As the holiday season approaches, some attorneys are focused on helping clients achieve year-end objectives or working toward billable targets, while others are vacationing. This presents an opportunity for in-house marketing professionals to leverage any dip in business development activity to evaluate and tweak their content strategy before things heat up in January.
While reputation goes a long way in attracting new clients, having a solid content strategy is a critical component of the legal sales cycle at all turns, including retaining the clients you have. As legal marketers, we sell trusted advisors. Attorneys earn “trusted advisor” status over time through relationship building, preemptively identifying client needs and providing solutions. Pushing out timely and consistent content is a key way to do this.
Pushing out timely and consistent content is also incredibly time consuming. Is it worth it? The answer is yes, if you have a content strategy.
Getting the right information, in front of the right person, at the right time is the ultimate challenge. Often, producing content is reactive and the immediate questions answered are — who will write it and when? A successful content strategy is proactive, requires foresight and process and is constantly evolving based on analytical performance.
While content is often produced around market and industry trends, it should also reflect the law firm or attorney’s value proposition(s). When creating a content strategy for 2019, an audit that evaluates practices and industries will uncover opportunities, which are gaps in content that are not being addressed.
If you do not already have an intake process for content, consider adopting one. Creating content for the sake of it is a losing strategy and will lead to wasted time and frustrated attorneys reluctant to write. Understanding the message, and who needs to receive it, should be discussed and/or communicated to all parties involved. This includes the authors and the team members responsible for promoting the message.
Equally important, once your team understands the objective of the content, proactive decisions need to be made about where the content will live, how it will be promoted, and the best way to extend its life. An intake meeting with your marketing team, once they understand the what and why, will address the how. The investment up front will be worth it. If you wait, the opportunity to repurpose will fade.
Repurposing content is the key to a successful content-based marketing campaign. A checklist of all platforms should be considered at each intake meeting: Podcasts. Syndication software. Social media. Speaking opportunities. White papers. Banner ads. There are too many to list, but whatever platforms are chosen, they should achieve the team’s objectives and align with the personality and preferences of the attorney with whom you are working.
For example, what if the attorney you are working with dislikes writing or feels too busy? Do not let this prevent your team from producing content. Sometimes, we need to adjust what we are asking for in a way that results in the same product. If we ask that attorney (that dislikes writing or feels too busy) a question that is aligned with her value proposition, he or she will usually deliver a verbal message that can easily be transcribed into quality content that requires minimal editing. Ask great questions and you’ll receive great answers, which will result into meaningful content. Allowing flexibility based on attorney personality and preferences can move the content production along.
Another tactic to offset the time commitment associated with developing content is to align advertising dollars with opportunities that feature events transcribed by media. Virtual expert roundtables that feature answers to key questions the firm wants answered can also be highly impactful and expand audience. Flexibility is key. Understand your options and align your choices with the attorney and subject matter.
The intake process and repurposing as described above only works if the marketing team is operating within a system that allows for the team to envision, collaborate and schedule their activities together in one place that allows for transparency, measurement and a culture where learning is valued.
A cohesive, engaged team is required to push out content across multiple platforms in a consistent manner. For this reason, adopting an editorial calendar or system to house marketing campaigns is recommended. It doesn’t matter if it’s an excel spreadsheet, an internal database or a purchased software. The key is to have a process and system that is understood and adopted as a team, working toward a common objective.
To recap, if you are fortunate enough to experience a slight respite in business development activity, take a pause to evaluate what you can do to improve on your existing content strategy in the first quarter of 2019. Perhaps pick just one or two areas and build out a robust marketing campaign. Include your full team. Explain the why, and achieve the how together. Measure it. Tweak it. Repeat.
Jen Betterncourt is Marketing and Business Development Manager for Goulston & Storrs in Boston. She brings broad experience implementing all facets of law firm management from strategic planning to operational process improvement. Jen can be reached at email@example.com.
The views expressed in the article are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of their clients or other attorneys in their firm.