Every lawyer knows you can never have too many clients. Even if you feel maxed out at the moment, you never know when a client might move on or no longer need you. And if you don’t feel maxed out, then that just means there’s room to grow. Besides that, law is one of the most competitive areas, a competition that starts as early as law school.
In either scenario, you need systems in place to help you attract new clients. We all know how important SEO is, as well as traditional advertising.
However, content marketing is perhaps the most powerful tool law firms can use to expand their reach and grow.
Here’s everything you need to know about using content marketing to grow your law practice:
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a form of inbound marketing that aims to attract a particular audience to a brand or company by distributing useful, informative, and engaging content to that audience.
In other words, you create content, give it out to people you think might be interested, and then when they bite, you try to connect with them to see if they are interested in your services.
If you do that, then you’ve “content marketed.”
This strategy is part of what’s known as “inbound” marketing because you are attempting to draw a specific audience “in” towards your business. Its converse — outbound marketing — is when you project your brand “out,” hoping to catch the attention of someone in your target audience.
It’s been proven to be an effective way of growing your customer base, and it’s a strategy law firms should be using to reach and sign new clients.
Why Does Content Marketing Work?
Content marketing works because it’s all about building trust with people and being useful to them.
Today’s consumers are inundated with advertising content. It comes from all angles and is nearly impossible to escape. People tend to tune these messages out, which is why there are so many of them: everyone is trying to rise above the noise and be heard.
When you do content marketing you take a different approach. Instead of bombarding large groups of people with your brand message, you simply create and distribute content you think your specific target audience might want.
Then, you promote it and wait for them to find it. And when they do, they’ve also found you.
What type of content you want to create is up to you, but here are some of the most common:
• Blog posts and articles
• YouTube videos
• White papers
What content marketing has done here has created a customer-initiated connection.They needed something, and you provided it for them. Now they know who you are.
Assuming you’ve helped them by providing them with the information they were seeking, when they need the service you provide, it is far more likely they will reach out to you.
They already trust you. Or, at least they’re heading in that direction. Now, when you follow up on these leads, you’re ahead in the count.
Why Does Content Marketing Work for Law Firms?
The approach behind content marketing is what makes it successful: it’s all about providing value to the potential customer first, as an act of good faith, and then leveraging those connections into business relationships.
Because of this, it can be effective for pretty much any business.
However, it’s particularly effective for law firms because of how well this strategy does at building trust.
Studies have found that although law firms spend lots of time and money advertising and marketing themselves on the web, TV, and radio, it’s ultimately referrals from friends and family that drive people’s decision to reach out.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s hard to scale this approach. Only by making use of other mediums can you really expand your reach.
Content marketing combines the best of both worlds — internet marketing and word-of-mouth marketing — by building that trust from another source, i.e. from the content you produce and provide to your target audience.
How to “Do” Content Marketing
Far too many people hear this pitch and then say “Okay! Sounds good. I am going to do content marketing.”
Then, they go write up a few blog posts, put them up on their website, maybe email a few other bloggers, get no response, post to social media, and then give up saying it doesn’t work.
In this scenario, you’ve perhaps created content, and perhaps you’ve done some marketing, but you haven’t done “content marketing.”
Doing content marketing requires a strategic approach, one that starts with a deep dive into the minds and hearts of the people you’re trying to reach.
If you want to do content marketing for your law firm and you want to do it right, here’s what you need to do:
Discover Your Audience
The very first step in pretty much any marketing strategy is researching the target audience. If you don’t properly understand who it is you’re trying to reach, then any efforts you make to reach them are guesses at best.
To take things to the next level, think beyond just the basic characteristics of someone in your target audience. Age, sex, gender, race and ethnicity, income, and so on are all important, but they are mostly surface level traits. If you want to be really effective, you need to get deeper.
What drives these people? What are their values? What do they consider important? What are their fears and deepest concerns?
Of course, you can never know the exact answers to any of these questions, but that’s not the point. The idea is to take a walk in your clients’ shoes for a while and learn more about who they are.
Doing this will help inform you of the type of content you should try and create.
