My granny always told me, “No one will want to buy the ice cream truck if you’re giving out popsicles for free.” Ok, so she probably wasn’t referring to marketing strategy, but even so, the concept is out of date. As the sample lady at Costco has deliciously proven to us all, today’s customers expect to test the product before making the decision to buy.
Content marketing is a strategy by which businesses provide value to prospective customers for free, turning the old notion that “free = no value” squarely on its head. Sharing content allows companies to demonstrate their value, which builds credibility and customer loyalty.
While paid advertising is still an effective marketing vehicle, it’s expensive and requires the specialized knowledge of marketing professionals. As a relatively low-cost method with potentially big reach, content marketing is becoming the method of choice among businesses large and small.
Regular, valuable content educates and engages the customer, encouraging them to buy into your brand. In the age of social media, it lends itself to online endorsements as people share your content across their networks.
Here are 10 easy ways to get started:
1. Write a solid bio
Before you officially get started, ensure you have a solid, professional bio. A lawyer’s bio is her most powerful marketing tool, yet often it is written in a standardized, bare bones format. Considering that most people turn to the Internet when searching for a lawyer, a strong bio is your best chance to stand out.
A bio should not be a showcase of past wins and fancy degrees; it is an opportunity to show a potential client what you can do for them.
- Trust – Show them who you are and where you come from.
- Advocacy –Share what motivates you; let them see what how passionate an advocate you are.
- Value – Demonstrate your value by defining who you serve and how you help your clients solve problems.
- Credibility – Now is the time to list your education, experience, accolades and awards, publications and OBA membership.
2. Get a professional headshot
With more and more clients conducting their business online, the personal impact of a headshot is vital to gaining trust and building a personal brand. Good content won’t do you any good if the reader doesn’t know it’s yours.
Your online reputation is as important as your in-person one, so make sure you’re suited and booted, representing yourself just as you would in an office environment.
3. Build a website
Building and maintaining a website can be expensive, however, without a home base it’s impossible to build a substantial online presence.
The good news is there are many economical options. Publishing tools such as Wordpress, LinkedIn, Wix and Tumblr provide easy templates and even some search engine optimization and traffic metrics.*
If you’re part of a large firm, speak to your marketing department about how you can build up the content on your bio page and contribute to other areas of the site.
4. Publish articles
Whether it’s an academic paper or a listicle, an article is the best way to share your expertise with the world. Maintain a blog, write for other blogs, or submit content to local newspapers, magazines, newsletters and journals. Upload an article to one of the OBA’s 39 practice-specific newsletters, then link to it on your site or firm page, or promote it via social media.
5. Publish a book
Ok, so this isn’t an easy step, but Omar Ha-Redeye’s Publishing Your First Legal Textmakes it easier. And who doesn’t love an invitation to a fancy book launch?
6. Develop tips and checklists
Provide useful, succinct information to potential clients with tip sheets, tool kits and other practical information to supplement your core services. Are you an estates lawyer? Direct clients to the OBA’s Make a Will toolkit. Pensions and Benefits? Explain the basics with a video on pension division on marriage breakdown. How about an easy-to-read infographic that breaks down complicated legalese and process.
7. Social media
Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Lime, Weebo, SnapChat… Social media runs the gamut from professional networking to Justin Bieber fandom (yes, there’s an entire platform devoted to selfies by the Beebs), and the decision to plunge into the world of social media can be overwhelming. Luckily, the OBA has resources such as Jump on the Brand-Wagon: Leverage Social Media to Be a Thought Leader and Business Generator, or for the more trepidatious, Maximizing Social Media Marketing While Minimizing Risk, to help you get started.
Your clients don’t care about your marketing goals; they care about value. Prove you can give them what they want before they even come to the table, and you will be miles ahead of the competition.
*Remember to carefully review all web and data hosting agreements to ensure compliance with the LSUC Rules of Professional Conduct.