Once upon a time I wrote content that sounded like everyone else’s. It was dry and factual but it lacked the human aspect and it didn’t include videos or imagery. As a result, it did okay – not great, not bad, but just okay. The information in my content was good but it just wasn’t resonating with others because it wasn’t leaving a lasting impression with others. It was forgettable.

When I started to think about my content differently and embrace various ways of content marketing that were not being used by my competitors and peers, I started to stand out in a sea of sameness. I was mostly saying the same thing, but differently. I used storytelling, short-form videos, relevant images and even injected humor into my content.

It baffles me that most people and companies still don’t do this in their content marketing efforts.

One of the most important and effective marketing strategies for law firms, lawyers and anyone in professional services is content marketing – but good content is the most important part. Content that has your clients at the center and is tailored to them.

Although content marketing takes time and effort, staying top of mind with your target audiences is a key goal to marketing and business development – and providing value-added content is an effective way in which you can do this while branding yourself as a subject-matter expert in your area of the law.

Here are 20 tips to make your content marketing efforts more successful.

Keep in mind that content marketing may take time to show real ROI, but I have seen thought leadership content lead to new business over and over, so be patient! It’s worth the time and investment.

  1. Strong headlines are key. Headline are your opportunity to capture the attention of your readers and make them want to click through to the full article (or not), so spend the time crafting a headline that is short, to the point, actionable and effective. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes – what’s in it for them? Using numbers in your headine is a great way to get people to click on the article – just like I did here with the number of ways content marketing can help you.
  2. Email marketing is still the most effective and direct way to reach your target audience. People are in their emails all day long – unlike social media. It should go without saying but make sure your email lists have clean data and the right people on them – or else all of the content you create and send via email won’t actually reach anyone.
  3. Always be helpful. This is by far the most important advice I can give you. The purpose of anything that you write should be to help someone with a challenge or problem. Overtly promoting yourself is not the goal. Always think show versus tell. In order to do this, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your client. If you really consider their perspective, challenges and goals, and you will create useful, actionable content, not noise. Let this guide your entire content strategy.
  4. Leverage your earned media whenever you can. If you have PR professionals helping  you facilitate relationships with reporters, repurpose that content on your website, social media channels and via email marketing. Don’t assume they will see it otherwise – you have to direct them to it. Promote things such as media mentions, award wins, quotes, speaking engagements, podcast and video appearances.
  5. Make sure every piece of content you post serves an overall strategy. Your communications should consistently express your core message and value proposition. It goes without saying that you should always put your clients first and find ways to be helpful to them in your content. Also always think show versus tell with everything you create.
  6. Be brief. Long-form articles are great to delve into a complex subject, but most people don’t ave time to read an in-depth article, or they lose attention after awhile. If you actually want your audience to read your content, especially now as we rely more on our mobile devices to consume content, keep each article/email/post on the short side (less than 800 words0, create compelling subject lines and get to the point within the first paragraph.
  7. Use your email, website and social media analytics to see what content is resonating with your audience (and what’s not) and use that intelligence to create more of what is working and less of what isn’t. Without analytics you are just creating content in a vacuum. Make sure to send the high-level analytics to the authors of the content, which can help inspire them on future topics and inform their content strategy.
  8. Find inspiration from your competitors, the Big Five accounting firms, leading corporations and financial services firms by following their social media accounts and subscribing to their blogs and client alert lists by practice and industry. Do what they do better and keep your colleagues informed of what they’re writing about.
  9. Use hashtags and more importantly, the right hashtags, with every social media post, especially on LinkedIn — you can find the right hashtags by typing in terms into the main search bar with the # symbol preceding it. Remember, hashtags with too many and too little followers aren’t optimal – and you should only use five hashtags per post, place the hashtags at the end of the post and skip a space between the hashtags and the post itself.
  10. Reuse and repurpose. Make your content work harder and smarter for you by repurposing and updating your content into blogs, videos, podcasts, case studies, multiple social media posts, company history/milestones, collages, lists, webinars, CLE programs, email blasts, daily digests, newsletters and more.
  11. Your good is often good enough – don’t spend forever perfecting a piece of content. Time is often of the essence to get a piece published. You can always update a piece or create a part two. Don’t let your perfectionism and/or nervousness stand in the way of your marketing efforts.
  12. Recycle your greatest hits. So many firms take the time to create great content but they only post it once to social media or send it via email just one time – this is a huge mistake. No one is following your feed closely enough to notice if you reuse your content. Change up the wording and imagery and voila – you have a new piece of content!
  13. Only focus on the social platforms where your clients and prospects are – don’t feel like you need to post content to all social media channels. You should only dedicate your time and efforts to those platforms they are using – with LinkedIn being the most important one.
  14. Add an image to your social media posts. Social media posts with images gain more views and engagement. Anyone can incorporate visuals into their social media strategy, you just need to be creative and resourceful. You can easily reuse and repurpose images that you already have, and resize them using tools right on your smartphone. In addition, there are many photo and online design tools that enable you to create images for free or at a low cost, such as Canva, my favorite tool for non-graphic designers.
  15. Pursue opportunities to have your content published in third-party trade journals, websites, journals, blogs and publications focused on your target industry. By doing this your target audience will grow to know, like and trust you as well.
  16. Utilize content syndicators like JD Supra. Many law firms (and their lawyers) invest considerable time writing great content, but are disappointed by the results. Either their thought leadership efforts don’t lead to new business, or they fail to garner media attention or the attention of clients/prospects. This isn’t necessarily because the content is poorly written. Often it is simply because not enough of the right people – your target readers – have the chance to see the work. We operate in a competitive and saturated market and simply getting someone to open your email and read your content is very difficult. So, what can you do to stand out from your peers? Bring in the special forces like JD Supra to take your content efforts to the next level. In simple terms, JD Supra helps its clients leverage thought leadership to effectively create new business, media attention and networking opportunities.
  17. Consider utilizing new media and new mediums to engage with audiences such as video and podcasts, which can capture the attention of new followers and lead to new business.
  18. Incorporate short-form video into your content efforts. Short-form video is an effective way to engage with your audiences, bring topics to life, build employees’ brands and also, you can produce more content in less time — plus, viewers are more likely to engage with a shorter video that gets straight to the point.
  19. Avoid boring, dry business content. The key to content marketing success today is engaging with your audience and being more human. Otherwise your content can sound like everyone else’s and not stand out. Lean into relatability, emotions and empathy, which you can do through storytelling. That’s the key to building real connections with your followers.
  20. Artificial intelligence (AI) can create content or supplement your existing content, allowing you to generate more material in less time. Use artificial intelligence platforms, such as Canva MagicWrite and ChatGPT to help you with content ideas and outlines – especially if you have trouble writing from scratch. Just don’t overrely on these tools – you must fact check the information it provides and also add your own insights to the content or it will likely sound generic, formulaic and not compliant with your firm policies.

Happy content creating!

Connect with Stefanie on LinkedIn and follow her latest writing on JD Supra and sign up for her email newsletter.