“Content marketing” is a huge and meaty topic, and it’s one that there are many, many facets to. We could talk about it for years (and I’ve already spent lots of Two for Tuesdays’ posts dissecting various aspects of it).
Today, I’d like to get a little bit back to basics, and look at three questions you probably have about content marketing, based on things I’ve wondered myself, things I’ve been asked, and conversations I’ve had with other legal marketers. Definitely add to the conversation on this one with additional questions you may have in the comments!
What IS content marketing?
We hear this term bandied about a LOT. It sounds fancy and it sounds very marketer-y, so I’m sure lawyers think “Yep, not for me!” and marketers think “Oh please, not something else I’m responsible for!” But the good news for law firms is that they’ve LONG been producers of content, and now we just need to refine the strategy and process a little bit to make it even more effective. Whew!
But first, let’s define it. Unsurprisingly, the Content Marketing Institute offers a great definition (actually a whole page of them, depending on your needs):
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Let’s make this a little more suitable for the legal industry, and also refine it a little, since, as someone pointed out in the comments, you’re not supposed to use the word when defining it.
Content marketing is a strategic approach, focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent information to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience. Depending on your goals, it can help you to engage with prospective clients, reinforce the decision of clients to hire you, enhance your reputation, generate personal and firm visibility, and more.”
Those sound like pretty good things right?
But that leads to question two, which was one I asked myself a LOT:
What tactics are used in content marketing?
It’s easy to get bogged down here. People hear content marketing, and they think, “Oooh, I have to get a blog!”
No, blogs are just one delivery tool for your content. There are many tactics you can use (I happen to like blogging, but it’s only a good tactic if it makes sense for you and your goals).
I’ve learned that there are five “story channels” (think of these as content marketing tool “buckets” if you will) that all of the tactics you can use for content marketing fall into:
Clearly, some of these overlap a little bit (and that’s okay), but these segment nicely, so that you can see some options for what types of tools may work best in your content marketing. I do want to make the point that you don’t START with tools (more on that in a minute), but since it’s a question that comes up a lot, I wanted to address it early on.
So what falls into these buckets, for example?
- Print: articles, books, custom publications
- Online: blogs, video, Q&As, case studies, SlideShare, images, white papers, ebooks
- In-person: presentations, conferences
- Mobile: apps, Instagram
- Social: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest
There are more, but that gives you an idea of some of the tactics you may want to use to achieve the goals that you set out in your strategy. Even better, you’re not limited to just one – and because there are many types, and everyone is so busy these days, you can very often take something that you’ve delivered using one tool, and repurpose it for use with another tool, reaching an entirely different audience (but without reinventing the content wheel).
Where do I start??
All of this information can feel overwhelming and sound really time consuming, but once you get it set up, the nice thing about content marketing is that it actually does a lot of the working of marketing you FOR you. You’re still responsible for developing the content, but once you’ve got your delivery systems in place, it will just be a question of releasing it out into the world and letting it market you.
But it’s got to start somewhere, and for me, it’s always with the WHY.
WHY are you doing this? What is your goal with this content marketing initiative?
And your goals can be varied:
- I want more speaking opportunities in my field of practice.
- I want more of this type of client.
- I want more media mentions in this area of practice.
- I want to become known as a thought leader for this type of law.
These are general, but when you’re defining your own goals, they should be both specific and measurable. How many speaking opportunities do you want? With which organizations? What types of opportunities – on panels, single speaker, keynote? What should the size of the audience be? What is my timeline for reaching this goal?
Each of your goals should have that level of thought put into it, because then it’s really easy to identify who your audience is going to be for your content, which tools you should focus on to deliver it, and in most cases, what you should write or share about in your content itself.
There are times you may actually be starting with the content already – perhaps a few of your clients are asking you the same question, so you’re already writing client alerts and sharing those with them via email, along with a few other clients that you think would benefit. Surprise – that’s content marketing!
You know two things – you can produce the content, and you can sustain the content. So now you want to figure out what the next step is, which is what is it that you want to achieve (again, go back to your goal). Then, you can identify how you amplify your existing efforts to achieve the goals you have in mind.
There are a LOT more questions to this content marketing stuff, of course, but those are my top three for today. As I mentioned, add your own questions into the comments (and if you’ve got questions you’ve been answering, please feel free to add those answers into the comments as well!).