Why Content Marketing?
There are countless things to be done when you start your law practice- one of the most important being obtaining clients. While referrals and in-person networking are worthwhile efforts in finding clients, hitting the pavement every day can be cost and time intensive endeavors that might not yield any return. The responsibilities of managing client work and business administration make your time a precious commodity, which is why you need to help clients find you. Outside of direct referrals, if someone needs an attorney they will search for one online. Using social media and a website to advertise your business directly can influence a prospect to become your client by providing them with the information to contact you to set up a consultation. However, you must also market your business. Marketing, as opposed to advertising, is how you build your brand and tell your brand story.
With that said, how you market your business is also important. The trend in content marketing has grown significantly over the years as audiences have shifted to online media, consuming content in entirely new and innovative ways. This method has led to businesses big and small to develop comprehensive content strategies. It is noteworthy that the legal industry often thought as an archaic industry, have become one of the leading users of content marketing. Recently, there has been a shift in the way law firms market their services and share information. Publishing useful and engaging content, connecting with key audiences on social media and demonstrating your knowledge through blog posts, videos and other media are replacing old-school law firm marketing methods.
Thought of as being separate from traditional advertising, content marketing is about communicating with customers in a way that adds value, without the direct sales pitch. The content itself is editorially-minded, and while contextually relevant to a product or service, provides information in the form of entertainment, education, emotional connection, or practical value. The strategy employed focuses on creating and sharing valuable content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content created and shared is ideally closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.
For law firms, effective content marketing requires well-written communication that conveys a compelling, useful, focused message that triggers people to act. One of the main ways lawyers utilize content marketing is through blogging. Lawyers use their blogs as a publishing platform on the web to inform and educate their clients, prospects, and referral sources, and in the process, build their brand. Through blogging, they can establish themselves as experts in their industry by publishing articles addressing emerging trends, current cases, that showcase their ability to understand and dissect these topics in a unique way. Consequently, they can create interest in a prospect and direct the right traffic to their website, and solidify their reputation and expertise within their industry.
Intelligent Content Marketing
Recently, there has been a shift away from creating content for contents’ sake and a much greater emphasis on the value of creating content with specific goals. Businesses have begun to see the value of using intelligent content to guide content marketing planning decisions. Online marketing is becoming increasingly more crowded, which requires businesses to adapt to get their content heard. It is this competition that has forced businesses to look towards intelligent content creation.
Major law firms are taking notice and are quickly adopting intelligent content for their content marketing strategies. The Content Marketing Institute defines “intelligent content” as a strategic approach to developing and managing content as a business asset; an efficient use of content processes, people, and technology; content designed for automation, including content components that can be mixed and matched assembly-line style; content that’s appropriately structured for retrieval and reuse; and content that’s personalized in ways that deliver value for customers and potential customers.
Essentially, the goal of intelligent content marketing is creating useful, relevant content-instead of directly pitching your services–to establish thought leadership, inform and engage with clients, and be top of mind with prospects, influencers, and referral sources – ultimately to drive business. By utilizing intelligent content as a new approach to content marketing —law firms can develop content that emphasizes structure, semantic categorization, and automatic discoverability of content assets. For law firms with multiple services and practice areas, intelligent content can make it easier to produce content optimized for different users and channels, reduce development and maintenance costs, reduce the cost of translating content, and improve content consistency and quality.
Legal Unlocked and Intelligent Content
Over the last year, Trellis Legal has focused on providing valuable content through our website, blog, and newsletter. Building upon our existing content marketing strategy, we decided to develop intelligent content through Legal Unlocked- an online platform that educates users builds trust and influence and drives business through a streamlined process. Legal Unlocked allows our prospects and clients to identify their needs, estimate the cost of their legal services, and then schedule a meeting with an attorney in an easy 3 step process. We want to use our content to not only educate but to strip away the barriers to making legal services more accessible to clients.
In Step 1, the user can explore our areas of practice and services we provide through written and video content. This step allows prospects to decipher their needs and learn more about their unique legal issues along with an explanation of what we provide for their need. Users can access useful information organized by practice areas where they can learn about their legal need, related legal issues, and what services we provide. Rather than sifting through numerous blog posts, we make it easier to pinpoint a topic and find relevant information. Along with our written content, Legal Unlocked provides video content that gives an overview of the practice area and related legal services we provide. The videos not only provide useful information, but we can make a personal connection that differentiates ourselves from other attorneys while building trust with the user. By keeping our clients informed and educated we aim to instill confidence in clients and prospects to engage with us because they have the tools they need to make adjustments to their business’ operations and adapt to the changing legal landscape through engaging us for legal services. Providing relevant information in an organized manner also provides the user to perform a kind of self-audit of their legal needs because they can easily explore multiple services that they might have not previously considered necessary.
Next, Step 2 directs the user to our pricing calculator, where they can obtain an instant price quote. After they receive their price quote, the user is directed to Step 3- an automated scheduler to set up an initial meeting with the attorney of their choice. Users can easily estimate their costs and quickly schedule a meeting with an attorney. Users can get an idea of how much they need to budget for their legal service and then can schedule an appointment with an attorney without having to write out a lengthy email to schedule the first meeting. By removing these barriers, our business also benefits by saving time and energy providing price quotes and scheduling through back and forth emails.
Law firms will need to be ready to adapt to changes in technology and user preferences and look towards adopting a robust content marketing strategy. The market competition for online visibility is growing, and adapting to these new marketing strategies could be the key to building a successful law firm or falling behind.