In this digital day and age, there are very few businesses who haven’t concentrated their marketing efforts on the online sphere. A business without a website? Unheard of. Ad campaigns on Facebook, recruitment of new employees via LinkedIn, keeping customers informed of current events via business blogs and e-newsletters – it’s the new marketing standard. The opportunities for creating online visibility have never been greater than today.
This evolution has not gone unnoticed in the legal industry. Indeed, most law firms have neat-looking websites, send out e-mails jam-packed with legal updates and have heard that they need to look into search engine optimization (“we want to be number one in Google!”).
Most law firms blog from time to time. When inspiration strikes. When a ground-breaking judgement is handed down. Or when there is some downtime over summer. But there are very few law firms who actually truly invest in content marketing. Here are five compelling reasons to do so.
BUT FIRST - WHAT IS CONTENT MARKETING EXACTLY?
As a lawyer, you might not be familiar with the concept of content marketing in the first place. Content marketing is providing useful information, not directly commercially linked to your services, to your target audience. You provide an added value and “connect” potential clients with your firm or your practice.
Contrary to classic advertising, content marketing is not about directly selling your services, it’s about informing (potential) clients on relevant topics, helping them solve problems and building trust and authority along the way. If you keep that up in a consistent matter, you’re well on your way to apply the “know-like-trust” marketing technique. By offering valuable information, potential clients learn about your existence, your expertise. After a while, they start to expect regular, interesting and relevant updates from you. By showing up time and again, people will start trusting you.
CONTENT MARKETING FOR LAWYERS: HOW?
You’ve guessed it: content marketing done right is a long-term investment. But how do you go about it as a lawyer? “Content” can, in theory, be provided both offline and online, or via a combination of both channels.
However, there are plenty of advantages of investing in online content. With a potential far greater reach and audience, the possibility to communicate extremely quickly and low costs, online is the way to go for content marketing anno 2017.
So go ahead and create content for blogs, social media, e-mail marketing and e-newsletters, white papers, e-books, video’s, infographics and so on. There are plenty of reasons to do so – here are five of the most important ones.
WHY IS CONTENT MARKETING A MUST FOR LAWYERS?
1. DEMONSTRATE EXPERTISE AND SHARE KNOW-HOW
We live in a knowledge-based economy and the legal industry is a knowledge-based industry par excellence. Publishing targeted content – with the problem of the client as the starting point – is the perfect way to demonstrate your legal expertise. Moreover, it allows you to show empathy. An understanding of what keeps your clients awake at night. Now if that doesn’t allow you to set yourself apart from the crowd, what will?
Now, let’s be crystal clear here. We’re not talking about complex dissertations about recent jurisprudence, which are hard to decipher and leave readers wondering why it is relevant for their business. Quality content meets concrete needs of readers. It informs the reader why they should care about the content at all (and thus answers the so-called “what’s in it for me?” question). Relevant, tailor-made content creates trust and trust builds relationships.
If you consistently demonstrate thought leadership on very specific topics, potential clients will automatically start associating you with those topics and the problems they experience in that area. And it’s not just potential clients you are reaching by publishing your content online – it’s also the perfect way to nurture and develop your professional network of other lawyers, academics and other professionals.
2. STAND OUT FROM THE LEGAL CROWD
As we’ve discussed above, we live in an information society. Information societies rely on the creation, distribution and use of information. These days, we are over our heads in information. And it’s no different in the legal world. If a ground-breaking judgement is delivered or if there’s a note-worthy change in legislation, you can be sure that a flood of blog posts and news flashes is on its way. Is this the kind of quality content we’re talking about here?
Most of the time, it isn’t. Just take a look at those types of content, and I’m willing to bet that a lot of them will be mostly interchangeable. 90% of the information will be the same, the perspectives chosen too. Good luck standing out with this type of content! Hate to break it to you, but you are most likely wasting your time (and yes, that includes the time of your associate or paralegal working alongside with you).
But if you’re willing to invest a little bit more, there is an amazing opportunity to actually stand out from the crowd. It takes guts to take a completely different spin on things than your peers, but it pays off.
By blogging about what you know and genuinely helping your readers, you have an advantage in securing your reputation and credibility as a well-educated lawyer. Better yet, you’ll be a lawyer who proves to be the right person to represent a client by offering meaningful content that encourages viewers to not only educate themselves, but to seek your particular brand of counsel.
3. GOOGLE LOVES GOOD CONTENT
Whether you think it’s a favorable evolution or not, when people are looking for answers - “when does the hairdresser open on Saturday?”, “what should I eat before going for a run?”, “am I potentially liable for the misconduct of my employee?” – they turn to Google. The search engine processes over 500 million new searches on a daily basis. To be able to answer all these questions, an lot of content is necessary. An awful lot.
Lawyers who provide valuable content on their websites, answering real and concrete questions, will inevitably be rewarded by Google. The better you know your target audience and their questions and concerns, the better you will be able to write targeted blog posts that show up in search results and lead traffic to your website. And if your target audience finds your website and top-notch content which addresses those very questions, you are providing added value that can never be found in any advertisement.
This kind of marketing is far more effective than you might realize — experts rank content creation as the single most effective SEO technique and blogs reward their owners with 434% more indexed pages.
Start with your client in mind, and you can’t go wrong.
4. INVESTING IN CONTENT MARKETING IS INVESTING IN YOURSELF
To be able to create valuable and relevant content you need to be on top of your legal game. If you’re going to blog about a certain topic, you better make sure you have done your homework: an excellent opportunity to study up!
Practice improves your writing technique as well. Not every single blog post needs to be 5000+ words of pure legalese. On the contrary, you should always consider whom you’re writing for and if your target audience doesn’t consist of lawyers, then practicing writing in an accessible way is a great exercise. Many legal bloggers find an enjoyable creative outlet in writing and sharing know-how with a receptive audience.
5. CONTENT MARKETING IS THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
Let’s say you publish a high-quality blogpost on a topic that’s relevant for your audience. If you go about blogging strategically, you have chosen a topic that is relevant today, but also in a month or even in a year’s time (it’s what we call “evergreen” content).
Your blogpost will attract a couple of hundred reads today. Another hundred or so tomorrow. Enough to land a couple of new leads. But it doesn’t stop there.
Your blogpost is showing up in search results. It’s being shared on social media. Your blogpost has the potential to generate traffic days, weeks, months even years after the date of publication. All because of that one blogpost, no further effort required from your part.
Content marketing is a small investment you make today of which you will reap the benefits in the future.
Keen to learn more about content marketing for lawyers?
Check out our upcoming blogging workshop!
About the author
Anouck Meier is a former competition lawyer - she spent most of her years as a lawyer in Sidley Austin's Brussels office before taking a deep plunge into the world of marketing and communication.
Today, she owns the content marketing agency Ampersand. Because of her experience as a lawyer, she has an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of marketing in the legal industry.
Anouck teaches in English and Dutch.