If you think your content is only competing with your competitors’ content for your clients’ and referral sources’ attention, you don’t understand the game.
Lawyers and law firms often forget that their content, including their thought leadership content, isn’t just competing with content from other law firms for the attention of clients and referral sources.
It’s competing with the content created by any and every entity out there, on any and every platform out there.
It’s competing with every product on Amazon.
It’s competing with every post on Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook, including those created by friends, influencers, and other professional content creators.
It’s competing with every article published on the websites of The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and every other local, regional, and national media outlet.
It’s competing with every show and movie on every streaming service, and on every channel on every cable system or satellite TV provider.
Making things even more challenging is the fact that behind all of these pieces of content are people whose job it is to conceive of, produce, and/or publish high-quality content.
Lawyers and law firms have to understand their content is going toe-to-toe with all of these heavyweights. They need to give their content a chance to compete at that level.
They can’t just think, “We’re a law firm. Our clients and referral sources will know our content is law firm content so they’ll hold us to a lower standard.”
That’s because clients and referral sources have so many options when it comes to content that lawyers and law firms have to give them a reason to consume their content. Otherwise, their attention will go elsewhere and they’ll ignore law firms’ content.
With this in mind, here are some considerations lawyers and law firms should be taking into account to make sure their content competes at the highest level against all of the various kinds of content their clients and referral sources will encounter.
Substance and subject matter
Given the kind of content your clients and referral sources are consuming, should your content primarily focus on purely legal analysis? Or, should you consider going a bit wider and focusing on developments within your clients’ industries that might make for more interesting reading/viewing/listening?
If you know your legal content might be a bit dry compared to other content that your clients and/or referral sources are consuming, should you tinker with the substance to make it more appealing?
Style and tone
On a related note, how about the style and the tone of your content? Knowing that your clients and referral sources are going to be consuming other, less professional forms of content, do you want to make your style and tone a bit less formal and a bit more approachable?
While your instinct might be not to, you should be thinking about how your professional style and tone might compare to the style and tone that your clients and referral sources are consuming elsewhere. Could your firm’s typical professional tone dissuade them from consuming your content because they prefer engaging with more casual, less intellectually taxing content elsewhere?
Form and medium
Just because your firm has primarily relied on the written word for its content marketing and thought leadership marketing efforts doesn’t mean it needs to continue on that same path.
Must your content always be in written form? Do you think your clients have the appetite for a 2000-word client alert multiple times a month?
What about using video as a way to disseminate your and your colleagues’ thought leadership? What about podcasts?
If your clients and referral sources are consuming media in those forms from different content creators and media outlets, maybe you and your colleagues should be thinking about whether to adopt non-written media as a way to compete with the heavyweights.
Given how often your clients’ and referral sources’ favorite content creators and media outlets are pumping out fresh content, should you and your law firm change the frequency with which you publish your content?
I’m not suggesting your firm can keep up with creators who are publishing polished content multiple times a day or week. But if your firm can publish a blog or client alert on a weekly basis instead of a whenever-we-have-something-to-say basis, perhaps it should strive to do so.
If your clients and referral sources are used to seeing well-lit videos with great sound quality, or are used to consuming well-produced podcasts, are they going to want to watch a live webinar or a replay of it where your colleague looks like they’re in a cave—and they sound like it, too?
Are they going to want to listen to one of your firm’s podcast episodes where the host and guest sound like they’re using the two worst speakerphones ever manufactured?
The irony is that today, there are many ways to create high-quality, high-production-value videos and podcasts without breaking the bank. Equipment and software are getting better and better, and cheaper and cheaper. A law firm can produce high-quality videos and podcasts at a fraction of the cost (in terms of both time and money) they would have had to incur just a few years ago.
If you’re going to step into the ring, it’s best to have a fighting chance
By thinking strategically and critically about the substance and subject matter, style and tone, form and medium, frequency, and production quality of your firm’s content compared to the content that’s out there, you’re on your way to creating compelling thought leadership content that has a chance of rising above much of the content that both law firms and non-law firms are producing.
When you don’t simply compare your firm’s thought leadership content to the content being produced by other law firms, and instead compare it to ALL of the content being created today, you’ll naturally aim for a higher caliber of competition.
Remember, keeping the substance and subject matter, style and tone, form and medium, frequency, and production quality of your firm’s content at a high-enough level to compete with the heavyweights will force you and your firm to produce better content than your peers and your competitors.
When you do, you’ll make the kind of impression on your current, prospective, and past clients and referral sources that could get them to become regular consumers of your and your firm’s content.
When they become regular consumers, they’ll eventually feel like they know, like, and trust you and your colleagues so much that they will be willing to give you and your colleagues the opportunity to help them with the legal and business issues they might otherwise have gone to your competitors for—but for the fact that your content stood toe-to-toe with heavyweights.
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.