5 Key Elements of a Successful Law Firm Content Strategy

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To effectively market your firm and your lawyers, you need a content strategy that will guide your publishing efforts and at the same time bring discipline and focus to the way your lawyers communicate with clients and potential clients.

And to successfully implement that strategy, you need to do these five things: 

1. Write down your content plan(s) 

A written action plan drives accountability, eliminates uncertainty, and clarifies objectives and processes. It gives you something you can use to promote the efforts with firm leadership or practice heads, to lay out expectations for new writers, and to show off the program and the methodology to anyone in the firm not completely convinced that there’s value in content marketing.

...preparing a written plan forces you to clearly define your target audience...

What’s more, preparing a written plan forces you to clearly define your audience, the specific industries/sectors and people – like GCs, HR directors, business owners – for whom you are writing, while giving you a chance to obtain broad internal agreement on those targets and the opportunities they offer. 

2. Identify and track relevant benchmarks 

There are a number of data points that every firm should consider (around readership, audience growth, sharing of your content, and the like), as well as data points that are important to your firm and your lawyers.

Identify and track those that you can and should measure, and you’ll always have hard data to evaluate the effectiveness of your content program, to help you set the next set of goals and objectives, and to demonstrate the tangible value of your program to anyone in the firm who might be skeptical of the effort. 

3. Be flexible 

Flexibility can mean the difference between success and failure of a content marketing initiative, so why not build it right into your plan?

One way to do that is to impose a regular review of your objectives and your methodology, say every four to six months. That’s enough time to judge progress against long term goals and gauge the effectiveness of short term ones, and allow you to modify your approach if things aren’t going in the direction you expected.

Equally important, because you’ll need to gather and share stats and analytics ahead of these reviews, you and your colleagues – and firm leadership – will always have a good handle on actual and measureable results.

Finally, when continual process improvement becomes standard operating procedure, you and your team are better positioned over the long run to change the way you do things without calling into question the overall strategy and plan. 

4. Develop airtight publication processes before you launch

Content marketing efforts often fail because lawyers get busy, realize they can’t commit to writing a regular piece on deadline, or simply lose interest. Still others get hijacked when approvals end up taking three days longer than planned.

The best way to counter unexpected developments like this is to plan for them: build out your bench with more authors than you need, work out all of the steps in the publication process, determine who’s going to review the work and post it to the website and send out the client alerts. Establish backups for every stage of the process (maybe backups for the backups…).

Identify all the places where things could go wrong, and set up contingencies for when they do. 

5. Use an editorial calendar 

An editorial calendar is more than a mere record of the topics your firm is going to cover: it’s an advance planning tool, it’s a scheduling tool, it’s a communication tool, it’s a brainstorming tool.

An editorial calendar imposes a discipline on your content marketing initiative...

It imposes a discipline on your content marketing initiative. It keeps your strategy in focus. Most importantly, it allows you to move from what is essentially passive content marketing – where you publish whatever your lawyers write – to active content marketing, where you work with your authors to identify top-of-mind concerns for their client and potential client base, so that they can provide written insight and solutions on those very subjects. 

* * *

[Lance Godard has spent three decades within the legal profession, in-house and as a consultant, helping lawyers and practice groups grow their book of business. Connect with him on LinkedIn and follow his new work on JD Supra.]

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