When lawyers collaborate with an outside writer to help them craft and publish thought-leadership marketing content, they are making a small investment for which they could realize significant ROIs
I frequently speak with lawyers and law firm marketing or business development professionals regarding their firms’ investment in their content marketing and thought-leadership marketing programs.
These conversations frequently touch on those lawyers’ and law firms’ experience and interest in collaborating with an outside writer (also known as a “ghostwriter”) to help those lawyers craft and publish thought-leadership marketing content like blog posts, bylined articles, client alerts, and the like.
Very often, when I have these conversations, the “B” word is mentioned.
You know, “budget.”
Inevitably, a lawyer or law firm marketing/business development professional will tell me that they’re not quite sure if they have the budget — whether at a firm level, a practice group level, or a personal level — to spend on collaborating with an outside writer. Instead, they will explain to me that they could just save that money by writing that content themselves or having their lawyers write it themselves.
At this point, I often remind the lawyer or the marketing/business development professional that allocating funds toward their content marketing and thought-leadership marketing efforts, including collaborating with an outside writer, like all other forms of marketing, is an investment.
Those lawyers and their firms are spending money up front on a form of marketing in the hopes that by spending that money now they will bring in new client matters soon, and that new business will more than pay for the cost of the marketing efforts required to bring in those new matters.
When it comes to collaborating with an outside writer, there are (at least) three ways lawyers can realize a return on their investment—one of which is guaranteed.
Return on Investment in an Outside Writer #1 — Write Less, Bill More
The first way lawyers can realize an ROI when collaborating with an outside writer, which also happens to be a guaranteed ROI, is that lawyers free themselves up to be able to work on billable client matters.
A lawyer who bills $400, $500, or $600 an hour but pays an outside writer $150, $200, or even $250 an hour, is going to realize a return on their investment—likely of at least 2x. By taking the reins on a piece of marketing content, an outside writer frees that lawyer up to service their clients and bill that time.
Of course, if the lawyer was forced to write that piece of content themself without assistance from an outside writer, that lawyer would be unable to bill their time to a client.
This first ROI is an instant, direct, and guaranteed ROI for lawyers and their law firms.
Return on Investment in an Outside Writer #2—Content Leads to a New Matter
The second way lawyers can realize an ROI when collaborating with an outside writer is when a piece of marketing content crafted by that writer directly leads to a new client matter.
Perhaps that piece of content is a bylined article in an industry trade publication. Maybe it is a blog post a lawyer or their firm shared on LinkedIn or Twitter. Maybe it is a client alert. Or maybe it is a free guide or checklist.
Whatever it is, it so thoroughly—and credibly—addressed a legal issue that a past, current, or prospective client is currently facing or expects to face that they felt compelled to reach out to the lawyer and eventually engage them.
Given the fact that it is unlikely, without the assistance of the outside writer, that that particular piece of marketing content would have been written and published when it was (after all, that’s why the writer was hired), there is a direct connection between what a lawyer or law firm paid the writer and the fees the lawyer and law firm could expect from this new client matter.
In this instance, it is almost a certainty that the lawyer’s or law firm’s investment in a piece of marketing content crafted by an outside writer will be dwarfed by the fees from the client matter that piece generated.
Return on Investment in an Outside Writer #3 — the Cumulative Effect of Content
The third (and final, at least for the purposes of this blog post) way lawyers can realize an ROI when collaborating with an outside writer is what I refer to as the cumulative effect of content.
When a lawyer collaborates with an outside writer over a long period of time, that lawyer will amass a body of work that is going to be more expansive than what that lawyer could have created on their own based on the competing demands on their time they face each day.
That body of work as a whole is a signal to past, current, and future clients and referral sources that the lawyer has deep knowledge and mastery of the legal issues that arise within their practice area(s). After all, the lawyer wouldn’t have so much to say about those issues (in the form of thought-leadership marketing content) if they didn’t. That body of work creates a perception of thought leadership and mastery.
That perception could very well compel clients and referral sources to contact the lawyer about assisting them with their legal issues. In these instances, that body of work led directly to new client matters.
But that body of work, composed of blog posts, client alerts, bylined articles, and ebooks (along with perhaps videos, podcast episodes the lawyer has appeared on, and other indicia of their deep legal knowledge), also signals to other key audiences that the lawyer is someone they should be talking to about their area of expertise. Those key audiences’ might have platforms that lead to new client matters.
Perhaps a representative from a trade organization comes across a lawyer’s body of work and thinks the lawyer would make an excellent speaker at an upcoming seminar.
And that speaking engagement then leads to a new client matter.
Perhaps a reporter from an industry trade publication or national business publication comes across the lawyer’s body of work and decides to interview that lawyer and include quotes from the lawyer in an article they are working on.
That published article then leads to a new client matter.
In these examples, a particular piece of content did not directly lead to new client matters. But the cumulative effect of that content, the perceptions created by that content, opened up doors for a lawyer that eventually led to new client matters.
Investing in the future of your legal practice and law firm
Content marketing and thought-leadership marketing, like all forms of marketing, are investments. They are not sunk costs.
It is possible, if not probable, that you will realize a return on your investment in a content marketing or thought-leadership marketing program when you collaborate with an outside writer. I’ve identified three ways you might realize such a return.
Remember, when you are contemplating investing in your content marketing and thought-leadership marketing programs, particularly when collaborating with an outside writer, you’re making an investment in the future of your legal practice and your law firm.
Thinking about bringing on an outside writer to help your law firm strategize and create compelling thought-leadership marketing and business development content? 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.