Publishing articles in legal journals is a strategy many attorneys use to demonstrate their expertise and build their legal profile with colleagues. Many law firms and attorneys use advertising and public relations to market their services and promote their business. Content marketing is a smart strategy for lawyers and law firms to increase their online visibility and establish themselves as SME: Subject Matter Expert.
Content marketing is storytelling: today’s consumers don’t want you to tell, they want you to show.
According to Greentarget’s 2014 digital and content marketing survey, only 25% of law firms have a documented content strategy.
Content marketing is not advertising; instead, content marketing is branding: a way to increase your online visibility, broadcast your skills and demonstrate you are a thought leader in your field. Content marketing uses tools that are practically free: social media and blogging. But content marketing is cost-effective, not free. There is enormous competition for online visibility: getting highly ranked on a Google search is very difficult. There is a cost in terms of resources to create and implement a content marketing strategy that improves your brand and delivers your message to your target audience. And as we’ve see too often on social media, the cost of doing content marketing poorly can be bad PR and a negative backlash… or no results at all.
Content marketing is not a fad: the internet is here to stay. Your potential clients are online: attorneys and law firms need to be online to attract new business. Here are five steps for attorneys to begin developing their content marketing strategy.
5 Content Marketing Tips for Lawyers and Law Firms
1. Identify Your Target Audience
Are you using content marketing to reach other attorneys, or to reach potential clients? Your content’s tone and voice must speak to your target audience. If your target audience is potential clients, your goal is to NOT write like a lawyer. Most of your potential clients are probably not lawyers, and while they want to have confidence in the knowledge and skills of their attorney, they also want to understand what they’re saying. Be authentic: but remember your audience and create content that is direct and professional, but not necessarily legal.
2. Choose Your Social Platforms
Three of the most effective content marketing platforms for attorneys and law firms are:
- LinkedIn: Your LinkedIn profile and postings establish your brand and your skills. Your profile image is your 1st impression. An optimized profile with strategic use of keywords and links to your portfolio or published writings are easily found by colleagues, reporters and potential clients. Regular posts, comments and Likes on LinkedIn keep your profile in front of your contacts. Build your LinkedIn contacts, join groups and follow Pulse articles to find relevant information to share.
- Emails and Newsletters: Interesting and educational newsletters are an excellent way to remind past clients of your services, and satisfied clients are likely to share your news with their contacts.
- Facebook: A professional Facebook Page (not a personal page) is a good opportunity for lawyers to share interesting content, post information about your practice and services, and keep in touch with current and potential clients in your community.
3. Promote Your Niche
Your content marketing strategy must clearly identify your expertise so a prospective client knows if you provide the services they are looking for. If your content – your social media profiles, your blog, your articles – don’t explain what type of law you specialize in, why will a potential client want to contact you?
4. Write a Blog
A blog is an excellent way to demonstrate your skills and expertise in a way that connects with your readers. Search engines “read” blogs and use sophisticated algorithms to grade and rank websites, and the regular addition of quality content – blogs – helps your website to get ranked higher. SEO – Search engine optimization – is a strategy used in creating blog content – words and images – that conveys important information and gets your website pages ranked higher by search engines: and makes it easier for people to find your website.
But be ware: poorly written blog content, or blogs that are blatant attempts to rank higher and have little real value, can result in your website getting ranked lower on search engines.
Blog topic ideas:
- Newsjack and blog about a legal story that’s popular in the news: people are still talking about the woman who sued McDonalds because her coffee was hot! Hot topics are more likely to get noticed by your audience.
- Answer client questions and prospective client questions. Do all of your initial client consultations cover the same two or three questions? Your legal blog is a good place to ask and answer those questions.
- Brag about your accomplishments and successes. When you publish an article, are interviewed for a news story or a book, win an important case, or take on a new partner don’t just send out a press release. Share your news on your blog so its easily found online and by visitors to your website.
- Share your interests and what you do when you’re not practicing law. Many successful blogs don’t talk about the business at all: instead, they relate to the reader on a more personal level. If you’re an avid fisherman, a couple blogs a year about your fishing trips and a photo of your big catch give you and your blog personality.
5. Hire a Professional Content Marketer
If you made it through law school and passed the bar, you probably have the intelligence to do your own content marketing: but do you have the time? Just as you’d recommend an injured person hire an attorney instead of trying to file a lawsuit on their own, a professional social media manager and blogger can work with you to develop and implement a content marketing strategy that meets your goals and budget:
- legal infographics can be used on social media to educate and attract potential clients
- videos on your website and social media to attract interest and establish yourself as an expert and demonstrate your speaking skills
- updating your blog on a regular basis is necessary – but probably near the bottom or your to-do list. A professional blogger can write blogs on topics you want to demonstrate knowledge on, using your voice, and publish them and share them on social media
Designing a content strategy is an important step for lawyers to build online visibility and establish themselves as thought leaders and subject matter experts. Producing quality content and publishing on social platforms on a regular basis is a strategic marketing plan to improve the social profile for attorneys and law firms.