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What Is Content Marketing and Why Does It Work for Lawyers?

Content marketing works. Period. How do I know this?

Because you’re reading this article. Because each month, thousands of people read the content we generate for attorneys.

Because we're not just authorities nobody knows about ... we’ve positioned ourselves as authorities in the market. The tree falls, and people hear it.

Content marketing absolutely works. But only if you understand what content marketing is, where it fits into your marketing plan, and how to do it the right way.

Many lawyers are convinced that content marketing doesn’t work. But that’s because they don’t understand what it is.

They think getting an article published in a legal journal is a great accomplishment. Great marketing.

What they’ve just done is content marketing, albeit in a very unsophisticated way.

Now imagine amplifying the visibility and impact of that article by 100 times. That’s real content marketing.

The Three P’s of Content Marketing

Think of content marketing as a three-legged stool.

You must be a Publisher.

You must be Positioned.

You must be Prolific.

Why is it a three-legged stool? Because without one of these three legs, you’ll fall on your ass.

Think about that one article in the legal journal. That sort of makes you a publisher. But it’s one article.

True experts, true authorities, publish a lot. They’re prolific. That’s how they establish their expertise.

Related: How To Become An Authority With Your Law Practice Marketing

Suppose you do publish frequently. You’re prolific. But if you’re not positioned correctly, people still won’t view you as an authority. More "blah blah blah" does not an expert make.

Suppose you’re prolific in that you post frequently on social media, and you’ve positioned yourself correctly. You're putting things out there, great.

But if you’re not a publisher of content that proves your expertise, nobody will care. Your content has little value, if any.

Most social media isn't publication. It's distribution. Being a publisher means owning your media. Just as we own our blog, and publish there (later to syndicate it elsewhere ... but we own our own media). Just as I'll also send this out to nearly ten thousand attorneys on our email list.

We own media that nobody can take from us, it's ours. We're a publisher.

Along the same lines of the three P’s, there are three questions you need to ask about your content marketing.

1. Ask: Is my content positioning me as an authority?

Here's the rub. What lawyers think is an authority usually isn’t what their readers think is an authority.

Lawyers think authority is established with a lot of citations, big words and being relatively obtuse. The opposite is true.

Real experts make the complex simple and accessible.

Just like I’m breaking down the fundamentals of content marketing in this article, you have to break down legal concepts for your readers in a way they understand.

Related: Introverted Rainmaker: Marketing for Lawyers Who Don’t Like to Leave the Office

They’re never going to be able to do the legal work themselves anyway. The person who they remember – and hire – is the person who makes these concepts understandable to them.

This is one of the biggest ways in which your marketing can fall flat. Get too technical, you lose your audience. I have an undergrad degree in computer science, and I can either use that to make things helpful (we talk about the "operating system" of your law practice), or confusing (if I ramble on about technical computer jargon like "monolithic kernels").

If I'm helpful to you, you'll read on. If I'm annoying, you'll pass. Hence, no kernels in my articles. Except the last two.

2. Ask: Am I publishing in a medium I own ... and ensuring people will access and read my content?

Don’t get me started on all the legal blogs with great content that never see the light of day.

Yes, a legal blog is great in that you own the medium. If you're publishing there (regularly), great ... now make sure you're driving people to it using social media and other distribution methods.

Content written that nobody reads is pointless.

And, make sure that not all you're doing is distribution. You need to publish and distribute.

3. Ask: Am I publishing frequently enough to convince people I’m a thought leader?

Content marketing is not a “one and done” proposition. If you want people to believe you’re an expert, you have to show it. Regularly.

You can’t just post a few articles you wrote a long time ago and call it content marketing. That’s not prolific.

If anything, you’re sending a negative signal. People will start asking themselves why you stopped publishing. And they’ll doubt that you’re really the expert you claim to be.

I see this on a lot of lawyer websites. Either the Blog Graveyard, or reprints of things they wrote years ago. Bad signal. At least remove the date from your article from 1992 because it just looks ... sad.

So: If you have the three P’s, and you can honestly answer “yes” to these three questions, your content marketing will work like crazy. If you're not sure how to get started, or don't have the time to do it, pop my team a note. We'll get you pointed in the right direction.

 

Raj Jha

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