This post originally appeared on JD Supra
Law firms that consistently produce high-quality content produce better business results. If you’re not convinced that content is key to improving your firm’s marketing, consider that content marketing generates three times as many leads as outbound marketing tactics yet costs 62% less, and that 74% of companies indicate that content marketing increases lead quality and quantity. Last month, I published a post on JD Supra that explored the five reasons why content marketing offers the best ROI for law firms in 2019.
But too many law firms fail to realize these benefits. They’re so busy racing to create new content that they never stop to consider the myriad ways that they can improve their efforts.
“Doing content marketing” does not start and end with running a blog, because blogging is not nearly enough to break through in today’s crowded, saturated marketplace of ideas.
To do content marketing well, a comprehensive strategy, which incorporates written content, guest-posting, visual storytelling, PR, distribution, and in-depth analytics is required. To stand out, your law firm must produce and market content that is high quality, strategic, and valuable to a defined audience.
What Is Involved in Developing a Content Marketing Strategy?
A comprehensive, documented content strategy is crucial for successful content marketing. Yet only 37% of marketers have one, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 B2B Benchmarks report.
That’s unfortunate, because the CMI also found that 65 percent of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy in place. While a strategy doesn’t guarantee you success, it’s certainly better than the alternative and it’s especially helpful in getting your team working toward common goals with defined tactics.
If your law firm is looking to enhance its existing content marketing strategy, or create one for the first time, what follows are some ideas on what to focus on. Through years of experience working with law firms to develop content strategies, I’ve come to learn that each firm’s approach is different, but that every plan tends to include some common elements (or at least should).
Here’s what’s involved:
Setting Goals and Defining KPIs
Why are you investing in content marketing and how do you define success? These are critical questions to consider but few dig in to answer them. Instead, many firms employ a “publish and pray” approach that leads to mixed results at best.
For many firms, increasing brand awareness is an important content marketing goal. After all, if your firm is well known and well regarded in the marketplace, it’s more likely to be on the shortlist when clients go searching for a solution. But how do you know if your firm’s brand awareness is increasing? Leading key performance indicators to watch out for—and to define in your content strategy—include social media metrics (increased following, likes, comments, and shares) and website article views and time on site. For each content goal you set, link it to the KPIs that will allow you to measure whether you’re getting closer to achieving it.
Defining Your Audience
Knowing who your clients are and understanding their needs and desires is probably the most important element of your documented content strategy. Your firm isn’t for everyone—at least it shouldn’t be if you hope to stand out—so specifically identifying who you hope to serve with your content, and ultimately your legal services, is critical.
The objective is to provoke, engage, and speak the language of your audience through your content, and that requires, first, knowing your audience inside and out.
The best content is written with a specific person in mind (for example, I’m envisioning my reader as a senior level marketing professional within a law firm), so get granular and define audience “personas” as part of your strategy. To whom are you communicating with? What is their role within a company? What challenges are they facing? What do they care about? For many firms, who produce content for many different practices and industries, this exercise must be conducted with a number of different audiences in mind.
Plan Your Content Mix and Incorporate Visual Storytelling
Once you have a solid handle on whom you’re trying to reach, and for what purpose, determine what form will your content take. Written content? Infographics? Videos? Slideshare decks? A mix of all of these formats? A campaign created for the purpose of driving website traffic may involve the promotion of a white paper through the creation and distribution of infographics and social media graphics. One geared toward conversion of leads may include the development of an animated explainer video that dives more deeply into the benefits of a service offering geared toward a specific audience.
Mix it up.
The written word is only one way to express thought leadership, and if it’s the only format that your firm uses then you’re missing out on opportunities to reach audiences in interesting and engaging ways through visual storytelling.
Plan for Distribution
Just as you can create content in different formats, there are many different channels you can publish to. These include owned properties, such as your website and blog, and social media properties, such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
One of the best strategic decisions and investments you can make is to also pursue opportunities to have your content published on earned properties, such as third-party trade journals, websites, and publications that are focused on the industry you’re hoping to reach. If your experts publish in publications that are already known, liked, and trusted by members of your target audience, they’ll grow to know, like, and trust you as well.
Establish an Editorial Calendar
It’s unrealistic to think that a law firm that produces huge amounts of content can create plan for a year’s worth of content in a single sitting, but it’s important to have a sense of what the year ahead holds.
Start thinking through how much content, and what types of content, your firm needs to produce each month to reach your goals. How many blog posts do you need? What guest posts for external publications will you pursue? How often will you create visual content, such as infographics and animated videos? Written content, and the visual storytelling that supports it, takes time time create, so give your team a head start by creating an editorial calendar that helps head off the mad rush that so much content creation otherwise entails.
Content marketing is an incredibly powerful tool for your law firm, but to get the most out of it, it’s critical to have a documented strategy in place. The alternative is to keep publishing blog posts and hoping for the best.
Looking for more? Check out these related posts:
We work with professional services firms to develop content marketing strategies, create visual storytelling assets, and build brands and websites that lead to new business. If you’re interested in increasing the returns on your marketing investments, contact me to set up a free consultation to discuss how we can work together to define clear goals, create a specific plan of action, and implement marketing tactics that will help your firm grow.