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The first step to creating a content marketing strategy that can drive increased revenue to your smaller B2B law firm is a formal plan. In fact, studies show that documented content marketing strategies are most effective while “spray and pray” approaches are not only a waste of precious resources, they usually fail.
The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) found that 44% of B2B marketers had a formal written or documented content marketing strategy in 2015. In a 2014 law firm survey conducted by Greentarget, just 25% of law firms did.
A primary argument many law firms make against launching a sustained, documented content marketing program over using other more traditional forms of marketing has been the inability to measure effectiveness. But, there is a clear path to a well-performing content marketing strategy with measurable results.
Best-in-Class Marketers Have a Documented Strategy
Many law firms ask, “Will content marketing be effective and how will we know?”
Research proves the answer to that question is, “Yes but only a documented marketing strategy that gets measured for performance.”
Of those who adopted content marketing as a fundamental aspect of their 360-degree marketing plan in 2014, CMI said 44% of B2B marketers (and 43% of B2C marketers) believe those efforts are effective.
CMI also found that 66% of those with a documented content marketing strategy felt their efforts were effective versus 11% without a formal plan. The former group also was among the best-in-class marketers who invested the most in and saw the best results from their content marketing.
Having a documented strategy drives performance, so it behooves law firms to get their content marketing plan on paper.
Use Best Practices to Structure Your Content Marketing Strategy
Besides being formal, what does a robust law firm content marketing strategy look like and how do you create it? The best practices for establishing and executing a formal plan remain pretty standard.
In general, below is the order in which your team should plan, implement and measure the success of your content marketing strategy. It’s a repeatable approach that employs a variety of tools and tactics that will be unique to your law firm. But, evidence shows that consistently using this method leads to successful content marketing.
Identify and target your core audiences; focus your content on their needs
Based on your law firm’s practice areas, your past and current clients and your law firm’s activities, determine who your primary legal audiences are. Also consider your law firm’s founding principles, brand identity, and business development goals but focus on what essential to your current stakeholders first.
Determine what your audiences’ interests, questions, needs, and desires are and how they connect back to your brand. This information will help you make your content relevant or targeted to your their requirements and create it in their language. Remember, your content marketing strategy revolves around your audience.
Determine where your audiences are online and offline
Once you’ve identified your audiences and their content needs, determine where they engage online and want to receive that content digitally. You should consider the web, social and mobile for content distribution because none is “optional” any longer.
But, you won’t share all content digitally so take offline content distribution into account, too. Both strategies require planning and using relevant content to reach your target audiences.
Create, curate, and optimize your content
Law firms already regularly create substantial content that is useful in marketing. Identify with your marketing team or law firm marketing consultant, which of your content you can repurpose and what new content you’ll need to create.
Optimize it to make sure it’s relevant to your audiences as well as designed for and works on the digital platforms you’ll use to reach them with your content.
Syndicate and promote your content across platforms
Part of your formal content marketing strategy should be an official, monthly content calendar. Consider using tools like CoSchedule, Hootsuite or Sprout Social to schedule and distribute your content. Decide, too, what traditional platforms, like print media, you’ll use for some of your content marketing activities.
But, you should carefully plan this critical aspect of your reach strategy and only adopt the traditional and digital media tactics you’ve determined work with your audience.
Connect and engage with and listen to your audiences
Once you distribute your content across the social web, engage with your audience regularly. Connect with your audience using compelling, unique content specifically for that purpose. Engagement will require regular monitoring of your social platforms and “listening” to your audience to determine what’s connecting and generating engagement and what’s failing.
Measure, analyze and revise your content marketing strategy
Don’t skip this process because it is a crucial aspect of your content marketing strategy. As part of your content methodology, it determines if your plan is effective and where your content marketing strategy needs revision. Use tools specifically designed for law firms like Lawlytics or Siteimprove.
Smaller law firms can use analytics products specifically for their size and budget, but free tools like Yoast and Google Analytics work well, too. It’s important to collect data available from SEO analytics tools or most social media platforms to measure what’s working. Analyze these data at least quarterly and revise your content marketing plan based on what you learn.
Consider Resource Allocation and Legal Ethics
The most effective content marketing campaigns require significant resource allocation. CMI found that of best-in-class marketers 86% have someone dedicated to content marketing, and they commit 39% of their marketing budget to the strategy.
Even if you’re a smaller law firm, expect to devote the time, money and people (including outside consultants, if necessary) to the process. Start by creating a plan that fits your firm’s current resources to determine what that means.
But, by all means, get started. Don’t let budget or resource constraints prevent you from beginning your content marketing program. Even a small scale content marketing program is more profitable than none at all. You can start as small as writing one blog post a week and posting that social media.
Whatever you do, your content must be consistent and high quality. Your content marketing program becomes a content marketing commitment to your audience once you begin.
Finally, while it’s essential to abide by state bar rules related to advertising and promotion, your firm should not let concerns about ethics keep you from planning and executing a robust content marketing strategy for your law firm.
While content marketing for law firms is relatively new, it doesn’t have to be reactionary. Formal strategies are most effective, and law firms that want to be a resource for their audiences—the “go to” or pure play law firms for their practice areas—are creating them and engaging in their strong execution.
(c) 2016-2019. Dahna M. Chandler for Get Money Moxie, Inc. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced in whole or in part without express written permission of the author.
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