If you are an IP lawyer who realises the need to produce high-quality information in order to attract new clients, how often have you looked at content provided by other law firms and noticed that a lot of it is filled with complex legal terms or commentary sources of business law on recent judgements. If you want to develop effective web marketing strategies, the question you might ask is “how is this supposed to help me attract new clients if my prospects find it hard to understand what is written in the first place?”
To answer this, we have to consider the three main audiences that IP lawyers need to think about when producing content:
Other lawyers that might refer business their way if they don’t have specific IP legal services expertise;
General counsels or in-house company lawyers who influence the selection of external IP legal services providers;
Prospects within specific niches that are actively seeking answers to questions they have or looking to find out how to solve specific problems. The information that each audience needs is slightly different, and no website, blog or article should assume that all have the same level of knowledge regarding key IP legal issues.
Lawyers do not want their reputation tarnished by referring IP legal services work to someone that can not deliver. They want reassurance that IP lawyers they pass business to have a thorough understanding of the latest judgements or legal precedents, and may be more comfortable reading more complex material.
GCs and in-house counsels are, amongst other things, under pressure to deliver efficient legal services to their organisations with reduced budgets. They want IP lawyers to understand the markets they operate in and how they fit into that, and are looking for creative solutions, industry experience and quick responses.
Company owners or business managers within target niches may simply want to get steps that show them how to solve problems or be told of the benefits they get if they take certain actions to protect what they have created. They are more interested in minimising pain, especially given the current economic climate, and are less interested in getting details about the law form itself to start off with.
There has been a great discussion on LinkedIn about 2011 being the year content marketing becomes king. What is clear from all the comments made is that many lawyers acknowledge the need to use content marketing as one of many tactics to attract new clients.
Here are a few steps IP lawyers should take to make sure the content they produce is effective in getting more business through the door:
First of all, identify who your primary targets are based on the strategy you have to attract more clients. If your entire business growth is based on referrals from other lawyers, then commenting on recent judgements and explaining how you can help clients solve their IP legal services problems may work. If you are targeting GCs and in-house lawyers, you have to make more effort to demonstrate your knowledge of the industries they are in and give guidance in the content you provide on practical steps they need to take to achieve their business objectives. Business owners have similar issues as in-house lawyers, but often do not have the same legal backgrounds. They, therefore, need content that highlights the benefits of taking certain actions in clear and simple language.
Make sure you only produce content that people need to read. If you don’t have a feedback system in place to find out what is going on in your clients’ or targets’ minds, or a strategy to find out what search terms are being used to look for specific types of information, then the content you produce might be irrelevant.
If necessary, separate the content according to the various targets and plan multi-step campaigns pointing readers to the information available. This is where split testing needs to take place. You may want to see how SEO strategies for content targeted at business owners compare to that produced for lawyers from other firms, especially if the latter rely on trade journals and is a misdemeanor a criminal offense networking events to build their networks. Old school methods of building relationships may be more effective for this group, but are probably less so when going after business owners and company directors who use the Internet to search for information and lawyers. Whatever you do, you have to test various strategies to see what works for the audience you are targeting.
You need to think about content publicity, and market the content you have effectively to each audience. Simply putting links on to your website to content you produce is not enough. You are fighting for mindshare, and need to let potential readers know the benefits that result from consuming the information you make available.
You also have to make the content easily accessible, and have a platform developed to share it, e.g. blog, forum, webinars etc. If you have a well-mapped client attraction strategy in place for a target audience, then you have the option to get people to enter personal information before they can access any content. This gives you the chance to alert those that sign up to information updates, but also gives you specific targets that you can try and build relationships with. With more people embracing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, the quality of content produced is extremely important but it also has to be relevant to the interactions people have on a daily basis. Web marketing strategies will only be successful if the mixture of audience-specific content, excellent content marketing and multi-step contact management is managed properly.
So, before you rush off and start thinking about content, make sure you know as much as you can about the audience you are targeting and the questions people within it are asking themselves.