The four ways thought leadership can grease your business development skids

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A consistent, calibrated thought leadership program could do the heavy lifting for your business development efforts, getting you 90% of the way there in terms of showing a prospective client you and your firm are the right choice for them.


When it comes to legal marketing and business development, there are few tactics as effective as a consistent content marketing or thought leadership marketing program. There’s a number of reasons why such a program can be so effective, and I could spend hours talking about a program’s various benefits.

But to me, the biggest benefit a consistent thought leadership or content marketing program brings to a law firm, practice group, or lawyers in that firm or practice group, is that it can help grease their business development skids.

A steady stream of content that’s relevant, valuable, and compelling can get a prospective client 90% of the way there in terms of concluding that a particular law firm, practice group, or lawyer is qualified to assist them with their legal needs.

At that point, all the firm, practice group, or lawyer has to do is get over that finish line. They have to go that last 10% and show the prospective client that they are the right choice for them personality-wise and given their particular legal need. They don’t have to prove their qualifications because the content has already done that for them.

Here are four ways content marketing and thought leadership marketing can grease the business development skids.

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A consistent thought leadership content program builds authority

First, obviously, relevant, valuable, and compelling content that consistently shows off a law firm’s, practice group’s, or lawyer’s knowledge and wisdom regarding a particular area of the law or a particular industry, goes a long way in showing a would-be client that the firm, practice group or lawyer has the goods.

This content is working 24/7/365, whether in the form of blog posts, client alerts, videos, or podcast episodes, to show the prospective client that the firm, practice group, or lawyer is qualified to assist them. Additionally, the kind of content being produced can give an indication of the creators’ qualifications.

Content that contains in-depth analysis will do a better job showing off qualifications than content that covers legal developments in a “breaking news” fashion. Additionally, creating content regarding developments in target clients’ industries can reassure prospective clients that a law firm, practice group, or lawyer is aware of the business context surrounding their legal issues—and the firm, group, or lawyer will take that context into account when advising them—without them having to say so themselves.

A consistent thought leadership content program builds trust

If a law firm, practice group, or lawyer consistently creates content, that consistency shows they have mastery of the topic because they wouldn’t be able to talk so much about the topics they cover if they weren’t knowledgeable about them. But that consistency also breeds trust.

If a prospective client sees that a firm, practice group, or a lawyer has consistently published content for years, especially flagship content like monthly, quarterly, or annual reviews, they’ll view the creators as trustworthy and disciplined.

That is helpful because it conveys the people publishing the thought leadership will be trustworthy and disciplined when representing clients. Prospective clients will assume they won’t let them down because they’ve shown up consistently with their thought leadership marketing and business development content.

Thought leadership can show prospective clients that lawyers see the world the way they do

In thought leadership content, you’ll often see lawyers sprinkle in subjective comments when providing analysis. When those comments show that the lawyers see the world from their clients’ perspectives, prospective clients are further persuaded that those lawyers are the right choice for them without the lawyers having to hint at it.

For example, a white-collar criminal defense attorney may frequently bang the drum in their thought leadership content about overzealous prosecutors bringing charges they can’t get a conviction for in court, but doing so anyway for political and public relations reasons.

When a prospective client is on the receiving end of such charges, they’ll think to themselves upon reading that content, “This person knows what I’m talking about. They know what I’m feeling. They’ve seen it before. I bet they could help me.”

Likewise, let’s say a regulatory attorney frequently makes comments about how the regulator they most frequently deal with is always one step behind the industry and needs to bring its regulations and policy decisions into the modern day. The reason being, according to the attorney, is that the regulator is stifling innovation with its dated views of the world and the industry.

If a prospective client feels the same way, seeing this content shows them the attorney is both qualified to assist them and shares similar world views, which means they’re more likely to agree on the best way to approach the legal issue(s) the prospect is facing.

Thought leadership can build personal rapport

Subjective comments lawyers make in their thought leadership content can also build personal rapport with prospective clients when those comments concern shared hobbies and outside interests.

Let’s say a lawyer references classic cars in a blog post regarding a recent appellate case that came down. In fact, that lawyer mentions that a particular model year of the Ford Mustang was by far the worst Mustang ever made. Imagine the rapport built when a prospective client reads that post and says, when they chat for the first time, “By the way, you’re dead wrong about the 1968 Mustang. The ‘71 model was a bigger heap of junk.”

Subjective comments referencing topics as broad as parenting, pop culture, and food could be opportunities for prospective clients to get to know an attorney through their content and to start building rapport so when they finally speak, there’s a sense that the prospective client already knows the attorney and feels a connection to them that makes it easy to move forward with retaining the attorney without the attorney having to do much, if any, “selling.”

Break out the thought leadership, break out the grease

It is no easy feat to establish and execute on a strategic thought leadership marketing program. Consistently creating relevant, valuable, and compelling content is tough for lawyers and law firms considering everything else they have going on.

But law firms and lawyers need any above-board unfair advantage they can get in the game of marketing and business development—a game that is increasingly difficult given how competitive all segments of the legal industry are these days.

A strategic thought leadership marketing program that is consistently putting out relevant, valuable, and compelling content that is calibrated to the interests and the needs of its target audiences is an unfair advantage. That’s because it can grease the business development skids, making it easier for a law firm, practice group, or lawyer to be hired by prospective clients by creating connections that wouldn’t have existed without the content.

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