Blogs play important roles in B2B law firms’ marketing and business development efforts, but perhaps not the ones you think.
Pick an industry, any industry.
No matter which one you choose, you will find both market leaders and upstarts that have embraced content marketing and are using it to grow their bottom lines.
Most sectors of the legal industry have embraced content marketing as well, notably blogs. Direct-to-consumer law firms like personal injury firms, criminal defense firms, and family law firms use their blogs as lead generation devices.
When prospective clients search Google for answers and topics related to the legal issues they’re dealing with, they are likely to come across law firms’ blog posts in the search results. After they click over to a firm’s blog post and read it, prospective clients may contact that firm for a free consultation. Or, they might read a few firms’ blog posts about their legal issue and then seek a consultation with the firm whose content spoke most to them.
This blog-post-as-a-lead-generator phenomenon, however, does not always extend to attorneys and law firms that serve businesses. Often (but not always), business-to-business corporate law firms get new clients through referrals, networking, or responding to requests for proposals. Rarely will you hear about corporate law firms bringing in new clients based solely on digital marketing efforts.
B2B law firms’ blogs serve as credentializers and validators
But that doesn’t mean blog posts don’t play roles in corporate law firms’ marketing and business development efforts. In fact, they play just as important roles in those efforts as they do for direct-to-consumer firms.
They just play different roles—those of credentializer and validator.
Let’s say you’re a B2B attorney whom a referral source mentions to a prospective client. Or maybe you met someone through networking who could be a client or a referral source. What will that prospective client or networking contact do the first chance they have?
You know the answer because you do it too. They are going to look you up online.
They’ll review your social media feeds. They are going to look at your online bio on your law firm’s website. But most importantly, they’ll look at your blog posts, articles, and client alerts. (They’ll probably look at what your colleagues inside and out of your practice group have published, too.)
For the same reasons you do the same thing. They want to know, based on your and your law firm’s content, if you are qualified to do the things you claim to do.
They may never see your killer briefs in support of motions to dismiss. They may never see a single contract you put together. They may never see you eviscerate an opposing expert witness on cross-examination.
But they will look at whatever content you and your law firm publish. They’ll see how often you and your firm publish content. And they will skim the content most relevant to them.
And then, based heavily on that content, along with the trust they have in the person that referred them (in the case of the prospective client), or the first impression they got from you (in the case of the networking contact), they will decide whether they want to work with you or refer you to others. This is the credentializing part of the blogs equation.
The validation part comes from people who have hired you, or who want to hire you, being able to validate their decision or preference and convince themselves or others of the same. They will be relying on your or your firm’s content as proof that that decision was the right one, or that their preference is supported by something more tangible than a gut feeling.
To be sure, sometimes would-be clients of B2B law firms, even sophisticated buyers like general counsels at large corporations, might discover a B2B attorney or law firm for the first time, based on their blog, after conducting online research. Here, a blog plays a lead generation/discovery role like it does generally for direct-to-consumer law firms.
The “I’m the only one fallacy”
Now, you might be thinking, “The people who refer me prospective clients talk me up to those people to the point where they’re sold on me from the start.” Or, “I’m the only [insert practice area] attorney that most of my referral sources know so I’m not competing with other attorneys for those referrals.” Or, “When my firm completes an RFP, we provide a ton of information about our credentials and results that makes it clear we are the preeminent law firm in our field.”
You might be right on all accounts. But we are in an era of copious content. We are in an era where if a person is told something indisputable by someone they trust, they will still go online to confirm that fact. And we are in an era where people like options and can find them easily online.
In other words, even if you are the only attorney in your practice area your referral sources send prospective clients to, there’s a good chance you won’t be the only attorney those prospective clients are vetting.
Likewise, even if your firm appears on paper to be the most credentialed or successful firm in its field, it will still be judged by its content. It can lose its position on the leaderboard if other firms, whose credentials and results are in the ballpark of yours, have more frequent, informative, and compelling content.
The million dollar role blogs play in B2B law firms’ marketing and business development efforts
No matter what industries you serve or your B2B law firm serves, blogs can play a vital role in your marketing and business development efforts.
From serving as a credentializer and validator most of the time, to serving as a lead generator some of the time, the knowledge and wisdom your or your firm’s blog displays to the world can be the difference between a client engaging you and that same client engaging another attorney and firm.
At a B2B law firm, that difference can be worth millions of dollars a year per client. For that reason, there’s a darn good chance a B2B law firm’s blog program will provide it a meaningful positive return on investment.
Wayne Pollock, a former Am Law 50 senior litigation associate, is the founder of Copo Strategies, a legal services and communications firm, and the Law Firm Editorial Service, a content strategy and ghostwriting service for lawyers and their law firms. The Law Firm Editorial Service sets free the knowledge and wisdom trapped inside Big Law and boutique law firm partners by collaborating with them to strategize and ethically ghostwrite book-of-business-building marketing and business development content.
Thinking about bringing on an outside writer to help your law firm strategize and create a blog program? Click here to schedule a 30-minute Content Strategy Audit to learn if collaborating with an outside writer is the right move for you and your firm.