
- Follow up with the guest to share the link and suggest that they may want to share it with their audiences as well. Let them know where you’ve shared it.
- Follow up again with any comments or feedback you receive – especially invite them to respond to any questions on the post that they may not see.
If the post was really good and resonates with your audience, you may want to consider reaching out to them again for another guest post in the future – in that case, give yourself a calendar reminder to do so in another few months.
Also, set up a system by which you can note to yourself who you’d like to have guest post for you. It can be anyone that you think would be suitable, from those who are very likely to say yes, right up to your dream guest bloggers – my fellow legal marketers and I have asked a few high profile people to do webinars for us, or be guests on podcasts, and we’ve gotten a variety of responses from “No,” right up to “Absolutely!”
Since the worst someone can say is no, it’s ALWAYS worth asking them – and at the very least, you’ve also started a dialogue with that person, which is never a bad thing!
What tips would you add to these for case studies and guest blogging? Please share them in the comments!