Most law firms these days understand the importance of content marketing. Producing relevant content that demonstrates your expertise to prospective clients can generate a massive return on investment. However, the challenge that most lawyers face is that they often have very little marketing experience, resulting in poorly executed content marketing efforts, writes Mira Stammers.
If you want your marketing efforts to pay off, it’s crucial that you don’t make the mistakes that I see most lawyers (and even big law firms with marketing departments) are making.
Ask yourself, are you committing any of these content marketing mistakes?
1. Forgetting to define your avatar
The biggest mistake most lawyers make is that they don’t have a clearly identified target market or ideal client (often called an ‘avatar’). Lawyers generally have a vague idea about the clients they would like to work with, but they haven't spent time really getting to know their ideal client well.
The problem is that if you don’t know who your ideal client is, it makes it almost impossible to know how to frame and pitch your content. Are you talking to a small business owner or a sophisticated property investor? What do they need to know about your expertise? What problems are they facing? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s worth spending the time getting clear on this.
Once you have identified your target market and can describe your ideal client in great detail, then you can discover what their legal problems are (hint: ask them). Of course, once you know that you can go about trying to provide content to help them solve those problems. This will not only highlight your expertise, but will make you very valuable to prospective clients.
If you ignore this crucial first step, your marketing efforts can be diluted and often be very ineffective.
2. Creating irrelevant content
Another mistake lawyers make when creating content is that they don’t know what their clients don’t know, or what they want to know. Instead, lawyers will make assumptions about what information is relevant to their clients, which often results in missing the mark considerably.
It’s therefore important to ask your current clients what information they need and want. Better yet, research keyword searches on Google to see what answers people are searching for.
The key to creating valuable content is to understand exactly what your ideal client wants to know. What you think they need to know and what they actually want to know are often two very different things.
Further, don’t forget that you’re probably making an incorrect assumption about what your clients already know. This can lead to pitching content that is too complicated, too, early on.
A few years ago, I asked a big group of prospective clients what they would like to read about in my blogs. They said they wanted to know the difference between property lawyers and conveyancers. Surprising right? So I took that on board and wrote a blog about the differences. To this day, it’s one of the most read blogs I’ve ever written.
3. Using the legal jargon
I run a legal marketing company and a content marketing business, so I read a lot of legal articles and blogs. It is overwhelming how many law firms use legal jargon in their legal blogs and updates. I’m sure they think it makes them look very knowledgeable, and therefore, credible. The problem with this strategy is that if your clients can’t easily understand your content, then they probably won’t keep reading. Trust me, you want them to keep reading. The longer they are on your website, the more likely they are to reach out and contact you.
So please try to take the time to write your content in plain language. Try to use legal terminology only when you absolutely have to. If you do use it, explain what that term is in plain language. This will help ease your reader’s confusion and anxiety. It will also help them connect with you as a person who isn’t trying to be elitist (I know we’re all lovely, but clients don’t always think so!). Remember, great content marketing is easily and quickly digested.
4. It's not just about you
Successful content marketers understand that the purpose of creating content is to provide value to the reader (your avatar) ideally in a way that is easily understood, gets to the point and solves a problem.
Whether you’re using blogs or videos, try not to go on about yourself and your experience too much. Demonstrating your experience is good for credibility, but the focus has to be on providing the information your client is looking for, so the content has to be about them, not you.
Often lawyers will put a call to action at the end of a blog, perhaps for a free consultation. I've been guilty of doing this, too. But what you could do instead is give them a free content upgrade so as to provide even more value to them. Perhaps you could add a link to a related blog or a free guide on a relevant topic. You may even choose to exchange their email address for this information so you can build a relationship with them via email automation later (hint: if you’re not doing this, you should be).
5. Action but no strategy
Creating valuable content takes time and effort, so it’s important to make sure that every bit of content you create can stretch as far as possible.
However, many lawyers don’t see the importance of a content marketing strategy, which often results in their valuable content getting lost in archives over time.
A great content marketing strategy analyses the type of content you will create, links it to important or newsworthy events, and allows for greater distribution and repurposing of that content. A content marketing strategy not only saves you time, but often results in a higher return on investment from the content you have created.
While most lawyers understand the importance of creating great content, few understand how a content marketing strategy can help you get the most mileage out of your content. To get the results you’re after, you will need both action and strategy.
Mira Stammers is a lawyer, entrepreneur, academic, consultant, author and public speaker. Mira is most commonly known for being the co-founder of Legally Yours, one of the first legal marketplaces in the world. She writes regularly for legal and business publications, teaches NewLaw at La Trobe University, and is soon to release her book The Modern Lawyer.