The marketing trick you probably haven't tried

Jane Pribek, The Daily Record Newswire

Content marketing isn't new, but if you're not doing it yet, you're missing out.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, the practice is formally defined as "the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience with the objective of driving profitable customer action."

Stated another way, "Traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you're a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world that you are one."

Consider the experience of the Employee Benefits Practice Group at DeWitt Ross & Stevens SC, Madison. A few years ago, a couple of its attorneys with expertise in employee-stock-ownership plans began regularly posting content to a "newsfeed" devoted to the topic. It's really a blog, marketing director Michelle Friedman said, but "newsfeed" attracts more visitors because prospective clients are more likely to use the search term "news" rather than "blog."

Those attorneys also posted a series of short videos answering questions.

"It's all about ESOPs and the process," Friedman said. "It's not about us or the firm."

Because the firm regularly posts new content on the topic, Google's crawlers love it, and it shows up at the top of the organic results on the first page.

The group has doubled its ESOP client base during the past two years, Friedman said.

"We know, hands down, that several of the clients who have come in were a direct result of finding our content on our website," she said.

And if you're thinking "Wait, I'm a small firm lawyer. I don't have time. This can't work for a small firm," then consider Milwaukee-based Mahany & Ertl LLC's content marketing success story.

Attorney Brian Mahany, one of three in the Milwaukee firm, recently represented one of three whistleblowers who stepped forward in U.S.A v. Bank of America. The case resulted in the biggest False Claims Act verdict, $16.65 billion, against a member of the banking industry. It's also the largest civil recovery against a single defendant.

The client had found Mahany, who had previously done several false claims cases, through his blog.

"I decided that I wanted to do one involving Bank of America," Mahany said. "I wrote many, many articles on my blog about mortgage fraud and Bank of America, and lo and behold, in 2013 I got a phone call from a Bank of America vice-president who said 'Hey, I'm willing to come forward.'"

So how do you get started so you can land your own potentially billion-dollar client?

The first step is to strategize, Friedman said. Make a list of your favorite clients and figure out what they have in common, whether it's a particular industry or type of legal problem. Think about the kind of information you could post that would attract more clients like them.

Then determine how often you'll publish. At a minimum, shoot for once a month, Friedman said, although Mahany said he posts something new every day.

"You don't want to put too much information out there, because you don't want people to get tired of seeing it too much, but not too little information, either," Friedman said. Her firm sets an editorial calendar, which they follow religiously.

"Keep the articles short, to-the-point, and something a layman would want to read, 500 to 800 words," she said.

Sometimes they write original content. Other times they link to another website and comment on the sites' article.

And if you really don't want to launch your own blog, Friedman said, being active on LinkedIn can accomplish the same goal.

Published: Tue, Mar 17, 2015

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