For example, if you’re a copyright lawyer in Orlando, one of your target audiences is writers, musicians, artists, and other creative types. These individuals tend to place a great deal of importance on their work, and they want to work with someone who understands this.
Creating content that helps explain to them their intellectual property rights, but that emphasizes the importance of protecting their art, can help you build a stronger connection with these individuals, one that you can leverage into a profitable relationship.
Create Quality Content
Once you have a good understanding of who your audience is and what type of content they need, it’s time to actually make the content.
Again, the medium you pursue is up to you.
For law firms, blog posts work great, as they give you a chance to inform and educate people about certain legal topics, something that will help make that connection and build trust.
No matter which type of content you end up producing, you will want to make sure to do the following things:
Pick relevant topics with good search volume — Choose topics that are highly relevant to your target audience and about which you can speak authoritatively. But also make sure there is some amount of search traffic for those terms, something you can do using tools such as the Google Keyword Planner. Whenever possible, try to find search terms that are specific to your local area, as this will help improve your local SEO.
Make content easy to digest and not salesy — People are looking to have their questions answered and problems solved. They’re not looking to read novels or complete academic texts. Make content as simple as you can and focus on making it easy to digest. Keep sales pitches to a minimum and include them only when it’s natural to do so. Remember, the goal here is not to make a sale but rather to build a connection.
Try to make “evergreen” content — You want the content you create to be the gold standard of what’s out there about that topic. This means it needs to remain relevant over time. When creating content, try to cover all your bases so that content doesn’t go stale. And stay away from things that are popular or trending right now. Unless you can get something out to be a part of the conversation, you’ll just be late and miss your chance.
Focus on making content engaging and, where possible, visual — When people engage with a piece of content, they are much more likely to walk away with a favorable impression of you, and also the seedlings of trust. You get this engagement by speaking directly to their needs, but also by communicating in a way that resonates. Videos and other visuals work great for this. But so too does a friendly, conversational tone in your blog posts, or a quality tone on your podcast. Figure out what connects with your audience and play this up so that you can create an even deeper bond.
Distribute Your Content
Once you’ve got some content created, the next step is to distribute it. Social media is a great place to start, but this limits you to people who are already in your network. You’ll want to focus on growing this, for sure, but you’ll also want to pay attention to other areas.
Connect with other people in your space and collaborate. Perhaps you can write a guest blog on someone else’s website? Or do a guest appearance on another podcast?
Doing this exposes your content to new people, which is the whole point of content marketing. You want to provide people with information and draw them in with its quality and usefulness.
However, you’ll get more bang for your buck if your content is also optimized for search engines. By creating content around topics that people are searching for, and then ranking for it, you can connect with so many more people. And because they are connecting with you through your content, there is already some trust there, which you can use to your advantage.
Capture Contact Information and Follow Up on Leads
While it’s nice to be helpful to people, the whole point of this is to generate new leads and bring in new customers. In other words, to grow your law firm.
To do this, you need to have a strategy in place for capturing people’s contact information once they consume your content.
There are several different ways you can go about doing this.
For example, you could include a call to action at the end of your content. Perhaps you’ve written a blog post about how to get divorce proceedings started. At the end, in a casual way, you should encourage readers to reach out, or include a contact form they can easily fill out.
Another option would be to include some sort of pop-up form on your website. You can set this tool up so that it appears after someone’s spent a certain amount of time on your site. You can ask for their contact information and then get in touch at a later time, or perhaps just add it to your email list where you can continue to grow the relationship.
In any case, when you capture a lead through content marketing, you’re starting a bit ahead of the game. The person you’re reaching out to has already engaged with your content and perhaps even trusts you a bit. It’s now your job to build on this and get them to take the step of hiring you as their lawyer.
Focus on Quality and Be Patient
Do you want to know the secret to good content marketing? Ask anyone and they will tell you: good content.
Good content is created out of a deep understanding of your target audience, and it will find its way to the right people because it’s of quality and is useful to people.
Of course, you need to put the work in to make this happen, and you do need to be patient. It takes time for your content to get out there and start building the connections you want. But if you focus on quality, good things will come.