Blogging continues to be one of the best content marketing tools available to lawyers across all practice areas. In it’s most basic form, blogging gives lawyers a branded platform for developing a presence and voice on a particular subject matter. It also results in added visibility in a crowded legal marketplace. Here are a few tips to help you successfully blog:
- Select a blog name that quickly and clearly communicates your blog’s subject matter. Choosing cute or clever names will hurt your search engine efforts. Be sure to put keyword-driven titles and headers to work to help drive visibility to search engines and readers.
- Write easy to consume content. It is important to keep your content relevant to your intended audience and easy to consume by a variety of people. Your blog posts need to be both informative and interesting to read. Remember, your readers come from a variety of places ranging from potential clients, to referral sources, to journalists.
- Frequent, consistent posts. Free, relevant content is the key to repeat readers of your blog. That being said, to be successful, the definition of ‘frequent’ needs to come from you, your competition and your audience. Ask yourself the following questions to figure this out: How often can you reasonably contribute new content? What competitor blogs are out there and how often do they publish posts? What does your audience expect from industry blogs? Where could your intended audience potential look for this kind of information?
- Use tags and categories. Help readers easily find related posts by using tags and categories to organize each piece of content. These tools also help you identify the topics you have already covered so that you may write future posts to update the reader on an area you are keeping track of. It can also help you identify gaps in topics related to your readers’ businesses.
- Keep it short and sweet. Blogs are, by nature, short thoughts and commentary. Cover one topic for each post, keeping your comments direct and helpful.
- Topics can range from news items, trending topics, changes in the law, industry events and more. The glue that makes it all stick together is relevancy to a specific industry, practice area and even a geographic location.
- Identify what success looks like to you. Understand how you measure your success before you start blogging. Is success defined by the number of topics you write on, the quantity of hits you get through your social media outlets, the quality of your subscriber base or simply the act of having new content on your blog each month?
- Track your traffic. Use analytics, such as Google Analytics, to help you understand how many visitors frequent your blog, which search terms they are using to find you, or to identify the topics that are most popular. Then cater your blogging to the most successful mix.
Blogging doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can be fun! Remember that blogging allows you to share relevant information with your networks so that they may in turn, share it with their collective influencers. It is an essential tool to use for building your presence and confirming your authority on your subject matter.
Business development plans come in all shapes and sizes, and with all kinds of strategies to develop and nurture long term relationships leading to business opportunities. Networking is an important part of that plan. You take time to select an event to meet the people in your target market, identify who is likely to be there, practiced your quick pitch and dressed smartly. But you find yourself dreading it. Why? Because walking into a networking event forces you out of your comfort zone. How do you make the most of the next 2 hours? Here are some tips:
- Don’t go in cold. Since you have taken the time to identify who may be in attendance, start planning your conversation starters. Think about timely topics, industry related questions and other relevant talking points so that you may spark a conversation at a moment’s notice.
- Dress for success. Identify the personality of the event, the business position of the attendees and the environment of the venue. Dress one step above what you think the group will be donning. Don’t wear high maintenance clothes that require your attention (read: no shirts that don’t stay tucked, plunging necklines or wraps that keep slipping off your shoulder) Make sure you have pockets to keep business cards– keep yours in one pocket and the cards you collect in the the other pocket.
- Hold your head high. Look confident, even if you are incredibly uncomfortable in the networking environment. The old saying, “fake it ’til you make it” has some truth here.
- Go to the furthest food station or bar. When you walk into a room, scan it. Then cross the room to the further bar or food station. This gives you time to assess the group and see who you may know. See someone along the way, stop and say hello. Don’t see anyone you know, simply get something to drink or eat and strike up a conversation with the folks next to you.
- Prioritize your activities at the event. If you know who you want to see while you are there, find that person and connect with them early on. That way you won’t miss them if they decide to leave early or get engrossed in a deep conversation with someone else.
- Find groups of 1s and 3s. If you don’t know anyone in the room, look for people who are either alone, or in a small group with an odd number (like 3 or 5 people). The single people will be thrilled to have someone to talk to and the groups of odd numbers allows for gentler interruption of conversation.
- Ask questions. People love to talk about familiar topics. Ask them questions about themselves, their careers, how they know the host, etc… If you get them talking, listen to what they say for clues for conversation segues.
- Take your turn. The conversation will eventually turn to you– so be ready to give your quick pitch. Adapt your language for any newfound commonalities amongst you and the listeners.
If networking makes you feel anxious, take a look at it through a new lens. Try to think of networking as making new friends. Take the opportunity to meet people who have a common interest as you. With thoughtful follow-up, some of these new people will blossom into long-term relationships while others may take an other path. Either way, be open to new experiences with new people. Suddenly it won’t feel like work, but rather time well spent.
Creating a marketing plan is an important step towards bringing in new business. Before you draft a plan, there is some considerations to think through. Do you know what you want to accomplish with your plan? Do you understand what your contacts may be looking for? Do you know how visible you are at this starting point? It is important to understand the lifecycle of a client from discovery to referral. Here are the stages of developing your business relationships.
- Discovery. Discovery marks the very beginning of a business relationship. At this point, your contacts (aka future consumers) have identified their needs and they will begin to educate themselves on the various options to fill that need. The trick to getting discovered is being there before they have realized the need.
- Education. Your goal is to provide ongoing education about who you are, what problems you solve and how you handle matters. By building relationships before your services are needed, you establish visibility for yourself over a long period of time, increasing your credibility.
- Engagement. While you are educating your networks on what you do, it is important to engage them with the content you provide. Be available to answer questions, help others in their network and establish your relationship.
- Activate. When a potential hiring scenario is established, you can now talk to the prospect about a business relationship. Make a proposal to help them resolve a problem and ask them for the work.
- Get hired. If the chemistry is right, and you have done all of your homework along the way, you will get hired. Now it is crucial to translate this client into a regular, loyal and satisfied customer.
- Referrals. When your customer is at their happiest with your service, now is the time to ask them to refer you to others prospects who may need your services. If they are satisfied, there shouldn’t be any barriers to sharing their good experiences and send you referrals.
Now that you understand the lifecycle of developing your clients from scratch, it is time to build a marketing plan that wraps in all of these stages. Nurturing relationships is the only way to build long-term, satisfied clients who will refer you to others.