Remember the days when you did good work and new clients came in and you didn’t have fancy words for all of your business development activities?
Well, those days are long gone.
But bear with me, we’re not diving into a jargon-filled abyss.
Let’s talk about turning your everyday actions into powerful connections in the world of marketing (lawyers, don’t worry, this really does apply to you).
In the past, we didn’t label our activities, but now everything has a name. Social media marketing, content marketing — terms that might sound daunting but really just describe what you’ve likely been doing for ages. It’s about building relationships, and it’s more relevant than ever.
We used to split kinds of marketers into two camps: the “broadcasters” and the “engagers.” Broadcasters spread their message without aiming for community, while engagers focus on building relationships through conversations. The latter is now termed “relationship marketing.” Simple, right?
So, why should you care? Because relationship marketing turns what you say into a connection, and, ideally, business. Let’s break it down for today’s world.
Tactic One: Inbound Marketing
“Inbound marketing” may sound fancy, but it’s just about actively pulling your community in, not waiting for them to engage. For lawyers, this means creating a dialogue, even if your audience tends to be more silent observers than active participants.
A note about the terms “community” and “audience” here – these sound VERY marketer-y for lawyers, but what I want you to think about when you hear them are the people that you’re trying to reach – we’re assuming that you’ve already decided on your goals and therefore, your “audience.” For example, if your goal is to bring in x number of new clients for this year in a particular practice area, you have a very specific group of people in mind as your “audience.” You know where those potential clients are: where they hang out online, what events they go to, where they network, etc. Similarly, if your goal is to become known as a thought leader for a particular area of the law, you will have a different kind of audience in mind – you will want to reach another group of people in specific places. Knowing where to find your audience makes the next part easy.
- Get the conversation started: Ask questions in your social media posts. Don’t just limit them to your blog; share them on Facebook or LinkedIn to invite broader discussions. If you’re writing articles, share them on social media and with emails. Invite discussion by having Q&As in your presentations or asking open-ended questions when networking in person.
- Use content proactively: Quote and engage with influencers and colleagues in your blog posts. Extend the relationship offline by connecting with them on LinkedIn and initiating in-person meetings or calls. Invite guests to be on your podcast or have a co-presenter with you on your panel (make it a client or a potential client).
- Share, share, share: Share others’ work within your specialty, tag them in your posts, and add your thoughts to drive conversations. Mention other podcasters or articles when you record or from the podium. Share articles that clients or potential clients may find valuable in an email.
- Engage back: Participate in others’ communities, comment on blog posts, and engage in LinkedIn groups to build reciprocity. Attend others’ panels and ask relevant questions.
Tactic Two: User Generated Content
User-generated content (UGC) is gold. It’s when your audience creates content, and it’s more powerful than anything you say about yourself.
- Write (or speak!) for your audience: Tailor your content to solve your audience’s problems. Encourage them to submit issues for consideration in your blog posts. This isn’t limited to bloggers – you can do this for articles, as the host of a podcast, for presenting, etc. Whatever type of content you’re producing, ask your audience to submit issues that are relevant to them – alternatively, use the questions that you get most often. Obviously, you’re staying away from anything that is going to veer into attorney/client privilege, but the broad issues that you cover often that make good general topics are excellent for these types of content. If there is an issue that one or more client is asking, or you foresee an issue that will affect multiple clients, put together some content that addresses it in a general way. When you speak about it competently, they’ll be happy to follow up with you on how it affects them specifically.
- Seed the content: Get your fellow lawyers involved transparently. Encourage them to participate in activities like sharing photos, using hashtags, and engaging on social media platforms to boost UGC efforts. Particularly the colleagues in your practice area or complementary can assist you in developing a dialogue around the topic that you’re looking to discuss and help to raise your profile – be prepared to help do the same for them!
In the age of social media and content marketing, law firms have a unique opportunity to not just showcase talent but also leverage these tools for relationship development. So, what’s your firm doing to make the most of relationship marketing and develop business connections?