There’s no question that law firms know content marketing can attract new leads, increase their client base, and establish their reputation as the authority in a specific niche. According to the 2014 State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey created by American Lawyer Media Legal Intelligence, The Zeughauser Group, and Greentarget, 84 percent of law firms stated that they expect to produce more content in 2014. That being said, most firms lack the proper strategy and resources to make a significant impact on their bottom line. Just a quarter of the firms surveyed have a documented content marketing plan, and only 29 percent have a dedicated professional overseeing content development.
Before joining Outbrain’s in-house legal team, I practiced corporate law at Day Pitney LLP. Just look at the 65 plus links under “News, Publications, and Presentation” on the profile page of Scott Breach, chair of Corporate & Business Law and Private Equity and Investment Funds, and it will be clear that developing content is key to their marketing efforts. If that isn’t enough to convince you, how about the 43 different law topics website viewers can subscribe to on the firm’s publication page. There’s no question that content is king in law firm marketing.
1. Be Inspired by the News
Ideas for content marketing are all around you; you just need to be aware of them.
Keep your finger on the pulse of emerging issues in your niche and use them in a process called “news jacking.” This technique involves taking recent developments in your practice area , like an important court decision or issuance of a new regulation, and providing your own opinions and commentary to it. Great examples of this technique are Avvo’s NakedLaw blog, which features expert commentary from acclaimed legal analyst Lisa Bloom and Latham & Watkin’s blog, Words of Wisdom.
News jacking ensures your content isn’t simply a regurgitation of existing media outlets, but a new perspective in the discussion. Your content will contribute to the conversation and engage an existing and potential client base. Writing about topical issues also improves your online visibility, enhancing and reinforcing your authority and expertise in the field.
It’s easy to set up Google Alerts that will notify you of any breaking stories relate to your niche area, but to really stay up-to-date use Shepard’s Alerts by LexisNexis. Take the ideas you find, blog about them with your unique thoughts on the matter. Then promote these posts via your social network channels, your newsletter, or other paid traffic sources.
2. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
While in-depth articles are critical to showcasing your expertise, if your goal is brand awareness, humor almost always wins. Take Morrison & Foerster for example. They have embraced the nickname “MoFo”, and it’s increased its name recognition exponentially. The practice really leans into it with this MoFo Women section of their website and this reference on their about page, “In many ways, the MoFo nickname is an affectionate reminder that while we are very serious about our clients’ work, we don’t take ourselves too seriously.” And check out this awesome video, MoFo Pro Bono: Great Causes, Great Work.
3. Have a Conversation With Your Clients & Show them You Care
Many law firms become so focused on the substance of their content that they forget about the human element to their practice. Content marketers can and should improve the overall customer experience by using a conversational tone and writing to engage. Consider what Mike Saraswat, Founder of Ekstasy, told Outbrain in an interview: “the potential for brands to have real, personalized conversations with their customers is one of the most exciting parts of content marketing.”
Take a look at Arnall Golden Gregory’s revamped website, launched to coincide with its new practices and offices. While the firm wanted to emphasize that it was a growing firm with high-end cases, its approachable copy stressed that the firm remained practical and personal. The simple phrase “not if, but how,” encapsulated the firm’s commitment to serving the needs of its clients. These efforts resulted in Arnall Golden Gregory receiving the award for best legal website in IAC’s 2013 Internet Advertising Competition.
4. Stick to Your Niche
You might think that a broad approach to content marketing will attract a more diverse range of clients, but it can be more effective to focus on your niche. This is a key part of thought leadership, a proven marketing method which can help position your firm as an expert within the legal industry. The Philly Truck Accident Attorneys blog mentioned above focuses on a fairly very narrow topic, but that’s one of the key reasons the blog succeeds. The approach instills trust in relevant potential clients and could even attract media attention. When you put yourself out there as an expert in a specific type of case-handling, your firm attracts attention from the right audience and solidifies your brand.
5. Think Beyond Text
Content can be much more than words on a screen. The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words,” isn’t just a cliché! According to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research, “a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words.” Incorporating visual elements into your content marketing strategy can have a powerful impact.
For example, Haynes and Boone sends a video card during the holiday season to its employees, clients, and business partners. In addition to spreading festive cheer, the holiday card reinforces brand loyalty and keeps the frm in the minds of its network. Its 2011 animated video, with Haynes and Boone cards used as snow over a winter wonderland, took the Internet Advertising Competition awards for best B2B online video and best legal online video in 2012.
The Micklin Law Group also seeks to engage its community with special online events like free webinars, which it publicizes on its blog. This helps the firm establish itself as an expert and creates interest in its brand.
Are Your Efforts Effective?
Do you want to create content marketing that engages your audience? Learn what resonates with your email subscribers, blog visitors, and social followers by analyzing the number of comments, social shares, new subscribers (or unsubscribers), page views per visit, time on site, and new business inquiries. Make sure you have a strong call-to-action at the bottom and sides of your content. Whatever you analyze, it’s important to consider whether your content marketing is successful and how it can be improved. That’s the beauty of the internet. Everything can be measured and improved.
Don’t leave your law firm’s content marketing efforts to chance.
What will be your first newsjack?!