May 2012 Program Recap — Content Marketing for Law Firms

Just as many consumers do when purchasing a new toaster oven or other retail products, more business executives are turning to the Internet and online research to sway their companies’ buying decisions for professional services.

“Buyers are now in control. Think of your personal life – we have more power nowadays in terms of information,” said Michelle King, principal and founder of Reputation Capital. “The same thing is happening in the business environment.”

King presented the Legal Marketing Association Midwest Chicago Program Series “Content Marketing for Law Firms” on May 16, covering the basics of content marketing and providing wisdom on building a fruitful content marketing program.

“You invented this… this is one of the few things that law firms have been doing for a while,” she said. “Professional services has the highest adoption out of every industry, but sometimes they’re not doing it very effectively.”

In the digital world, business development no longer only occurs face-to-face. It can happen online, King said. The first line of research often begins with a simple Google search, and marketing-savvy law firms have embraced the power of publishing captivating online content to hook in potential clients. “Geography doesn’t matter much anymore,” she said, “and it’s no longer just about personal referrals.”

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is any content (a blog, newsletter, infographic, podcast, video, etc.) that informs and educates without any obvious marketing message or motive, King said. “It sort of lets clients peek under the hood to let them see how you think and what you know.”

To be most effective, content should be crafted in a manner in which viewers think they’re being educated, instead of sold. “People don’t care about you and your service, they care about what you know,” King said.

Although producing consistent, stimulating content is one of the biggest challenges to executing an effective content marketing program, King said it is worth the struggle and significant time investment required. Companies that provide helpful information as part of their marketing are 60 percent more likely to get a sale than those that do not, according to the Custom Content Council.

Producing Quality Content

To marshal the consistent production of quality content, King advises appointing someone to manage the process in a role similar to publisher or editor. Before any content creation begins, marketers should first decide on a specific audience and have a clear objective. “Don’t do it unless you do it right. You are going to damage your brand if you put out poor content,” she warned.

King offered the following pointers to produce stellar content:

  • Publish frequently: One-off content doesn’t do much. “It has to be a solid, ongoing campaign of content.” Consider developing an editorial calendar.
  • Be timely: Try to stay ahead of trends and predict popular topics. “Don’t spend three years figuring out if you’re an expert.”
  • Provide targeted information: Define your audience and subject. The narrower the focus, the more relevance your content will have to the consumer.
  • Avoid legalese and information overload: Content should not read like a dense legal brief. It should be clear, concise and scanable for time-crunched consumers. Avoid bulky citations.

Leverage Content to its Fullest

Once production is finished and content is uploaded online, the job is not over. Don’t just wait for someone to stumble upon it, and take this time to blast the content via social media, King said. “Content creation comes before social media. Turn your law firm into a publishing house of rich content to build your brand.”

Also, use the content to engage the media and support other public relations efforts.

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