Why are law firms turning to thought leadership marketing?
Firms should be developing individuals who are associated with specialisms to produce the targeted content that today's online marketing demands, explains Ben Hollom
I often come into contact with law firms that appreciate the value of online marketing, but struggle to focus their efforts in the right way. It's all very well creating a content plan, updating the company blog, and having a presence on social media, but unless you have something interesting and insightful to say, it's highly likely that your words will get lost in the white noise of the web.
To make a real impact, you should play to your strengths: legal professionals are invariably intelligent, opinionated, and highly skilled at forming coherent arguments, so the principles of thought leadership marketing should come naturally.
The idea is to establish key individuals as industry experts - trusted voices that can offer actionable advice and shrewd commentary - engaging new audiences and encouraging brand loyalty in a manner that isn't driven by sales messaging.
On trend and evergreen
The great dilemma is whether to focus on trending topics or evergreen insights, but both have their advantages. If your content is on trend, it shows that you're abreast of the latest developments and issues affecting your field - you're adaptable and responsive to new legislation, and can act with authority, even on the fly.
Commenting on news items relevant to your niche can help you gain recognition, with reporters potentially citing your opinions or even approaching you for direct quotes - fantastic PR that can enhance your reputation.
Likewise, producing evergreen, future-proof content on common areas of law will demonstrate an ability to address client needs, showing that you know how to resolve particular issues with tried and tested solutions. Answering frequently asked questions not only showcases expertise, but also increases the likelihood of new clients finding your website via search engine queries.
Delivery of content
Aside from driving traffic, a regularly updated blog gives you a chance to demonstrate the personal side of your business, helping to build the client relationships on which long-term success depends. Regular posts will mean you have an archive of content to demonstrate your long-term expertise, as well as giving you material to link to in email newsletters and social media updates.
LinkedIn, in particular, offers extended promotional reach: clients who are connected with you are warm leads - they know who you are, they are interested in you, and they most likely trust your opinion. By engaging with their comments you can guide them to content which may be of use, reinforcing your relationship. Additionally, posting unique articles on LinkedIn Pulse will strengthen your standing among those already in your network, while also opening the door to a whole new world of potential connections.
Another option is to offer unique articles to third-party websites. You'll want to target reputable publications that have great metrics and the right audience, boosting your search engine optimisation (SEO) with healthy backlinks, and putting your content in front of the right people.
Benefits of thought leadership
Publishing regular, rich, and relevant material creates a 'ping' in the awareness of both established and potential new clients. Content associated with a specific service or issue, targeted to particular demographics, is better than generalist content produced for the sake of regularity. Specific content creates a link between a client's needs and the firm's offering - it's driven by and contributes to the sales process, but not in an overtly 'salesy' way.
Good thought leadership needs a distinctive style and underlying substance that is relevant, relatable, rigorous, and robust. It has to be attractive, accessible, and easy to share - if people engage with your output, they'll be doing your marketing for you.
This is why law firms should be incubating and developing individuals who are associated with specialisms: thought leaders can produce the targeted content that today's online marketing demands, enhancing your credibility and extending your reach.
With UK adults now spending more time on the Internet than they do engaging with television, radio, or print media, traditional advertising routes are proving less productive, and thought leadership could become central to your marketing mantra. SJ
Ben Hollom is the managing director of online content specialists M2 Bespoke