Businesses are increasingly turning to Google for answers to their legal concerns – and that’s often the way law firms attract new clients. Firms can use their content strategy to establish themselves as a subject matter expert, the local leader for that particular type of case, can introduce their practice to a whole new audience.
But to succeed, law firms really need to think about their strategy with content. A coherent, cohesive content strategy helps you target the right audience, engage them in a sustainable manner and make sure this happens at the appropriate time. Content is far more likely to be effective if it’s part of a planned and long-term strategy.
Firms that bother to implement any kind of content plan are likely to be in a minority – something that could give them an advantage over their competitors. Research conducted by Research and Markets found that fewer than one out of ten law firms had a documented content strategy, and a similar survey by Greentarget found only 26% bothered to produce one. Yet it’s a proven way to find new clients
Successful content planning
Firms that are successful with their content marketing are likely to employ tactics that include keyword research and planning, social media integration, and a link building strategy.
They probably have a good idea of who their audience is, perhaps expressed through the creation of user personas, and they’ll have mapped out their journey process. This will help the firm create content that reaches their audience at the correct point of need.
Successful content should position a law firm as a trusted authority in that particular area of legal advice. A winning example is the Cruise Ship Law Blog, which writes around the various legal problems of cruise ship passengers and crew. But it’s not just about knowledge and experience.
Knowing how to connect with your audience emotionally is also important, as it shows you can meet their need for reassurance and understanding whatever their legal concern may be.
That’s why it’s a good idea to consider your brand tone of voice quite carefully, and tailor it to your audience. If you specialise in family law, you’ll want to take a very different tonal approach to a firm specialising in corporate law.
Your tone of voice can also help you stand out from the crowd. Dan Harris’s China Law Blog is a great illustration of how legal content really needn’t be dry or uninteresting.
A well-executed piece of content is also a way for a firm to show that it understands particular industries. Entertainment lawyer Richard B. Jefferson achieves this with content that’s extremely useful to his target audience – content such as salary comparison for reality show stars and practical tools for musicians to split song-writing royalties.
Writing content that’s free from legal jargon and really useful to people dealing with specific areas of the law is a great way to show a firm understands their needs.
Random acts of content
Lawyers are busy people and it can be tough to motivate them to create content in any sustained manner. That’s one of the reasons why a content plan is so vital. Using a content calendar to plan topics and timings helps people timetable the work and divide it up fairly.
In any practice, you’re likely to get people who are more willing to contribute than others. That can, unfortunately, mean your content ends up unbalanced, as you’ll get more content out of those who are willing to produce it. Content planning helps overcome this by making sure everyone understands their commitments and when things have to be produced by.
Techniques such as pair writing – where a content expert such as a freelancer copywriter works closely with a subject matter expert to produce content – can work well for legal content.
Hiring content creators help overcome your team’s reluctance to produce their own work and helps overcome busy periods when content seems less of a priority.
Atomising content areas
Subject matter experts often struggle to condense their knowledge into digestible chunks of content. One of the reasons it’s so important to plan content ahead of time is to understand exactly which areas of a specific topic you’ll try to cover – and which you won’t.
Atomising your content areas helps avoid the temptation to try to tackle every area of, for instance, contract law in a single piece of content. It’s better to focus on a small number of points. You won’t bore your reader, and you also won’t burden whomever you’ve tasked to create that piece of content.
Many companies both in and outside the legal industry make the mistake of talking about themselves and their products. This is an effective way to bore your audience and turn them away from you.
The more effective approach – creating content that’s of real value to your audience, at the time they want it – is much harder. It’s also an approach that requires a higher degree of forethought; also known as a content strategy.