According to the Content Marketing Institute, 93 percent of B2B companies are using content marketing. That’s up slightly from 91 percent in 2013. Suffice to say, content marketing is a big deal, and nearly everyone – save for that lagging 7 percent – is finding ways to leverage the time-tested tactics.
But with so many content assets – the digital and print vehicles that can be used to deliver content – legal marketers might feel a little overwhelmed about where to begin. The worst thing you can do is to start on an ad hoc basis, developing and pushing out content without a clear strategy in place. You’ll end up expending excessive resources with results that are not proportional to your investment.
That’s why constructing what content marketing professionals refer to as a “content ecosystem” is so necessary and is one of the first steps any marketer should take when developing a comprehensive law firm content marketing strategy.
The following is a step-by-step process to help you construct your own content marketing program.
Identify Your Assets
First, take inventory of what you already have. Odds are you’ve got a website. You might also have printed brochures, white papers and digital client alerts. Don’t forget about social media and e-newsletters as well. All of this will come into play in your content strategy.
Mind the Gaps
Next, identify what you’re missing. If you have a website but no social media presence, you’re potentially losing a major traffic referral source. If you have social media but no blogs, you might be lacking a significant content development asset.
Understand the Value of Each Asset
You wouldn’t use a hammer to turn a screw, just as you wouldn’t use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail. The same can be said about content marketing assets. After all, a website is not a blog, a blog is not a Twitter account and a Twitter account is not an e-newsletter.
Each content marketing tool serves a unique purpose and targets unique – though often overlapping – audiences. To effectively implement a content marketing program at your law firm, you need to understand the inherent benefits of each platform.
The following is a quick rundown of the strengths of some of the most common content marketing assets. Note that there is room for variance, depending on your uses and audiences.
- Websites – The epicenter of your content ecosystem, the website is where the totality of your content exists. It is your prime sales and information portal.
- Blogs – If your website is a tree, blogs are its branches. They enable your firm to develop niche content that targets a specific audience. For example, a full-service firm with a strong intellectual property practice might develop an IP-centric blog to target a narrower market segment.
- Social media – Social media networks, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, are your delivery mechanisms. They are usually not where content originates, although LinkedIn’s recent introduction of long-form posts could change that. Rather, they are vehicles for the content that is being produced on your websites and blogs. Think of them as a lure that you use to attract visitors to your site. They also are powerful engagement tools that allow law firms and attorneys to interact directly with individuals and organizations in meaningful ways.
- E-newsletters – While social media are tools that help you share your content with the world at large, e-newsletters are similar vehicles with one important distinction – they help you narrowly focus your target audience, e.g., specific industries, practice areas, etc. Also, like social media, the goal of an e-newsletter is to use it as a referral source to attract readers to your website. Never post an entire article in the body of a newsletter. Instead, host it on your website or blog and use teaser text with a link that diverts traffic to your main content platform.
Create a Process
Once you have a clear understanding of your current assets, the assets you’re missing and the uses of each asset, you can start tying everything together with a process. This is the heart of the content ecosystem concept, where content is born in one location and then circulated and repurposed through various channels.
For example, let’s say your IP practice wants to publish a new blog post on the America Invent Act. Before they publish, your marketing team will want to work with them not only to time the post, but to strategize and time all related content as well. This includes potentially adding some teaser text and a link to the authoring attorney’s bio page, scheduling LinkedIn and Twitter updates promoting the post, and calendaring the article for distribution in the firm’s monthly IP newsletter.
By taking the time upfront to build a comprehensive content marketing ecosystem, you will expend significantly less time actually running your content marketing initiative. So don’t be one of those 7 percent of B2B marketers who are missing the boat – start developing your content strategy today.
Have a comment? Leave one below or contact Terry M. Isner at firstname.lastname@example.org.