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Content marketing: the next evolution in selling yourself

By David J. Bradley

BOSTON, MA — Law firm marketing has three primary drivers throughout the industry: Establish your authority, differentiate from the many competitors, and make the greatest impact with the lowest investment of resources needed.

As a lawyer, you have a specialty area about which you are most knowledgeable and impassioned. Your marketing should embrace and build on that.

One of the most effective ways of establishing your authority in a specific field is through content marketing, a proven technique being used more and more by local startups and global Fortune 100 companies alike.

What is content marketing? Simply, it is creating relevant, openly available content that is educational, entertaining and engaging, aimed at attracting a clearly defined audience — in short, your ideal clients.

Far too few lawyers have thus far caught on to this effective, focused approach, which presents you with the opportunity to get a leg up in the quest for business from an ever-savvier public that knows what it wants.

The Content Marketing Institute notes that consumers “have shut off the traditional world of marketing. They own a DVR to skip television advertising, often ignore magazine advertising, and now have become so adept at online surfing that they can take in information without a care for banners or buttons, making them irrelevant.”

What all that means is that there is great opportunity for lawyers who get involved now to build their authority.

You need to understand, however, that if you do all your content marketing yourself, it can take time. You have two options: Plan to do whatever you can manage to get done, or hire a writer to draft ideas at minimum.

If you are writing or finalizing content yourself, there are a few principles to keep in mind. First, keep a beginner’s mind. As a lawyer, you are an intelligent, prolific writer. That doesn’t always translate into writing that others want to read.

When talking about complex subjects, make them as simple as possible. Use simple words. For bold, clear writing, aim for a reading level of Grade 10 or less (look up and use the Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level Readability Test).

Embrace white space, starting new paragraphs after two or three sentences and using headlines and subheadings. The method is part ease-of-reading, part joy-of-reading, and part visual elements.

Eliminate the remedial explanations on basic, must-know legal elements. The general and basic conversations that you repeat with clients can be built into your online content, serving as a platform to educate them without taking up your time. Then, when you meet in person, you can dive deep into more important information.

Finally, there is the ever-imperative search engine optimization. The old ways of gaming the search engines have been replaced with a need for valuable content. As search engine algorithms evolve and become more sophisticated, content marketing becomes more relevant. By narrowing your focus to a targeted area of expertise, you can maximize your SEO on search engines such as Google and Bing when someone searches for something relevant to your services.

I leave you with one last reminder: Traditional marketing is expensive. It costs a bundle to get your name on billboards, TV, radio and displays on bus stops across the city. Yet only a minute fraction of eyes on those displays need or even care what you have to offer.

When someone goes on an online legal search, however, I can promise you they aren’t reading it for fun. They go with intent; they need help. Content marketing is your way of showing you can offer them that help.

Now that we’ve discussed the basics of content marketing, here are the next steps:

• Develop a creation, publishing and promotion schedule.

• Create an outline of who your ideal client is.

• Brainstorm some ideas for content.

• Do a test project.

And, as always, educate, entertain and engage.

David J. Bradley is the founder of Primal Digital Marketing and author of “5 Steps to Earning More Money.” He can be contacted at [email protected] This column originally appeared in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, a sister publication of The Daily Record.