Marketing Your Law Firm: Planning Your Content
When it comes to drawing in new clients, few things have shown as much promise for attorneys as content marketing—a practice in which you provide helpful content for potential clients through blogging, visual content, video, social media and more. Unfortunately, many attorneys miss the point of content marketing, creating “content for the sake of content.”
Unfortunately, this lack of direction fails to deliver the traffic, leads, or clients that an attorney expects, resulting in dead blogs—blogs on a website that haven’t seen attention for years. Following our past two blogs on the benefits of using long-form content to your advantage, we now turn our attention to the importance of content planning.
Content Planning: Your Cure for “Content for Content’s Sake”
In our blog discussing long-form content, we highlighted the dangers of content for content’s sake, warning our readers as to what happens when you have zero focus, schedule, or thought process into your content marketing. One of the most important parts of content marketing is that it builds towards something bigger. Rather than discussing a seemingly random selection of topics pertaining to your field of law, writing with a plan can improve your search rankings and create user flow as a site visitor moves from reader to lead to client.
Reasons to Develop a Content Plan
Whether drafted each quarter or year, there are many reasons to plan your content and develop a publishing schedule ranging from time savings to practicality to search engine value. Below, we explore some of the top reasons content plans work.
Content planning saves you time. If you set out to write five pieces of content every month, thinking up a topic, doing research, and ultimately creating a piece of content takes time. Planning in advance eliminates the brainstorming for each piece of content.
A content plan also allows you to prevent yourself from forgetting a topic in the event you have inspiration. If something comes to mind, you can simply add it to the long term schedule or even think up other key topics surrounding it.
A well-documented content plan will give you more control of the conversation over the course of weeks, months, or years. As discussed in our blog on the importance of whitepapers and eBooks, the average whitepaper can offer you five to ten ‘easy’ topics—all of which lead to a bigger goal.
Tie this to the seasonality of client needs—a personal injury attorney wouldn’t write about liability for slipping on ice in the middle of June, but drafting a series of articles on the topic between November and March will offer a variety of opportunities to draft the article that closes the client.
A well-drafted content plan works around the needs of your potential clients. Using Google Analytics, you can discover your most popular pages, planning content that drives even more traffic to these pages. If you are following our advice on writing effective practice areas pages, your website analysis will tell you exactly what your clients want from you.
In the coming months we will discuss the practice of developing “buyer personas.” These personas represent your current or ideal clients, and will inform your ability to personalize content for their unique needs. Think of your content plan as a series of letters to this client, answering their needs with a little more detail each time.
Think about the next six months. How many people will need your services? How many people will search for the topics you will write about? A content plan will allow you to exploit a specific theme (or set of themes) over this time. Each article you write will explore a piece of the puzzle, link to others fitting the theme, and drive people further down a “funnel.”
Even if you specialize in a field of law with a short decision cycle, exploiting a theme works. For example, nearly every criminal lawyer will have “what to do if arrested for [crime] in [state],” but not every firm will have a dozen or so articles exploring each of the common things that happen around the time of the arrest. Planning your topics over the course of a few months or a year will help you build authority on a topic while offering you the benefit of recency and consistency.
How to Develop a Content Plan
From brainstorming to setting deadlines, the process of building a content plan is often the hardest part of a content marketing strategy—especially for attorneys who are exceptionally well versed in their field and could talk for hours about minutiae that may only affect a potential client once in his or her life.
Set Goals and Develop a Timeline
Before delving into a content plan, ask yourself the following:
- What do you hope to achieve from content marketing?
- What will it take for you to justify the time you’re committing to content?
- How do you intend to get there?
With these questions in mind, you can begin to develop content goals and setting a schedule. Experts recommend you plan for at least three months and reevaluate whether this was successful.
Start with Your Research
It’s not always about attracting more people to your site, it’s about attracting the right people to your site. In addition, no one knows your potential clients better than you do, and a content plan is designed to attract more of these people to your site, get them to download a resource or click the contact button, and ultimately speak with you about your services.
When developing a plan, there are two key places to start—keyword research and persona development. Keyword research allows you to find out what people are searching for, persona development lets you get a picture of the kind of person who’s searching. For more information on keyword research and targeting, we recommend the Moz Guide to Content Planning.
Determine Creation and Distribution Channels
A key part of content planning is the determination of channels and media. For example, while everything may revolve around your blog, the use of video, infographics, or podcasts require their own infrastructure and work. If you expect to create an infographic, set a target date and get in contact with someone who can make one that is visually appealing. If you plan on releasing a monthly video, study video editing software and buy a camera. For more information, the Content Marketing Matrix by SmartInsights explores each type of content you may consider and its role in your content marketing strategy.
Draft Content Themes
Similar to writing a whitepaper or other piece of long-form content, planning your content around a range of themes can help you to stay on task while planning and writing. As discussed in this blog, an employment lawyer could write a dozen blogs on employee handbooks, all answering a specific question that a client may have but all focused on the same topic and user.
Create a Schedule
While you may feel it beneficial to write all blogs on a topic at once, it’s likely you find more value spreading out this content over the course of 3, 6, 9, or 12 months and tailor it to the unique time of year you may release it. For example, a criminal lawyer may have a theme pertaining to DUI/DWI, planning a blog on “driving high” in April or “what to do at a roadblock” to be released before Memorial Day or the Fourth of July.
There are many tools to do this; free or paid project management tools give you the ability to set deadlines and compile all necessary tasks associated with creating content, while the schedule could just as easily be put into an Excel Spreadsheet.
Create Content, Generate Leads, Close Business
With a content plan built, you have given yourself a process, a series of tasks, and a mission. Now, you can set out to create the content that informs, inspires, educates, and convinces potential clients to work with you. Looking for another way to find clients?
At Legal Services Link, we know that marketing your growing firm is a challenge—one that requires you to only choose effective tools that help you generate leads and gain clients. Legal Services Link allows you to create your profile in its directory and to connect directly with clients efficient and inexpensively. Learn more at LegalServicesLink.com.
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