Whether you're actively marketing online, engaging in social media, or perusing your favorite website, publication, or blog, chances are you've come across some form of content marketing. Discover the benefits of content marketing and how to use it yourself.
What Is Content Marketing?
Simply put, content marketing is all about creating valuable and relevant content to engage members of your target audience and, ultimately, drive them to action.
Importantly, the content you create and share should be closely related to your area of expertise and tailored to what your audience wants and needs.
What Are Some Types of Content Marketing?
Content comes in many shapes and sizes. A blog post doesn't take up as much time or resources as developing an e-book or infographic. However, you can parse out excerpts from a whitepaper or e-book into multiple blog posts. You're only limited by your imagination when it comes to what you create. Here are some examples:
- Blog Posts
A blog post can be about an important case in your practice area, a news story that intersects with the work you do, or anything else that offers you the opportunity to showcase your expertise. Blogs often are the "foundational home" for a piece of content to be repurposed across multiple channels (including, but not limited to, social media). Blogging also represents a great way to keep the content fresh on your site and increase your online visibility (because search engines love fresh content).
E-books are an excellent way to demonstrate subject matter expertise. E-books tend to be longer-form narratives on a specific topic that are well structured and incorporate a more polished design and images. E-books should educate versus entertain, and provide readers with insightful and valuable information.
Whitepapers, such as the one you are reading, are like e-books in that they are educational. However,
- Tips and Lists
"Top tips" and lists are popular forms of short and easy-to-consume content marketing. Be sure to make them easy for readers to quickly scan and use visual call-outs for key points and takeaways. If needed, provide additional links to other resources for more in-depth information (maybe an e-book?).
Presentations, or slide decks, serve as a great platform for presenting complex ideas in a digestible and practical way. As with any presentation, slides should be simple and contain minimal text throughout. Don't forget to sprinkle in images and graphics to keep readers interested and engaged.
Infographics rely on visuals to tell a story, demonstrate a process and communicate data or knowledge quickly and clearly. Infographics are eye-catching and are more likely to be shared with others. If you're looking to provide information in a way that’s easy to understand, infographics can be a very effective tool.
Video can be a powerful way to cut through the clutter and make an impact. Video must be done right for it to be effective, but right doesn't always mean expensive. The trick to using video as part of a content strategy is to make it interesting, short, and valuable to your audience. Video tends to perform well in online searches and can be highly visible when posted on YouTube and other social media platforms.
Takeaway: Don't feel like you have to swing for the fences right away by creating a huge piece of content, such as an e-book. Start with a blog post, work your way to a whitepaper, and then move on to an e-book or infographic.
Getting Started: Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
While it's easy enough to begin writing content and post it on your channels of choice, you may find yourself veering off the path and struggling to maintain consistency and focus over the long haul without first developing a strategy. Having a clearly defined and structured content marketing strategy is vital to any content marketing effort.
First, ask yourself these questions:
- Q. Who is the audience?
One size does not fit all when it comes to content. What you develop for referring attorneys and peers should not be the same as what you would develop for consumers. Tailor your message to resonate with your audience.
- Q. What topics will you write about?
You can't be all things to all people. Identify the topics you want to be known for as the expert and focus on them.
- Q. What topics should you avoid?
It's also important to know what topics you don't want to be associated with. If you don't identify these topics as part of your strategy, you may find yourself straying off your intended path.
- Q. How often are you generating content?
- Q. Who's writing it?
It could be you, an associate, an outside professional, or all of the above. What's important is that you set yourself up for success from a time management perspective and put a process in place that works best for you.
- Q. Where will it live?
Before you develop content, consider where it will ultimately end up. Your audience consumes information differently in different venues. Tailor the presentation of your content for each channel, be it your website, social media, or email.
Create an Editorial Content Calendar
Don't be a one-hit wonder; create a content calendar and stick to it. Start by creating one piece of fresh content every month and gradually move to twice a month. Before you know it, you'll be creating content on a weekly basis. (Or, you may find that once a month is all you can handle. But even then, in a year, you'll have 12 solid pieces of content showcasing your expertise and thought leadership.)
Example content schedule:
- Define and develop a topic on Monday or Tuesday
- Finalize by Wednesday
- Post and distribute on Thursday
- Engage with your audience and review your efforts on Friday
Is this Legal? Content Marketing for the Legal Industry
Lawyers can use content marketing in various ways to connect with colleagues, peers, referral sources, clients, and the general public. The key to being successful is to write
Referrals — Staying top of mind with peers and other lawyers through consistent and ongoing content generation goes a long way in establishing yourself as an expert in your area of the law.
Direct to consumer — If your practice is focused on consumer-facing areas such as personal injury or family law, then your clientele is often looking for information and education. Being the valuable resource that gives them the answers they're looking for puts you in a position to get their business.
- Posting regularly to a blog or elsewhere on your website
- Publishing articles in legal publications and websites
- Sharing that content on social media, such as LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook (for consumer-facing practice areas), and SlideShare
- Pushing that content out to your network via targeted emails
One Last Thing
Before you embark on your content marketing journey, keep in mind that it takes time to establish a reputation and make a lasting impression. Be patient and persistent and, whether you're posting your first blog post or creating your tenth infographic, always ask yourself this question...
"Will my audience thank me for it?"
Zack McKamie is the director of strategic marketing at Androvett Legal Media & Marketing. His experience stretches from Texas to Dubai, as he’s helped businesses develop and implement a wide range of marketing initiatives. Zack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.