As the clients and prospects of law firms use the web more and more for finding information and for choosing which law firm to instruct, good content becomes ever more crucial. Douglas McPherson, director and business development consultant at Size 10½ Boots, explains how you can succeed where others often fail. (4 December 2020)
1. Why do you need to write content? Because internet usage has never been higher and, with most of us still primarily working from home, Google is our first port of call. If you don’t produce a steady flow of new content these searches are less likely to find you.
2. If you’re going to catch your audience’s eye, your content needs to be engaging. Don’t simply shoehorn ‘coronavirus’ or ‘COVID-19’ into every headline, identify something you know directly affects your clients and write about that.
3. Maintain a positive outlook. There’s enough doom and gloom around, so focus on successful outcomes and successfully tackling likely threats.
4. Always add value. Every piece you write needs to give your audience something they can use. If you are in any doubt as to whether your latest idea will add value, use my ‘RSVP test’: is it Relevant, Strategic, Valuable and/or Practical?
5. Never write about black letter law. This may sound counter-intuitive, but your objective is to engage your audience, not to turn them into lawyers.
6. If you’re unsure what to write about, you could think about a recent client question. If your clients are asking that question, other prospective clients will be searching for the same answer. Moreover, as you already know the answer, it’ll be quick and easy to write.
7. Alternatively, why not pick something relevant out of the news. For example, if you’re a family lawyer and there’s recently been a childcare story line in a TV drama, use that. If it’s in the news, it’s in the public eye – which means the keywords are being used in searches.
8. Or you can also pick something out of your everyday life, a story you’ve been told by family or friends that’s vaguely relevant to your clients. These everyday angles are often very effective in capturing a reader’s attention, as it forces the question “Why is a lawyer writing about that?”.
9. Or pick something out of your last CPD update that your clients, contacts and targets need to know. Just remember to tweak it for a lay audience.
10. Lastly, just search the search engines. Google will give you a list of all of the main questions being asked about the keywords you search on. You can use these questions as your headings and your blogs to provide the answer.
11. Content doesn’t have to be ‘flat text’ format (a blog or an article). Try video, infographics, flowcharts and top tips. This keeps your content fresh and appeals to the different preferences of your readers.
12. Similarly, content doesn’t have to be written, it can also be spoken. Consider rewriting some of your best received pieces of content as conversations and recording them as podcasts.
13. If you feel you’ve exhausted your firm’s own channels (typically a website blog plus social media), volunteer to write for your professional contacts’ newsletters and websites. It is an easy way to reach a new but relevant audience.
14. Find out which publications and websites your clients read. Then contact the editor with an idea for an article on a topic you know will be of value to their readers (and/or links to your self-published content as a taster or audition piece). Don’t be shy – you have solicitor, associate or partner on your email signature, so your approach will be completely credible.
15. Persist. For example, if you do choose to pursue external editorial opportunities (and you should, it’ll position you as an expert in front of a tailor-made new audience) and don’t hear back, don’t lose heart. Many things could have stopped the editor replying, but it’s unlikely to be because they weren’t interested.
16. Build momentum. Once you have a piece published either internally or externally, don’t wait for it to work. Put it to work. Promote the links via social media, make sure it features prominently on your website, and promote it via your newsletters and other marketing materials.
17. If you want to be more proactive, you can also send it with a personal ‘saw this and thought of you’ type email to your relevant clients and contacts.