In the 2017 State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey, put out by Greentarget and the Zeughauser Group, we find in-house counsel sharing their concerns about information overload, as well as most marketing teams announcing plans to increase their content output in the coming year.
While you may not notice anything earth-shattering here, what you will notice beneath the surface, time and again in this study (and others like it), is a key theme that resonates from the data and throughout the executive summary: we must continue to strive to get to know our clients better.
In the late 80’s there was a sketch on Saturday Night Live in which Jon Lovitz repeated the refrain “Get to Know Me!” He would bring out various celebrities (or actors impersonating celebrities) and have them give a personal testimony on how getting to know Jon led to personal success and making them into a “somebody.”
How can a Jon Lovitz skit help law firm marketers?
Any good content strategy should be built on the premise that knowledge of our clients is foundational to building sustainable brand loyalty and a long-term relationship that benefits both firm and client. We need to do the hard work of getting to know them!
...today, there is no excuse for not committing to knowing your clients better.
And as marketers, our job is to facilitate this for our lawyers. Today, with CRM and marketing automation technology giving us the ability to track and manage every detail of every relationship we have with clients and prospects, there is no excuse for not committing to knowing your clients better.
Any firm that continues channeling time, money and energy into creating and distributing content without taking these other critical steps is just going to contribute to the sea of noise instead of rising above it.
We should be in continuous relationship with as many clients as possible, both formally (whether through an in-house client intelligence program or with an outside firm that can gauge client experience through surveys and regular conversations) and informally (meals, events, shared interests, etc.).
When we know our clients, and any partner in the firm can access this client intelligence, we can then move forward with a content strategy that will truly have an impact. This strategy can then follow some of the valuable guidance provided in the GreenTarget study, some of which I’ve summarized below:
Step back and consider what content has the most value to clients and other key audiences. Try creating content in partnership with clients, or including questions in client surveys that ask about desired content topics.
80-20 rule – allocate greatest energy, resources, creativity to the top 20% most strategic areas for the firm. These will be the greatest areas of time and budget, and this should be confirmed with firm leadership.
50% of in-house counsel use Linkedin to consume information, while only 7% use it to share information. They are looking primarily for experience and relevant client matters, so lawyers should be trained in articulating their experience and sharing relevant information and commentary via Linkedin.
Create a documented content strategy that reflects the firm’s business goals and focuses on benefits to your audience.
Tilt your content based on client data to tell a unique story and stand out.
Start to think about distribution before you start drafting content – this will help you position content for a targeted audience.
Personalize your content when appropriate and only if you can do it authentically.
Put work into the headline or subject line – the reader’s split second decision to engage or delete is mostly based on this.
Evaluate and experiment – look at data every 3 to 6 months and make sure your content is properly aligned with what clients are telling you they want.
As you build your content strategy, picture your client walking through the halls of your firm, sounding like Jon Lovitz as they shout “GET TO KNOW ME!” - and make sure that whatever resources you’re dedicating to content generation in the coming years, you’re also dedicated a comparable amount to communicating with your clients: learning about their business, their goals, challenges, and what makes them tick professionally and personally.
And of course, have a documented system for aggregating and reporting this data internally, making sure it is digestible and actionable by all internal stakeholders.
[Erik Crown has been in marketing, communications and business development for 19 years; including running the marketing department for the world’s largest legal search firm (Major, Lindsey & Africa) for six years, and recently leading the content, digital, and brand team at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. He is currently managing content and digital marketing for Maxim Healthcare Services, one of the largest healthcare services companies in the United States. In his spare time Erik provides freelance writing and consulting to clients in various industries]