For law firm marketers, 2014 will be a continuation of 2013. The digital revolution is not going away and content marketing is still the focus. We learned a lot in 2013 about both and, even though social networking sites are popping up like weeds (or should I say Vines?) and there’s more stuff to read than we can get to, we don’t see these trends going away anytime soon.
That said, many firms aren’t going to be beefing up their marketing budgets to keep pace with the growing need for creative, multimedia content. This presents a creative challenge for law firm marketers who will have to do more with less. That’s why I predict that 2014 will be the year in which legal marketers will need to think small, strategically and creatively for big results.
As you plan out your 2014 communication strategy, here are a few tools and tactics to consider.
Less is more in many ways
I predict that content marketing will finally settle into most law firm marketing and PR strategies. But, to be effective, legal communicators need to make a bold move and get to the point. Attention spans have been reduced, and the quantity of information has increased. So how can you be successful in the content marketing arena in 2014?
The answer just might be shorter content. As the legal community begins to adapt to the idea of storytelling, it will be those who take the short-form who will find greater success. One way to do this is to strategically develop one large body of work – say, a white paper or case study – and then repurpose and distribute it in smaller chunks that are easy to understand quickly and retain.
Also, don’t feel that there is a quota you have to reach. Publish less content but make sure that content is client-centric and substantive so it will work longer and harder for you. I would advise applying this thought process to most of your marketing and business development activities, including in-person presentations.
Mobile is the big factor in 2014. More than 60 percent of our time spent on social channels is now done on handheld devices. Publishers predict that most of their content in 2014 will be viewed on smartphones, followed by tablets.
Marketers must understand how their clients interact with these different content platforms. Be sure your brand information and your brand experience are consistent across all deliverable formats. Keep in mind that mobile-friendly sites take more time to develop, and costs are much higher than those related to building a non-mobile, responsive website. So plan accordingly, and get your message in the palm of your audience’s hand.
I doubt the legal marketing industry will see a big focus on short-form marketing in 2014, but those law firms that take a creative approach and apply short-form campaigns to their content marketing strategies will lead the way and stand out from their competition.
I personally think that, in the legal marketing arena, using social media sites like Vine, Instagram and SnapChat in 2014 will change the way we communicate in the professional services industry. These tools have higher engagement, sharing and views than any other form of social media.
In-stream videos will finally take center stage in law firm marketing in 2014 as Twitter and other short-form content networks will be used to promote and distribute visual content for greater engagement. The success of these sites in other industries tells me that visual content is the preferred form of receiving information. This makes video more effective in engaging and fostering interaction with audiences than written words alone.
Additional trends to be aware of in 2014
There are a few other trends that I think we will see in the legal marketing arena.
- More law firms will begin hiring Chief Content Officers.
- Interactive videos and collateral will begin to surface.
- Real-time marketing will become a new way of thinking, with legal marketers and PR reps participating in conversations instead of just sending out content.
- Impact will be given priority over reach. The use of analytics will be the most important information we have when it comes to the success of our marketing. Knowing what is successful is power, and this knowledge will allow you to make changes and react instantly.
- There will be fewer acts of random content marketing and more strategic client and audience-centric activities.
- Distribution strategies will be very important, and traditional PR tactics like press releases will become a part of a more strategic and creative content strategy, which will focus more on storytelling and engagement.
2013 proved to be a very exciting year for marketing and brand awareness activities, and 2014 will be no different. The longer we wait to incorporate these communication tools and new ways of thinking into legal marketing, the further our industry will fall behind. If you would like to discuss my predictions for 2014 legal marketing, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow me on twitter or connect on Google+.