As a marketer to the professional services industry, I can tell you that “content marketing” for law firms has arrived and is here to stay.  With social media, email, and Web advancements, it’s become all too easy to “push” your firm’s message out to the masses. The result is a fundamental shift away from pushing the more self-serving “me” marketing messages out to the marketplace, towards providing “you”-focused content of value to a more targeted audience.  Basically, your potential clients don’t necessarily want to know about you or your firm; they have questions they want answered. The primary objective of content marketing is to gain the trust and attention of an audience by providing them with valuable information on topics they are already interested in.

Take a few moments to browse through large or mid-sized law firms’ web sites and notice how many offer blog sites and other tools and resources. Content marketing has become such an integral part of the marketing mix for professional services firms that it’s become more of a “price to play” than a “nice to have.” It’s also a great opportunity for young attorneys and professionals to enhance their knowledge and boost their careers. If you and/or your firm don’t generate great content, you should consider starting!

What is ‘content marketing’ anyway?

The first thing you should know is that “content” refers to any information, tools, or resources available on the internet. With a content marketing strategy, your firm’s web site becomes less of a virtual brochure and more of a virtual hub of resources and  consistently updated information. These types of resources include:

  • Articles
  • Photographs
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Blogs
  • eBooks
  • White Papers
  • Web Copy
  • Seminars/Webinar

How can content marketing advance my career?

The one catch about great online content marketing tactics is that it needs to be created by the expert (you). This can also be a great opportunity for a younger or less experienced attorney. If you are just starting out in your career or even mid-level, you may not have the connections to bring in the big business, but with enough research, you can contribute great content!

Developing original content may sound complex, but it really doesn’t have to be. A typical blog post is about 400-600 words; a tweet…140 characters. Most likely, you’re already reading materials to stay up-to-date on your practice or industry focus; if not, there are great online tools such as Google Reader or Google Alerts to help filter information that is relevant to you.

Using content marketing effectively (developing blog posts, articles, white papers, seminar materials, etc.. and repurposing these in various formats) can greatly advance your career by increasing your visibility both inside and outside your firm. Here’s how:

1. Content builds quantifiable “assets” which enhances your professional portfolio. Your resume and maybe even a LinkedIn Profile states your expertise, but having a portfolio of professional content demonstrates your expertise and value.

Action items:

  • Concentrate on 1-2 types of content
  • Commit to contributing on a consistent schedule

2. Build a following; become a mini-celeb! When you create and share high quality content, clients, partners, colleagues and sometimes even a wider audience recognize you as a “thought leader” or trusted resource. Examples of successfully becoming a “mini-celebrity” would be getting your content published in a recognized industry publication or even gaining a number of Twitter followers!

Action items:

  • Stalk!  Read and follow blogs and thought leaders in your industry.
  • Pitch a relevant post or article to a publication and eventually become a regular contributor.
  • Develop content toward an audience that matters to you (think quality over quantity and find your specific niche).

3. Most importantly…content marketing can get you business! Simply put, the key to content marketing is understanding exactly what your clients and potential clients need to know and delivering it to them in a relevant and compelling way. A “pull strategy” draws warmer leads, and valuable content earns and builds trust, and the business relationship follows. One of the most effective ways to build your career is to help your firm bring in new business.

Are you an attorney (possibly with just a few years under your belt) who has created content for your firm?  What have been the rewards for both the firm and your own professional career?  We’d love to hear some success your stories!

This post originally appeared in The Legal Intelligencer Blog.