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Are You a Visible Expert?

Thought Leadership Marketing: Five Benefits for Firms

By Lee Frederiksen

Marketing through thought leadership not only benefits individual lawyers, it benefits their firms in five important ways — including higher billing rates.

Today your potential clients are online — researching firms, looking for legal advice, reading reviews, and making decisions long before they actually talk with a lawyer. It’s critical for you to be there, too, creating opportunities to open up a dialog.

Here’s the catch, though — to have a dialog, you have to have something relevant to talk about. It may seem obvious, but you want to focus on creating interesting content that provides value while highlighting your specific subject matter expertise. By demonstrating your knowledge in a focused and useful way, you establish yourself as a thought leader.

You need to have relevant content available online so that when prospects search for information that touches on your specific area of expertise, they’ll be more likely to find you. Whether published articles, guest blog posts, webinars, podcasts, online forums or social media posts, when your experience shows through in your content, it becomes the foundation for effective marketing through thought leadership. This is a highly effective strategy for increasing visibility and accelerating market influence so that you can accomplish goals such building brand strength or generating new business.

The Impact of “Visible Experts” and Thought Leadership Marketing

Marketing through thought leadership not only benefits individual lawyers, it benefits their firms as well. Hinge surveyed over 1,000 professional services providers and 130 “visible experts” to understand the impact thought leadership marketing had on their firms. The results, published in the e-book “The Visible Expert,” showed that firms and organizations that utilize thought leadership marketing reap five major benefits.

1. Faster Growth

Thought leaders’ single biggest impact is their ability to drive firm growth. Highly visible thought leadership attracts clients who want or need greater expertise. The leads are more qualified and easier to generate. Prospects close more quickly, with less effort. 

2. Higher Billing Rates

There is a direct relationship between the visibility of a subject matter expert’s thought leadership and their billing rate. According to Hinge’s research, visible experts of every level command premium rates, starting at over 200 percent of the baseline $100 hourly rate. The greater the expertise and visibility of the expert — represented in the chart below as Levels 1 through 5 — the greater the billing rate.

Thought Leadership Marketing

Relative Hourly Rates Buyers Will Pay, by Visible Expert Level (“The Visible Expert,” p. 42, published by Hinge Research Institute)

3. A Stronger Brand

If you can combine thought leadership with greater visibility, your brand will become significantly stronger. That brand not only drives growth and profitability, it also results in a more valuable firm. And when you make thought leadership one of your primary marketing strategies, you create a strong differentiator (specialized expertise) and strategic focus.

4. Top Talent

The best people want to work with industry leaders. Thought leadership is a great way to demonstrate the quality of your firm and attract employees who themselves want to become thought leaders. In a time when top talent is in high demand, thought leadership is a potent recruiting tool.

5. The Best Opportunities

Subject matter experts not only attract the best new clients and the most talented people, they also yield the best strategic partners and business relationships. When other organizations look to an industry for potential partners, they look first for thought leaders — leading brands tend to want to work with other leading brands. High-visibility experts report that they have their pick of teaming relationships, marketing partnerships and other strategic business opportunities.

Thought Leadership Marketing Makes It Easier to Get and Stay Ahead

Thought leadership marketing is a powerful law firm marketing tool. It can be fun and rewarding, too. It’s all about being the expert who brings a fresh, insightful perspective to a common problem, or who anticipates emerging trends. Often, a thought leader’s perspective is at odds with conventional wisdom — even controversial. But a successful thought leader can turn that new insight into tomorrow’s best practice.

Lee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., is Managing Partner at Hinge, a leading branding and marketing firm for the professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to become more visible and grow. Follow him @LeeFrederiksen.

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Categories: Business Development, Law Firm Content Marketing, Law Firm Marketing
Originally published June 6, 2017
Last updated September 25, 2020
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