Content Marketing: 7 Best Practices (Part 1)
Content marketing is hot. According to the 2014 State of Digital and Content Marketing Survey, 80% of law firm CMOs believe content marketing is an important marketing and business development strategy and 84% expect to increase the amount of content they are producing over the prior year. With so much emphasis on content marketing, what can firms do to help make their initiatives as successful as possible?
1. Document Your Content Marketing Strategy (Strategies)
A documented strategy provides the necessary framework for your content marketing. It spells out to all the stakeholders your message, target audiences, and business goals. You also need a strategy before you can develop a plan. Your strategy guides you in determining how and what content you should produce and promote. It keeps you focused on what you want to achieve and helps you design a plan for how to get there. But those aren’t the only benefits.
In the 2015 Content Marketing Institute study on B2B Content Marketing, marketers with written strategies said they were more effective and better at tracking ROI than those without written strategies. And tracking ROI is the key to getting and maintaining support for your marketing investments. While you’re writing down your strategy, remember you should really have multiple strategies for each practice area, industry group or other audience segment you are going after.
2. Create Buyer Personas
One of the keys to successful content marketing is understanding your target audience or buyer. The best way to do that is to develop a profile of that ideal buyer or client, including their key demographics and behaviors, such as:
- Job title and responsibilities.
- Role in the decision-making process.
- Company size and revenue.
- Budget and priorities.
- Interests, concerns and pain points.
- Information sources.
- Level of knowledge about your services.
Also consider what stage in the buying process is your marketing going to target. Are you trying to attract prospects doing initial research online? Or are you nurturing a lead and trying to move them closer to hiring the firm? Your audience may have different needs and interests as they move through the sales funnel and the content should be targeted accordingly.
Don’t gloss over creating these profiles. Research and survey your market, monitor industry developments, incorporate social listening and look at what your competitors are doing as well as what the competitors of your clients are doing. Also analyze your own data. Segment your clients and prospects. Look at e-mail and social media statistics and website analytics.
The point is that the more you know about your buyer’s needs, the better you can tailor the substance of your message as well as how you promote it to them.
3. Choose a Well-Defined Niche
A lot of content marketing suffers from focusing on too broad a market. Although a more general topic theoretically gives you a larger potential audience, it can also be harder to get attention. We’re all suffering from information overload and there is so much content available that it’s overwhelming to look at it all. One of the ways to stand out is to promote a narrow expertise.
As you develop your buyer personas, determine your best targets and what you can offer them that is different and compelling. By focusing your content marketing on that group, you can position yourself as uniquely qualified in that niche. You may find yourself with fewer leads, but better quality ones because you better match what the prospect is looking for and there are fewer obvious competitors.
4. Develop an Editorial Calendar
Another crucial component of content marketing is consistency. Too often this is where firms fail, because they can’t maintain what they started.
An editorial calendar helps you create and manage the workflow. It’s where your editorial and marketing strategies are actually laid out and implemented. Use the calendar to plan out content topics or themes in advance, establish deadlines and assign responsibilities for each step in the process. Think about the format for your content, your message and audience, where and how will it be marketed and distributed and what resources are needed.
You want to plan ahead at least quarterly, but ideally more than that. You can have a 12-month calendar laying out general ideas, and then flesh it out each quarter. It may help to have a master calendar for the firm, but then separate calendars for different practice/industry groups or by content type (for example, a separate calendar for a blog). Your calendar should remain flexible to incorporate newsworthy or topical issues.
Although you may have different people responsible for various parts of the workflow, there should be one overall project manager to make sure everything stays on track.
5. Reuse Content
Developing new content on a regular basis is challenging, so look for ways to repurpose your existing content and curate other people’s content. We discuss these ways next month in Part Two of this article.
By: Edie Reinhardt
Originally published in Marketing the Law Firm, April 2015, Law Journal Newsletters. ALM Properties Inc. All rights reserved. To view the issue, visit www.lawjournalnewsletters.com.