Content marketing is important for law firms in winning new clients, keeping in touch with existing ones, and generating a presence in the market. With increased competition from international and local lawyers and a growing pressure for law firms to differentiate themselves in this crowded space, content marketing will be critical in any business development strategies.
Producing more content (e.g. more articles, videos and editorial columns) is not the ideal solution. In the 2017 State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey, 96% of in-house counsel indicated that data overload was a problem in their efforts to consume information affecting their companies.
The answer to better content marketing is to produce quality content, package it appropriately and distribute it more effectively. Here are the Author’s thoughts on some easy ways to achieve that:
You may have heard this many times from your firm’s marketing team – Do not write in legalese, as this will alienate your audience. This is a valuable reminder as it is always tempting to rely on industry speak, especially one which has had a long tradition. It is important to focus on your audience. A simple question to ask when you write your article is – Will my audience understand this and be engaged to read further? If the answer is no (or even maybe), rewrite the article and have this reviewed by a peer who is not from the legal industry. You should ideally be having a your audience and not them.
Some have asked if this means “dumbing down” the content. The answer is no. It is about using relatable examples and language to convey your thoughts. The audience should not be made to struggle with the content due to the extensive reliance on legalese. It is far more challenging to write or present in a simple and precise manner, without industry speak.
Content marketing and thought leadership are not sales pitches or advertisements, but a showcase of your firm’s insights which can solve your audience’s problems. Do some market research. Or if you are fortunate to have a knowledge and library team, have them conduct research to find out what topics are most important for your audience. Produce articles or posts that address these concerns with possible solutions, without giving away your winning move. Whilst you should not provide legal advice in a public piece, you should offer sensible next steps for someone who is looking for solutions. When the content offers meaningful, relevant and actionable insights, the selling will take care of itself through the expertise you share.
Know that sometimes less is more – In a world where your target audience is suffering from information overload and reducing attention span, writing a 30-page analysis of a change in the law might not be the most effective use of your time. Depending on the topic, a short analysis will suffice and interested clients will contact you for more.
Use clear, actionable words which connect with your audience to explain what the article or blog is about. For instance, “What impact will the Personal Data Protection Act have on your business?” is more powerful than “A legal discussion on the Personal Data Protection Act”. It should also answer the audience’s question of, “Why should I care?” or “What’s in it for me?”
Make use of suitable images and branding to attract your audience to consume the content. In an article, a relevant image and white space between each subheading can help readers retain the information better and take a mental breather between the key points you are making.
At the same time, make it easy for clients to recall and share the content by using info-graphics. This graphical visualization image is a fast way of displaying information that can attract the attention and recall of your readers. Information compiled by MDG Advertising found that materials with compelling images can generate 94% more views than simple text. Furthermore, info-graphics can be easily shared across many platforms like emails, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, etc., making it easier to broaden your outreach.
Avoid over-packaging the content. Use images only where relevant, minimise the use of fancy colours unless necessary (I have not found a compelling reason so far) and use only one font type throughout your content.
Link your content to the latest news. The most obvious ones include new laws or a proposed change in law that is under public consultation, but these are far from being the only chances to produce or refresh your content. Other opportunities include high profile business matters being reported by the media (e.g. fourfold increase in investments from China in ASEAN, increased counterfeiting in the region), use opportunities like these to highlight how an existing law could be applied or interpreted. Even better, work with your marketing or PR team to gain new publicity outlets.
Publishing with external media, publication and social media platforms can increase your content outreach. If you are looking to only target lawyers and in-house counsel, specialist platforms like the Law Gazette and LexisNexis will work well. For a broader outreach, platforms like AsiaLawNetwork.com, Singapore Business Review or the local press are good options. To amplify the outreach, you can also share these published content on your firm or your digital media platforms (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter and increasingly, WeChat).
All of these will reach audiences beyond your existing contacts.
Finally, less is more. If you are distributing your content via emails or digital media, spacing out the time between each campaign is important as it demonstrates your respect for your audience’s time and personal space. The worst outcome is one where your audience unsubscribes from your mailing list or “un-follows” your firm’s digital media platforms out of annoyance.
When it comes to content marketing, we need a more calibrated and sophisticated approach to engage your audience. Less is more in the age of information overload.
Once your content is ready and successfully marketed, you can consider other more advanced areas in content marketing, including Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), tracking click-through and managing feedback.