How Content Marketing Can Benefit the Legal Industry

The digital world is inundated with advertisements, presenting a challenge to businesses struggling to bring their corporate messaging to the attention of customers. A study by the Custom Content Council shows that more than 70% of internet users get information about businesses from articles rather than advertisements. As a result, more businesses are turning to the strategy of content marketing.

Law firms, in particular, have been finding overwhelming success in blogging about a host of topics, using top in-house talent, and keeping information timely, compelling and relevant.

The number of law firms using content marketing as a dedicated strategy has been steadily increasing, and according to Greentarget’s 2014 Digital and Content Marketing Survey, 25% of law firms now have a content strategy. Between 30 and 50% of law firms indicate they plan to implement a dedicated strategy within the year.

More and more law firms are reevaluating their advertising budget and choosing to invest more heavily in content marketing rather than traditional advertising. While many law firms can afford to spare no expense in advertising, they are at the same time risk averse, which can create challenges when pushing for changes to how law firms market themselves.

However, a successful, well thought out strategy is key to raising their profile above that of competitors. Let’s take a look at some best practices for successful content marketing ideally suited for law firms.

Speak to Your Clients, Not Your Colleagues

Lawyers tend to be very gifted, well-educated and well spoken. Some might say they have their own unique language, “legalese.” A challenge for the group is that sometimes it can be difficult for them to speak in terms a non-lawyer can understand.

With many areas of specialization, those employed at a law firm offer a gold mine of insight and experience. By adopting a writing style such as that required by professional journalists, articles can be written in a style that is accessible and easily comprehended by the general public.

It may be advantageous for law firms to adopt a framework for using journalistic practices when creating content. This ensures content will be fair, accurate and credible by utilizing an approach that leverages the firm’s intelligence and areas of expertise with the narrative techniques of professional journalism.

Be a Leader, Not an Advertiser

Whether for companies or individuals, the decision to hire a lawyer or team of lawyers represents a significant investment. In this respect, creating content for law firms can be very similar to the efforts of creating business-to-business (B2B) marketing.

A B2B model can be effective in reaching the decision makers who will be key in selecting whether or not to choose a particular law firm. The best way to tap into these potential clients is through thought leadership, which differentiates specific lawyers and firms as having exceptional knowledge and experience in their areas of expertise, therefore making them a very worthwhile choice to the potential client.

Thought leadership affords a firm the ability to raise their profile much more effectively than traditional advertising because it can distinguish their firm’s brand and demonstrate areas of expertise in the crowded field.

A law firm may have many attorneys specializing in particular areas of expertise that can write articles specific to their field. The law firm’s marketing team can offer invaluable input by asking attorneys to drill down on specifics such as new laws, bills and important cases that may have relevance for their clients.

This can also be beneficial for the client who is doing a Google search to learn more about a need they may have, such as “DUI,” “immigration law,” or “felony conviction.”

Articles can be published on the law firm’s website, microsites, blogs or the site that appears to be platform of choice for the legal profession, LinkedIn.

Leveraging the Strength of LinkedIn

LinkedIn appears to be the social network of choice for the legal profession these days, with about 60% of lawyers having used it professionally in any given week, and 37% in the last 24 hours. For many businesses, social media is their main focus, but for attorneys, it offers the unique benefit of raising the profile of specific lawyers, rather than the firm overall.

While there are some restriction on attorney advertising, lawyers are not prohibited from publishing articles on legal subjects. The challenge lies in the potential consequences. People may use the advice in the article and if it proves ineffective, they may claim a malpractice liability. This potential pitfall can be easily avoided by clearly stating in the publication that it is not intended to be legal advice, nor create an an attorney-client relationship.

A successful LinkedIn profile must be consistently updated and optimized. It is not sufficient to indicate that the lawyer graduated from Yale and has been specializing in corporate or family law for 25 years. Rather, it should highlight what the lawyer does and what is their passion. It should include an up to date professional photo and links to speaking engagements and recent articles.

It should also include the lawyer’s own content in addition to content from their firm, and may also include any outside content they deem of interest. Lawyers are also encouraged to join groups, as participating in, or even forming groups, allows an opportunity for clients to communicate with lawyers directly.

Typically, content strategy for attorneys has been reactionary. When an event occurred, such as a change in laws, or the outcome of a groundbreaking case, attorneys responded with content accordingly. Currently, the focus has become more one of showing how law firms can be a resource.

Every well skilled and knowledgeable lawyer has something of value to offer, something that can effectively drive content marketing, raise their profile, and generate new business.

About the Author:

Richard Sutherland writes about digital marketing, content marketing, social media and business. You can read his other articles here at the blog. 


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