In the marketing hall of fame, the shibboleths gallery has a prominent place set aside for an engraving that reads, “Every law firm needs a blog.”
Lawyers everywhere won’t be surprised by the answer: It depends.
No silver bullets in law firm marketing
Law firm marketing is anything but one-size-fits-all.
Some firms will struggle to compete without a robust content marketing strategy. Consumer-oriented practices – think personal injury or family law – can get a substantial amount of business from improving their search engine rankings. A top spot on Google for a long-tail keyword like “car accident lawyer in Pasadena” justifies the marketing investment that’s required to achieve it.
Other firms view a well-fed blog and other content marketing strategies, like professionally produced white papers, as a necessity. It’s what their peers are doing and it’s what their clients expect. A firm in the Big Law stratosphere (or with ambitions of getting there) cannot afford to surrender the digital marketing arena to the competition.
There’s a third category of firm for whom the value proposition of content marketing is less clear. These small and mid-sized firms rely almost exclusively on reputation to find new clients. Their prospects aren’t using Google to find them. In fact, someone that does find them through a Google search probably isn’t their ideal client, though lightning sometimes strikes twice. Like any business, they’d like to grow, but they aren’t struggling, either.
Practices in this third, referral-driven category may not see marketing as a good value. Their attorneys might write a few blog posts per year as the urge strikes them. Perhaps the office manager posts newsworthy items to Facebook, but there’s no social media strategy to speak of. The founding partners might not be on social media at all – they grew a successful practice without it and don’t have time or interest to start now.
Three partners walk into a blog…
Distinctions between practice types don’t tell the whole story. Law firms are a distinctive type of business in which branding is important both for the organization as a whole and for the individual professionals who make up the team.
Branding the organization typically is of paramount importance for a law firm, even if it is very small. The strength of a firm is greater than the sum of its parts. By building a distinct organizational brand, partners shift from building a career to building an institution.
Personal branding of each attorney is also important. A lot of legal marketing involves networking by individual attorneys. For practices with clients who choose their attorneys on an individual basis, rather than a firm basis, every professional needs a robust, personalized marketing presence.
Bridging the gap between the individual preferences of attorneys and their collective interests as a firm can be a challenge. Lawyers tend to have strong opinions about how they want to be presented in marketing materials. Crafting a unified marketing strategy is key to building up the brand of both the forest and the trees.
What can content marketing do for a law firm?
Let’s take a step back and look at what we mean by content marketing. Outside the marketing industry, the term is not well understood. “Content” is deliberately ambiguous, since it can be applied to any form of recorded communication: not just words on a page, but photos, videos, downloadable reports, and so on. Despite working in the biz, I’m not a big fan of the word.
If “content” is excessively broad, “marketing” is dangerously limiting. What comes to mind when you think of marketing? Advertising? Propaganda? Pushy salespeople?
Content marketing has aspects of each of those things. At Red Mallard, we do our share of pure advertising for clients. Email blasts to a huge mailing list have their place in the content marketing world. But the bulk of the work we do can simply be described as professional communications.
With that in mind, a cohesive content marketing strategy does several things for a law firm:
- Enhance existing relationships. A firm’s current clients are its greatest asset. Providing them with a steady stream of quality content demonstrates a firm’s commitment to being a valued resource.
- Supercharge referrals. The most highly targeted content delivery can come from people who already know and trust the firm forwarding a piece of content to one of their friends.
- Promote individual attorneys. The “personal branding” of every attorney at a law firm ultimately becomes a component of the firm’s brand. By crafting a content strategy around its people, a firm highlights its expertise while also putting faces and names on its work.
- Standardize and expand news items. People love to read about what’s happening with the businesses they’re connected to. Law firms tend to be dynamic places with plenty of news to share: new hires, partnership changes, speaking engagements, weddings, new babies . . . it’s all worthwhile content.
- Attract fresh talent. A firm’s content marketing can have a profound impact on how it is perceived by job seekers. Attorneys like to see their values reflected in a firm’s content. Even better, they like to see that a firm gives their team opportunities for growth. The same is true for paralegals, secretaries, and other key components of a successful practice.
Smash through ceilings with better marketing
Red Mallard turns our clients’ expertise into compelling content. Law firms are among our favorite types of clients. They tend to know good writing when they see it, they always have interesting stories to tell, and they rarely have enough time to devote to marketing on their own.
We serve as a bolt-on marketing department, helping the firm promote itself and its professionals on its website, on social media, and across the spectrum of digital and print.
How can we help your firm achieve its growth objectives? Send me an email at email@example.com to start a conversation.