twofortueNobody handles content marketing perfectly.

It’s not an exact science, and for the most part, it’s an ever-adapting process that we are constantly refining based on our current goals and audience needs.

But there are a couple of areas where lawyers and law firms go astray with content marketing, and that’s what we’re going to talk about in today’s Two for Tuesdays post. 

Blunder One: Goal? What goal?

A lot of times marketers will share the war story that a partner comes into their office and says, “hey, we need one of those blog things.”

Even if the marketer has been touting the benefits of blogging for a long time, they will inevitably put their head in their hands and sigh. Why? Because the partner doesn’t know why they want a blog. They’ve likely heard that they should have one or that Bob at their competitor firm has one, and he’s gotten some business from it or a reputation for expertise or more speaking engagements, or they saw a speaker present about why blogs are important.

These aren’t bad things, but they’re not strategic reasons for putting a content channel in place. That’s where goals and strategy come in.

Any time you want to put content out into the marketplace, it’s important to know what you’re trying to achieve, and how you plan to achieve it – as Winston Churchill said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”

Your first step is to know what your goal is – do you want to:

  • Grow your reputation?
  • Grow your network?
  • Business development?
  • Raise your profile?

All of these are valid goals for content marketing, and will help define the types of content and tone you want to put out there in order to achieve them. For example, if you’d like to get more speaking opportunities, it would make sense to focus on video content so that you can showcase your personality as a speaker.

Then, put your strategy in place to meet these goals.

  • How often will you produce content?
  • What kinds of topics will you focus on in order to meet these goals?
  • Where will you promote this content?
  • Who is your audience?
  • Who else can you enlist to assist you in this process?

There’s more to this process of course, but it depends on your individual goals as to what your ultimate strategy will be. But without goals and strategy, you’re just throwing jello at a wall and hoping something sticks – marketers like to call this “Random Acts of Marketing,” and they’re rarely successful.

Blunder Two: Me, Me, Me

Goals and strategy are important, but you can’t forget the other key ingredient – your audience.

I was reading an interesting article about what content marketers can learn from publishers, and one of the key things that struck me was this:

The best traditional publications are consumer-oriented, while brands often publish with a ‘me’ mentality. When a business becomes so focused on sales numbers, it can quickly turn off audiences with sales- or spam-like content. Traditional media, on the other hand, builds engaged, loyal audiences that it can monetize. By following the lead of successful publications, brands can use some of those dollars to attract qualified clients.”

Let’s rewrite this so it’s less sales-y and fits in with what we’re looking to do here:

The best traditional publications are consumer-oriented, while lawyers and law firms often publish with a ‘me’ mentality. When a firm becomes so focused on getting new clients, it can quickly turn off readers with promotional or spam-like content. Traditional media, on the other hand, builds engaged, loyal audiences that it can monetize. By following the lead of successful publications, lawyers and law firms can use some of those dollars to attract qualified clients.”

It can be tempting, with our goals in mind as we discussed above, to be focused on what we want to achieve and forget to be of interest to our audience. But what is it that your readers (or content consumers) actually want?

You can ask them, or you can look at other content producers in your market and see what they’re doing successfully (and not so successfully) and adapt it to your own strategy and goals. The article above suggests publications build these four traits into everything they publish, and that’s how they keep their audiences coming back for more:

  • Quality: This should be an easy one for lawyers – you’re smart, talented people who know what you’re talking about. But remember to temper quality with limiting the legalese.
  • Uniqueness: What is the “defining element” that you will bring to your audience that no one else in your area of the marketplace is offering? Make sure it’s something that your audience wants, and not just something you want to offer.
  • Consistency: I know many lawyers fear that they have to publish daily in order to be good content marketers – not true. But whatever your publishing schedule is, be consistent about it. If you publish weekly, make sure you publish every week.
  • Competitive Advantage: This is different from your “uniqueness” factor – this is about the value you deliver. Provide something of unmatched value to your audience in your content, and it will keep them coming back.

In order to avoid the two biggest content marketing blunders, make sure to have your goals and a strategy in place, and know your audience, and what they want (hint, they should be a key part of your strategy development).

What other blunders have you seen in content marketing?

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Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles recruitment, member retention, and a high level of service to members. She is engaged in the legal industry to stay on top of trends, both in law firms and law firm networks.

In her role as Executive Director, she develops and facilitates relationships among ILN member firm lawyers at 90+ law firms in 67 countries, and seeks opportunities for member firms to build business and relationships, while ensuring member participation in Network events and initiatives. These initiatives include facilitating referrals, the management and execution of the marketing and business development strategy for the Network, which encompasses all communications, push-down efforts, and marketing partnerships, providing support and guidance to the chairs and group leaders for the ILN’s thirteen practice and industry specialty groups, the ILN’s women’s initiative, the ILN’s mentorship program, the management and execution of all ILN conferences, and more.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

During her previous tenure as Director of Global Relationship Management, the ILN has been shortlisted as a Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer for 2016 and 2017, and included as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network since 2011. She was awarded “Thought Leader of the Year” by the Legal Marketing Association’s New York chapter in 2014 for her substantive contributions to the industry, and was recently included in Clio’s list for “34 People in Legal You Should Follow on Twitter.” She was also chosen for the American Bar Association Journal’s inaugural Web 100‘s Best Law Blogs, where judge Ivy Grey said “This blog is outstanding, thoughtful and useful.” Ms. Griffiths was recently chosen for as a Top Author by JD Supra in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, for the level of engagement and visibility she attained with readers on the topic of marketing & business development. She has been the author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking since February of 2009.