Four Content Marketing Methods That Aren't Blog Posts
When people hear the term “content marketing,” they immediately think of blogging and promptly shudder. Either 1) they can't stomach the idea of cramming blogging into an already full schedule, or 2) they can’t imagine coming up with a topic that could fill a 1000-word post.
Although blogging is indeed a highly effective content marketing method, it's not the only one. In fact, content marketing predates blogs and other online content, and has a sundry of different shapes and forms.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as follows:
"Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
As you can see, this definition does not even mention the internet.
Have you seen billboards on the side of the interstate? That’s content marketing. Superbowl commercials? Content marketing. Infographics in magazines? Content marketing. Podcasts? Content marketing.
According to a 2014 Forbes article, content marketing is designed to aid a consumer or customer’s four-step buying process:
First, the customer needs to be aware of a problem or need.
Next, the customer researches the problem to 1) become educated about it, and 2) to learn about possible resolutions.
The customer compares competing products and/or services to choose the best fit.
The customer makes his decision and closes the deal.
Content marketing leverages the first two steps of the process: spreading awareness and providing fodder for a customer’s research.
The most important part of any content marketing campaign? Provide value to the customer.
Viewing content marketing through this lens, it becomes clear that blogging is not the only way to add value to your clients – whether existing or prospective. There are numerous ways to create engaging content that they will read, process, and share. To help you get started, here are four creative ways to produce valuable content for your client base.
1. A website feed showing recent social media activity
This is a good alternative to blogging. Most website platforms include plugins that can link up your social media accounts, so that visitors to your site can track your recent activity: photos, posts, events you attended, and more. The benefit of this approach is that you can share a variety of content, from substantive legal information to updates in firm life and culture. I’ve seen firms share content ranging from short summaries of new case law related to their practice areas, to client spotlights and firm-wide community service projects.
2. Email newsletters
Many attorneys are starting to use email newsletters to provide free legal advice to their clients. Services like Mailchimp are free up to a certain number of subscribers. In particular, Mailchimp allows you to segment your subscriber list so that you can direct certain types of content to specific individuals. For instance, if you practice personal injury and family law, you can segment your list by client and direct the appropriate subject matter to each group of individuals.
Many of these services also allow you to set up "drip" campaigns, whereby you establish a sequence of emails for new subscribers providing updates, information, or free guides. This is often called a "nurture sequence" and is an effective way to develop a relationship with members of your online audience.
3. Free guides
Downloadable guides can be extremely useful to your current and prospective clients. One of my colleagues runs a small personal injury firm and devised a free guide for victims of car accidents. The guide includes information regarding insurance, what to do immediately after getting into an accident, and resources for getting help. This type of model works for a variety of practice areas. For instance, if you practice criminal defense, you could devise a guide entitled “Traffic Tickets 101,” explaining the process of handling a traffic ticket in your jurisdiction.
While free guides provide helpful information to your client base, they don’t supplant the expertise of a retained lawyer. Often, clients will download a free guide to obtain preliminary information, but still hire the attorney to help them handle their cases. The guides provide a service to your client base by empowering them with the right information, so they even know where to start. The added benefit is that they think of YOU first when they are ready to pull the trigger on hiring counsel.
Like free guides, e-books provide basic information on a variety of topics, but are slightly longer and provide a more in-depth analysis. For instance, a personal injury attorney specializing in motorcycle accidents may publish an e-book on motorcycle law in his jurisdiction, or an attorney who serves startup companies and entrepreneurs may author an e-book that describes the different types of legal entities.
E-books do not necessarily have to be law-related. For instance, I know an attorney who created an e-book on wellness for entrepreneurs. This was a smart move, since it applies to two groups: 1) other lawyers, and 2) his clients - largely small to medium-sized companies. Writing e-books on non-legal topics like wellness is an innovative way to set yourself apart, showing that you are concerned with the well being of your colleagues and clients.
These creative content marketing methods will attract visitors to your website, build up a bank of content that will increase your website’s SEO, set you up as a trustworthy source, and most importantly of all, provide value to your customers.
Have you tried any of these? Are there other methods that have been effective for your firm? Please share in the comments!
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