Engaging Corporate Counsels With Content: 6 Tips For Marketers
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Corporate counsels are drowning in content from law firms and their marketing teams: The American Lawyer reports that one analysis counted more than 70,000 pieces of online "insight" from Am Law 200 firms in 2020 alone.
In this flurry of legal content, quantity greatly outweighs quality. In-house corporate counsels, hungry for thorough, substantive content, are inundated with hastily considered client advisories, blog posts, whitepapers and newsletters.
The COVID-19 pandemic halted legal conferences and face-to-face matchmaking opportunities for decision-makers. While live events are now staging a comeback, the last two years forced every law firm marketer in the world to turn to online platforms and traditional print media as a way to continue their engagement with the audience.
Smart legal thought leaders and marketers know that engaging legal content is a game of show-don't-tell and that less can equal more. The question is: how to apply these principles when the legal world is awash in content that doesn't offer the analysis and insights that corporate counsels need to make critical decisions?
The answer is that there are specific steps to help cut through the clutter, grab attention and make an impression:
Create a strong and established online presence
Understand your audience and tailor your messaging
Develop and build your brand
Meet the demand for high-quality content
Pick the right syndication partner
Connecting the right content to the right audience is a process, but by following these six tips legal thought leaders can establish themselves as experts, while engaging and reaching the right corporate counsel audience.
Tip 1: Understand how corporate counsels find the right attorneys
Corporate counsel attorneys typically ask for recommendations from friends in the business or colleagues, and then they check online. For legal thought leaders, a strong online presence reinforces the impression that their expertise exceeds others' knowledge in the industry. Think beyond client alerts pasted onto your law firm profile. Legal and industry publications need content that reflects unique, thoughtful perspectives. Confirm your credibility by publishing in the outlets corporate counsels trust most.
Tip 2: Target and tailor your message to the audience
It is not uncommon for in-house counsel to feel like outsiders in their own companies. Legal thought leaders understand this and lean into their coaching roles as a way to engage attorneys. As external counsel, they likely have had a front-row seat to the inner workings of other companies' legal departments. They are not afraid to challenge in-house clients. When risk is discussed, they present solutions to the client as though they also are in the boardroom.
Tip 3: Focus your content and your social outreach
One way to create engaging content and develop legal thought leadership is to articulate industry problems, offering preemptive solutions. The Harvard Business Review advises it is better to be selective than to attempt to address every problem. At the same time, going deep into your analysis while ensuring that your words remain understandable to the generalist is a must. Verify that the best pieces in your online thought-leadership portfolio align, touting your results, high-quality affiliations, public speeches, appearances and awards. To increase your chances of reaching your intended targets, be both a consumer and contributor to social media, especially LinkedIn. Remember, anyone can link to their firm bio. Instead, go the extra mile.
Tip 4: Satiate the unmet appetite with high-quality content
A survey conducted between LinkedIn and public relations firm Edelman confirms the dearth of high-quality thought leadership content that is produced. Half of the decision-makers polled reported that thought leadership influences their purchasing decisions. Conversely, fewer than one-fourth of marketers were able to tie thought leadership to actual sales or "wins." Clearly, there is an unmet appetite.
The LinkedIn/Edelman survey also found:
Most people who engage with thought leadership spend at least an hour a week doing so;
When done well, thought leadership positively impacts brand perception and sales; and,
Marketers are not investing in doing thought leadership well and developing processes to measure its ROI.
This survey shows the continuing need for high-quality content that both engages and influences the audience. Instead of quick-hit blog posts, take the time to consider the audience, develop a unique argument or perspective and take the time to publish it right or find a partner who can reach the intended audience.
Tip 5: Demonstrate value
Thought leadership is earned. To keep the inhouse/external counsel relationship fresh, pointedly select which blog posts, podcasts and other metric-sensitive tools you will share and with whom. You might think of the exercise as though you were shopping for a personal gift. To further your clout, consider inviting your audience into your exclusive "gated" community where they can find whitepapers, e-books and other useful downloadables.
Tip 6: Pick the right content syndication partner
To publish and distribute your thought leadership content to the right audience, savvy thought leaders need to select an established, branded content syndication partner. This small but vital investment can ensure that your expertise lands in front of the right eyes. The other advantage of selecting the right partner is that you are not alone. Your syndication partner must have a deep understanding of the in-house audience, as well as the technological tools to pair expertise with need.
Ideally, selecting a partner like Law.com's OnPractice, a new content syndication service for law firms, offers a built-in in-house counsel audience hungry for content matching the topics, industries, news and firms most relevant to them. Marketers also need a partner that supports your team's work by tracking and reporting viewership metrics, placements and speaking opportunities.
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