In previous articles we mentioned the importance of content marketing. So, what is it? Why is it important, and is it important for lawyers, too? In this article, we explore some of the basics of content marketing for lawyers.
What is content marketing? The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” The Wikipedia defines it as “a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing and distributing content for a targeted audience online. It is often used by businesses in order to attract attention and generate leads, expand their customer base, generate or increase online sales, increase brand awareness or credibility, and engage an online community of users.”
So, content marketing is about attracting customers. Traditionally, the buying process consisted of four steps: 1) a potential customer or client would become aware of a need, 2) he or she would next research what solutions are available, 3) would then consider and evaluate the options, and 4) would finally buy a specific product or service. In this traditional process, content marketing is effective for the first two stages of the process in that it helps raise awareness of solutions and educates consumers about products or services.
These days, however, legal consumers are online consumers, and in an online world, things go slightly differently. In previous articles, we pointed out that successful online marketing strategies rely on the ACT methodology: Attract, Convert, and Transform. (See our article on ‘Why Social Media Matter’ for more information). Where online marketing mainly differs from traditional marketing is that the conversion process consists of two steps: before turning a website visitor into a customer or client, that visitor must be turned into a content consumer first. And that is where the role of content marketing becomes crucial. And, yes, this applies to lawyers, too.
Unlike a once-off advertising campaign, content marketing is a long-term strategy, based on building a strong relationship with your target audience, by giving them high-quality content that is very relevant to them on a consistent basis. In doing so, you build awareness, trust, and loyalty among your readers.
Joleena Louis, e.g., is a matrimonial and family law attorney, who uses her blog to give potential clients free legal advice. She found that this benefited her in three ways: It positions her as an expert and authority in her practice area. It helps her get more clients. And it gets her loyal followers and free marketing.
There are many ways one can present potential customers with valuable content. Amongst the most popular ways are infographics, blogs, podcasts, videos, and books. Other examples include news flashes (in a blog, email or newsletter), white papers, e-books, email newsletters, case studies, podcasts, how-to guides, question and answer articles as well as live sessions, photos, FAQs, discussion groups, and testimonials.
So, how does one start? You basically have two options: you can outsource it, or you can do it yourself. If you want to do it yourself, blogging is the easiest option. (We previously published an article on starting a blog). You can start your own blog on your website, or you can use a dedicated blogging platform. You also have the option to publish articles on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Medium. And once you published your article, you can use social media campaigns to alert people that new content is available.
To attract readers, your content must meet a need or interest of your readers. In other words, it must add value for your readers. Your content also must stand out. In Forbes Magazine, Josh Steimle wrote: “Content is good if they genuinely want to read it. Content is great if they’re willing to pay to read it. If you want to see great examples of content, just look at what you’ve paid to read, watch, or listen to lately. (…) If you’re not sure how you can add value through content marketing, ask your existing customers what kind of content you can produce that would be helpful to them now, or would have been helpful to them when they were looking for your product or service. They’ll tell you.”
Finally, the content you present to your audience must not be an academic presentation. Research has shown that what works best is to use informal and engaging story telling techniques.
- Shama Kabani, The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue, Benbella Books, 2013.