When it comes to marketing and advertising, law firms and solo practicing attorneys have a lot of options to choose from. TV, radio and billboards are among the most visible law firm marketing and advertising vehicles. But they’re also among the most expensive. And they’re targeted to the mass market, which often isn’t necessary or cost-effective for attorneys operating in niche areas.

For many attorneys, content marketing is a better option. Writing articles about their particular fields of expertise and getting them published in trade journals and local consumer publications has long been an effective attorney marketing strategy. Doing so helps lawyers build credibility and establish their reputation as an expert among clients and prospects, without hitting them over the head with a hard sales pitch.

With the rise of the Internet and other digital forms of communication, content marketing has exploded in recent years as a marketing tool. Savvy attorneys and law firms are creating integrated content marketing programs that use digital distribution strategies to get targeted, value-added content in front of their clients, prospects and referral sources — often at a very low cost while staying within the advertising guidelines of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

What Exactly Is “Content”?

Content assets (as they’re sometimes referred to) can take many different forms for an attorney or law firm. These typically include:

  • Bylined articles - These are one of the best ways to establish professional credibility and build your reputation as a subject matter expert. Post them on your website, submit them to trade journals and local publications, and consider publishing them on an article marketing website.
  • Blog posts - These are similar to bylined articles, but are usually shorter and more direct. Blogging on a consistent basis — preferably once a week, but once a month at a minimum — is a great way to boost search engine optimization (SEO) for your website.
  • White papers and E-books - These go deeper than an article or blog post by digging into a niche-specific legal topic in more detail. White papers usually range from 6-10 pages, while e-books can be 20-30 pages or longer. Post them prominently on your website and consider having visitors provide their name and contact info in order to download them as a PDF.
  • Social media posts - Your law firm Facebook page and Twitter feed can be used to alert your followers about new content that has posted online and link them to it. And your and your fellow attorneys’ LinkedIn profiles should be viewed as content assets themselves — make sure they are well-written and kept up to date.
  • Seminars/webinars and videos - Any seminars your firm hosts should be videotaped and repurposed as webinars, and then posted prominently on your website. The same goes for informational videos, which should be posted to a corporate YouTube channel. Remember you will need authorizations and releases from all those people in your videos whose images can be recognized.
  • Courtroom graphics and PowerPoint presentations - Lawyers often don’t think of these as potential content assets, but they can be if positioned properly. Of course, be sure to remove any sensitive client information before posting them.

Distributing Your Content

Creating content is just half the battle — you also need a strategy for getting it in front of your clients, prospects and referral sources. This is where the Internet has really changed the content marketing game. Content distribution is no longer limited to print vehicles like magazines, newspapers and newsletters — it’s really restricted only by your imagination.

The main digital content distribution channels for attorneys and law firms are your firm’s website, social media channels, email (via e-newsletters), and content syndication services. Keyword-rich content that is strategically posted online will be indexed by the major search engines and could boost your website’s SEO results significantly.

And don’t forget about analytics. These are a critical component of content distribution because they will provide detailed information on who visited specific pages of your website, what content assets they downloaded, how your articles and blogs are being received in the blogosphere, and who is reading your e-newsletter and clicking on its links.

One of the best ways to get a handle on content creation, distribution and analytics is to implement an overall content management system. Systems like Wordpress, Ektron, Kentico and others enable attorneys and law firms to not only build and maintain their websites themselves, but they also make it easy to manage content assets like bylined articles and blogs.

You can take this a step further by adding a lead management program like Marketo or Eloqua to your content management system. These programs integrate your website, email marketing initiatives and other digital content assets into a powerful lead generation system for your law firm.

The bottom line: When planning your marketing and advertising strategies, don’t just think inside the traditional boxes of TV, radio and billboards. Content marketing can be more effective than these mass-market vehicles for many attorneys and law firms, at a fraction of the cost.