Posted by: johnocunningham | May 26, 2014

Keys to Content Marketing

A recent blog post on content marketing by Larry Bodine, perhaps the best known legal writer and editor today, illustrates why content marketing is such an important driver of law firm service marketing.

Larry suggests that smart law firms who want to use content marketing effectively must take three steps:

  • Appointing a dedicated content manager;
  • Hiring professional writers with appropriate skills, knowledge and training;  and
  • Coming up with a content strategy in writing.

I would add that the content strategy must be calculated to put content into the hands of decision-makers, influencers and referral sources who can drive business to the firm. Thus, law firms need to figure out who their target audience is for particular types of content, figure out how to reach them, and come up with content that is designed to appeal to the targets.

While I have not seen it done, I think it would be very helpful for law firms or other professional service providers to survey sample members of their target audience about the kinds of content they want, they need and they like or don’t like. It is important to know their preferences as to both style and substance as well.

Having interviewed over more than a decade numerous general counsel and other people in the C-suites who influence outside counsel selection, I have discerned many common preferences, including:

  • A preference for content that is well “headlined” with executive synopses of key takeaways;
  • A preference for content that is particularly relevant to their industry and business (with analyses of effects of a news item, practice trend or court decision on their particular industry or business); and
  • A preference for content that is timely (not delivered a month after everyone else has written about it).

The content should also speak to their number one concern – their business. You have to explain the “so what” of a story. Nobody is interested in academic discussions and mental gymnastics designed to demonstrate legal hair-splitting abilities in a vacuum. So whenever you come up with content for your target audience, you must compose that content in a way that makes it relevant to their profitability, growth or survival.

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