5 Ways To Raise the Bar on Law Firm Content Marketing
By Phyllis Furman
November 16, 2023 | 5-minute read
Communications Interactive and Digital Marketing Website Design and Content Firm Organizational Structure and Dynamics Content Type Article
It’s no secret that after a tough 2022, law firms continued to face economic headwinds this year. With demand for legal services sputtering, firms will need better marketing tools in 2024 to distinguish themselves from their competitors and generate new business. Enter content marketing.
Most law firms engage in some form of content marketing, from regularly publishing articles online to posting press releases announcing the latest new hire or client victory on their LinkedIn pages. However, much of what passes for law firm content is written by lawyers themselves and barely registers with current and prospective clients. The insights from one firm on a major decision or a new legal development are often very similar to what other firms have written.
In a fiercely competitive market, a comprehensive content marketing strategy can help firms improve engagement with target audiences, demonstrate their capabilities and accomplishments and generate business leads.
Here are five ways to get started.
1. Enlist the Support of Firm Management
It’s important to communicate the value of content marketing to firm leaders and enlist their participation in content creation.
Consider sharing stats such as this one from the Content Marketing Institute: Content marketing generates over three times as many leads as traditional forms of marketing and costs 62% less.
The firm’s management team, along with its partners, should set the broad agenda for the firm’s content marketing program and key messages to impart. By demonstrating support for content marketing efforts, firm leaders signal to others this is an important initiative that merits attention.
You will want lawyers at all levels to play a role in producing content. The best content marketing programs operate like newsrooms. The firm’s lawyers, as well as its business professionals, act as sources the content marketing team can rely on to provide content ideas.
With this in mind, create a framework for gathering ideas — like periodically reaching out to lawyers and staff to solicit their content suggestions. In addition, form an editorial council whose members will determine which suggestions match your firm’s goals and should be turned into content.
2. Think Like a Journalist
Law firm content doesn’t need to be dull and formulaic; it should be engaging and even entertaining. On average, readers spend just 52 seconds reading a blog post. How can you keep their attention? By taking a journalistic approach.
That means finding unique angles and telling compelling, timely stories, using a variety of content types — including articles, listicles, videos, animated graphics and podcasts. The goal is to create engaging and useful content that doesn’t overtly promote your firm.
Think about it this way: What is a prospective client more likely to read — a dull press release announcing a victory in a high-stakes lawsuit, or a well-crafted deep dive into the challenges your legal team faced and strategies used to win?
3. Unleash Your Creativity
A firm partner once asked me to create a piece of content that explored his unique take on private equity fund terms. Rather than writing an article, my team designed an infographic summarizing his points.
Once published, we broke down the graphic into various components and serialized the lawyer’s insights with multiple social media posts. In doing so, the attorney reached more potential clients than he would have with a single written report.
This strategy is called atomization, and it involves cutting a single piece of content into smaller bites of information that can be presented in various formats. Atomization allows marketers to extract more value out of existing content, reach larger audiences and reinforce their messages.
The next time your firm generates a lengthy white paper on a new law with widespread impact on your clients, think about creative ways you can turn the report into short videos, infographics or quote cards.
4. Carve Out Content Pillars
What should you be talking about? What are the topics that you should visit on a regular basis? The answer to these questions will help you determine your content pillars — a set of broad content categories that will serve as the foundation for your content marketing program.
If your firm focuses on a particular industry or type of client work, consider making those one of your pillars. Firm culture — who you are and what you stand for — might be a pillar as well. Think about the topics that would be of most interest to current and prospective clients. Consult with the firm’s leaders to ensure that the content pillars you choose align with their goals.
Lastly, track your published content to make sure you’re giving equal weight to your designated pillars.
5. Consider Creating a Content Hub
Content hubs are websites where brands aggregate their storytelling. A well-executed content hub becomes an audience destination, much like a traditional media website produced by a news organization
Law firms can use content hubs to display their insights, highlight their client work and showcase their people and values. Another important advantage: content hubs can boost your firm’s rankings in search engine optimization (SEO) searches.
Case in point, my content marketing agency, Group SJR, created For the Record — a newsroom — for Spotify ahead of the company’s initial public offering in 2018. Since then, the site has grown significantly, while fueling earned media, consumer and influencer engagement on key business-driving topics for the brand. For the Record drives millions of monthly page views, with a 190% year-over-year increase since its launch in 2018.
Keep in mind, launching a content hub requires editorial expertise and a commitment to frequently finding fresh content ideas to populate the site. If you don’t have the budget to produce a content hub, there are viable alternatives for publishing content, including your LinkedIn page or firm website. Regardless of the mode of distribution you choose, focus on producing content that is engaging, valuable and insightful.
As a marketer, you have a choice. You can continue to rely on outdated modes of promoting your firm, or you can engage clients and drive conversations with a comprehensive content marketing plan.
No accomplished firm would ever engage in client work without having a comprehensive strategy. Your content marketing deserves the same.