In times when a hard-earned reputation is simply not enough to distinguish a law firm from its competitors, more and more firms are turning to content marketing to build a profitable brand for themselves. But what is content marketing? Why is it effective? And how can firms harness its power to position themselves as leaders in their chosen field?
The legal profession has often been viewed as a necessary evil. Events that precede the average person’s need for legal services are typically distressing, unexpected and beyond their control. Consumers in a vulnerable position can be forced to place serious matters into the hands of a stranger for an unknown – and potentially exorbitant – fee.
To avoid the risks associated with engaging a lawyer, consumers seek trusted and authoritative law firms based on online and word-of-mouth recommendations, as well as advice from friends and colleagues. A client’s choice of firm now depends on brand reputation and a personal connection with its clients. And that’s where content marketing comes in.
What is content marketing?
Joe Pulizzi, author of Epic Content Marketing, describes content marketing as the “technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action”.
For law firms, the strategic intent is to connect with, inform and persuade consumers to choose their brand at every step of their journey in seeking legal advice.
Why does content marketing work?
If you want to connect with clients, you need to be where they are: online. Consider this:
- 97 per cent of consumers report researching local products and services online.
- 71 per cent of internet users say they are more likely to purchase from a brand they follow on a social networking site.
This online-centric shift in buyer behaviour has opened up a whole new platform through which firms can connect with and influence potential clients, exponentially increasing brand exposure.
Even if you are a small law firm, you don’t need to look like one. Your firm’s online presence is as big as you make it, and will form the basis of a prospect’s assumptions about your reputation and expertise. A well-designed content marketing strategy can position your firm as a thought leader in the industry and establish a network of influence within which you are deemed the trusted authority.
Content marketing also has an unparalleled capacity for lead generation as it enables firms to create a ‘likeable’ legal brand that people trust, relate to and remember.
How can firms use content marketing to position themselves as leaders in their practice area?
It is essential to develop and implement a detailed and rigorous content marketing strategy to hit your mark. Ask yourself four questions:
- Who is my ideal client? Knowing all about your target audience is key to finding, connecting with and impressing prospective clients.
- What content will engage my prospective clients? Once you understand your prospects’ needs, consider their buying journey. Create focused content for strategic placement at each stage of this journey to arrest the prospect’s attention and provide them with timely advice and information.
- Where should I place content for maximum exposure? There are limitless possibilities. However, law firm websites, blogs and newsletters form the first line of attack. Ensure your content can be located by search engines and use keywords and phrases your prospects are searching for. You can also use social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to initiate, develop and maintain the connection, and cultivate the prospect towards becoming a client.
- How can I monitor my success? Recording key data is vital to assess the success of your content marketing efforts. Make sure you analyse content-consumption metrics, including page views, engagement (tweets, likes and shares) and the actual number of leads generated.
Content marketing needs a consistent, long-term investment to harness its full potential, but the rewards are more than worthwhile. Be among the innovators and build a profitable future for your firm with content marketing.
For more law firm marketing tips, download Thomson Reuters Insight’s free guide: Law firm marketing: 6 steps to help your firm reach Google’s top page.