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Blockbuster became dominant in the video rental business by offering convenience and selection — more stores and more titles than its competitors. Then Netflix came along offering even more convenience — more selection delivered right to your doorstep — as well as cheaper prices. It became even more dominant by streaming content straight into living rooms.
What has allowed Netflix to avoid becoming “Netflixed” by its competition is not convenience or pricing, though. It’s content, as Netflix invests billions into original programming.
When it comes to capturing consumers’ limited, closely guarded attention, content remains king. The same principle applies for law firm websites.
Massive time, attention and resources go into conceptualizing, designing and developing websites to ensure that what’s launched into the world is of high quality. But what happens after launch? Too often, far too little thought goes into developing a sustainable strategy to produce content that aligns with the interests of a firm’s target market and creates engagement that leads to new business.
When it comes to content marketing, many law firms confront the issue as if it is a binary, either/or scenario: Should we be creating more content at a low level of quality or less content at a high level of quality?
For firms looking to make an impact with their content, this question poses a false dichotomy. There is, of course, another alternative, which is to produce a high level of content at a high level of quality. If you are hoping to make an impact with content marketing, there is no choice other than to do more, better.
Smart brands understand that old-school, mass-market, interruptive styles of marketing no longer work. Consumers of all types of products and services, from light bulbs to legal services, are finding new ways to consume information. Consumers are ignoring brands that are interjecting what they want people to hear and see, rather than creating stories consumers want to hear and see themselves.
Rather than one-off ad campaigns and self-centered marketing materials, law firms that produce content that inspires, educates and entertains their target market, while using a consistent, authentic editorial voice, are succeeding in breaking through in today’s crowded marketplace.
The best law firm content marketing — whether in the form of website content, articles, video or audio — focuses on the client’s needs and not the firm’s preferences.
As with any marketing initiative, law firm content marketing must start with a smart strategy in place. Here are five best practices — focused on both quality and quantity — you should focus on to build a powerful online brand presence for your firm.
1. Become a “lighthouse” for your clients. As a law firm content marketer, your job is to help your audience discover new (timely and relevant) things they’re interested in via the content you provide. In yesterday’s world, it was enough to inform audiences what was happening at the moment. In today’s world, which is one of information parity due to the dissemination of knowledge and information across the internet, you must explore what’s coming next. You must help clients gain new insights, identify new solutions to problems, and anticipate new trends in their industries. Law firms that become a “lighthouse” for clients and prospects — the lawyers who shine a beacon of light on what’s to come — will gain trust and be perceived as an essential resource. In other words, if you can help your audience meet an essential need (even if they’re not aware of it yet) through your content, then you’ll create brand affinity.
2. Quality first, SEO second. SEO changed irrevocably the day Google released the “Penguin” algorithm update in 2012. And for smart, savvy content marketers, it was a change for the better. No longer are brands able to game the system through keyword-stuffed articles and backlinking strategies. Today, a law firm’s SEO strategy should not focus on technical exploits but should emphasize quality content that engages and informs visitors. When it comes to content marketing and SEO, don’t focus on what you do, but rather focus on answering the questions of those whom you wish to do it for.
3. The best content tells a story. Elevating quality content over SEO gaming tactics begs a question: How can law firms best engage their audiences? The answer is storytelling. Great content resonates with an audience by helping them meet a need and telling your law firm’s story in the process. What sets a story apart from mere content is its ability to engage someone’s brain. But, stories connect emotionally, not just intellectually. They convey insights, but wrapped in an interesting narrative. Your ability to tell stories, through your firm’s brand and its content, is the ultimate differentiator in the crowded marketplace of ideas.
4. Publish on a regular cadence. Why do TV shows, podcasts and radio programs (not to mention great websites like Attorney at Work) release content on a consistent schedule? Their readers, viewers and listeners have expectations that must be met if content producers expect to hold the audience’s attention. Even if you’re producing high-quality content, if you’re doing so sporadically then you’ll be out of sight and soon out of mind. In addition, by producing high quantities of high-quality content, you’ll have a body of work for Google to judge you by as its algorithm tries to determine if your site is an authoritative one.
5. Use an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is at the epicenter of an effective law firm content marketing strategy. Instead of a scattershot, one-off approach to content marketing, an editorial calendar helps you manage and streamline your content workflow, allowing you to map your content to your audience’s needs. A good calendar allows you to look into the future at what content needs are coming down the road, and assign editorial responsibility to those inside or outside of your firm. More than anything, a calendar can help you capture the big picture of your content strategy, and adjust it as necessary to meet market needs.
My agency designs and develops websites for law firms. We try to impress on our clients that a website in itself does very little to aid in business development, lead generation or brand awareness unless just as much — if not more — attention is paid to content as it is to design and development. Content is the fuel that attracts people to your site and keeps them engaged and coming back for more.
Yes, a website launch is important. But what’s next? What you do next will determine whether you launch an online brochure or a vibrant, interactive environment that engages your audience and leads to new business opportunities.
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Ruth Carter provides a glimpse inside the legal author world.October 15, 2018 0 0 0