Here is what people are tired of: interruptions. When you turn on the TV on, you sit through commercials. When you visit your favorite news website, you’re cut off by an interstitial ad. And when you want to “Gangnam Style” one last time, you have to sit through a 30-second ad.
Every firm needs to attract new clients, but traditional advertising’s glory days are long gone thanks to the Internet. In traditional advertising, marketers tell consumers what to buy and when to buy it. These days, consumers have the power – they buy what they want, when they want, which is why forward-thinking firms are moving away from the model of traditional interruptive advertising and moving toward content marketing.
Interruptive marketing refers to those ads that quite literally interrupt you. Some examples include commercials, pop-up ads and even print ads. These often unwanted messages get in the way of the information consumers really want.
Smart attorneys are choosing to engage their potential clients with quality, insightful, interesting, relevant and intelligent content. Rather than getting in the way of the content their potential clients want, they provide it. Here’s the difference: instead of luring an audience with good content (i.e. a television show, created and funded by a network against ads), then blasting anyone who is paying attention with commercials (a watered down pitch that appeals to almost no one watching), smart businesses are loading their websites with content designed to inform their ideal clients and leveraging search engine marketing and social media to draw-in the right crowd. When the right people come looking, these savvy lawyers will be found.
Old-School versus New-School
The formula is simple. You offer readers something free and valuable, it attracts the clients you want AND you can use it over and over again, on and offline. Great content costs nothing compared to a TV ad or radio spot and is a great long-term investment for your business. According to HubSpot’s 2012 report on inbounding marketing practices and trends, 92 percent of businesses that blog at least once per day have acquired a customer as direct result of their website. Moreover, a recent study by Kapost proves that the cost-per-lead decreases significantly over time for content marketers. In just 5 months, the average cost per lead drops by 80 percent. But if content marketing is so effective, why do so many law firms still invest thousands, or even millions, of dollars in expensive commercials and billboards?
Perhaps it’s because interruptive marketing is all they know. Or it could be that they’re holding on to that fateful day when a client saw them in a commercial while watching “Golden Girls” and hired them. Whatever the rationale, it’s time to recognize that lawyers may be leaving clients at the table, wasting their money and ignoring — or not putting enough effort into — today’s most valuable lead sources. Not convinced? Think about this: according to Brian Halligan, CEO and founder of HubSpot, “[the] average human today is inundated with over 2000 outbound marketing interruptions per day and is figuring out more and more creative ways to block them out, including caller ID, spam filtering, TiVo, and Sirius satellite radio.” The reality is most people already use the Internet to find everything from restaurants to electricians and the next generation will barely know any other way.
Taking advice from someone who gets it…
Marketing expert Seth Godin refers to content as permission marketing. Godin is a pioneer in the field and his blog is a must-read for anyone interested in growing their business. He does an excellent job summing up how and why content works:
Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated,personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.
It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.
Read more on his blog.
This is how consumers want to be treated and this approach will yield stronger results at a better price than traditional advertising ever could.
Where to Get Started
One thing to remember about content marketing is that results don’t come overnight. If you are starting at square one, begin by posting regular content to your blog that informs and brings value to your readers. Don’t know the messages your readers want to get or which ones will hold their attention? Not to worry. There are ways to find out, though, most of them are not quick or easy. However, when you take time to understand your target audience and the segments that exist within it, you’re sure to unearth a treasure trove of content ideas that will hit the mark with the perfect client every time.
This process typically starts with a close self-examination… who are you as a company, why do you exist (hint: it’s not because people want legal services), what is the one thing you’re best at, and who does your product or service appeal to? What are its benefits?
Then, it’s recommended you move on to spending a day with your client. Literally, if you’re able and willing to. If a “day in the life of your customer” is not an option, why not conduct surveys with your current and past clients? Surveys are an excellent way to learn what your customers think about you and your services. Or how about social listening? You’d be surprised by the mounds of information you can glean from online sources like Facebook, Twitter and industry-specific forums or groups. What topics and issues do your ideal clients care about? What are they saying about your firm or about your industry as a whole?
Armed with this information, you can begin crafting your marketing messages around what your consumers want and how they wish to engage with your firm. That could be via articles, eBooks, or targeting local readers and becoming active (retweeting, sharing and commenting on like-minded and relevant posts) on social networking websites.
Content marketing is a business process and should be managed as such. It also involves a meaningful investment of both your time and capital. The former can be offset by hiring a managing editor or outsourcing your content needs to a professional who can develop and manage the strategy for you. At We Do Web Content, content marketing is our sweet spot. So don’t hesitate to contact us today with any questions you may have about the future of marketing and advertising. We’re happy to help!