If you follow our blog, then you know we are huge believers in thought leadership for law firms. Displaying expertise and credibility is an incredibly important marketing activity for legal organizations. When what you have to sell is your own knowledge, showing that you are an authority in certain subjects is a powerful form of marketing. Are you taking full advantage of the thought leadership that you produce? We’ve compiled our top tips for creating legal thought leadership content that stands out.
What Makes Great Thought Leadership?
Before you can create great thought leadership, you need to know what that even means. Is effective thought leadership a one-off campaign? What about an overall strategy, or a collection of content marketing?
Experts from the Content Marketing Institute have defined thought leadership as “an intentional exercise of knowledge, skills, and expertise to increase awareness, elevate perception, and drive preference related to key issues that an audience cares about.” The most important part of the concept is addressing an issue that your audience truly cares about. Good thought leadership content shares helpful information while showcasing your firm’s expertise supported by credible, data-driven sources.
The Four Factors of Successful Thought Leadership
A strong thought leadership platform is based on external factors – like your audience and what’s happening in the world – not internal ones like your own content requirements. A good thought leadership process will stick to these four tenants:
1. External Context
Start by understanding what’s going on around you, and in the market. What conversations are happening in your industry? What’s the latest news? What are some of the most common questions you get, or legal challenges you hear about? To elaborate on these ideas, you need to find the right subject matter expert. Is there someone in your firm who is qualified to share educational information on the topic? If not, who can you partner with? You’ll also want to do competitive research to see what else is being discussed and how. Keep a pulse on competitor content and keep an open dialogue going with your sales team – they are a great resource for getting feedback from real people.
2. Insight From Your Audience
What does your target market actually want to hear about? This point is somewhat related to the one above, but the bottom line is that your thought leadership offers no value if people don’t want to consume it. Test theme relevance by conducting small focus groups or sending test versions to a smaller audience. Make sure to map your content themes to your own client journey, so that there is something valuable offered to people in each stage of their relationship with your firm (from brand awareness all the way through to loyal clients). Client evidence can also be really powerful here. This is a great place to explore case studies or collaborative white papers. You can highlight your expertise while also displaying real-life client scenarios and outcomes.
3. Organization Support
To build a truly successful program, thought leadership must be a priority across the organization. That means that you have located the correct subject matter experts, and they are on board. They must be willing to spend their time working on this type of content. You also need executive support. If your leadership team doesn’t think thought leadership is a good use of time, it will be hard to incentivize anyone else to work on it. And to obtain that executive support, you should be able to show how thought leadership relates to corporate initiatives. For example, in what ways will compelling thought leadership contribute to more leads this year? Or, maybe you can show how thought leadership is correlated with better talent acquisition. The important thing is to get everyone you need on board from the get-go.
A robust thought leadership program won’t be built overnight. Once you’ve worked on step 3 and have buy-in from stakeholders in your firm, you have to figure out how time and resources will be allocated. It’s one thing for people to say they will support thought leadership efforts – but it’s another thing for them to sit down and actually write an article. Build a plan and budget for executing thought leadership and capture some benchmarks that you’ll measure to. Additionally, consider your team carefully and make sure everyone involved views thought leadership as a real part of their role (not just something extra on top of it).
Thought leadership is crucial for any law firm. Your firm’s marketing success or failure could hinge on the content that you produce. We can help you develop compelling content: from conducting audience profiles to refining messaging and creating different content types, we work with firms of all sizes to develop thought leadership that works.