The era of quarantine and social distancing has made many of the things we always took for granted impossible, inconvenient or indefinitely on hold. Many of these conveniences have had a significant impact on an attorney’s ability to develop new business, as the primary channels for forging and nurturing new relationships have been muted: in-person meetings, office visits, networking events, conferences, and even entertaining (golfing, cocktails, etc.) to a degree.
In the meantime, modern technology has emerged or expanded in its adoption to fill some of the gaps that have arisen in recent months. We’re all Zoom experts now. Digital marketing has replaced many traditional formats (perhaps permanently). Social media consumption and interaction has skyrocketed to make up for the lack of human interaction we all crave (and need, in order to remain profitable).
But there is critical fuel missing from the economic engine that would allow this train to hum along and actually drive the necessary activity to make up for the things we as humans are no longer able to do (at least for the moment). That fuel is content, and more specifically, thought leadership content.
While you personally are limited by the external forces that are shaping our daily routines and long-term business development planning, thought leadership content suffers no such barriers of time, geography or reach.
To wit, here are six critical components to a successful business development program that you can’t achieve without thought leadership content, to add to the list of all of the other obstacles the current pandemic has erected along your path to professional growth—things you can’t do, but content can:
1 – Maintain Visibility and Earn Authority on LinkedIn
You may be “on” LinkedIn, but if you’re not active on LinkedIn, you might as well be simply listed in the white pages of the phone book. Without your own thought leadership content, you’re simply a bystander or onlooker on the world’s most powerful professional networking platform. Sure, you can share other people’s content or comment on your colleague’s posts, but that does little to fortify your reputation as a subject matter expert who commands attention (and, by extension, premium fees). Authority is awarded to thought leaders who have the courage and clarity of vision to be prominent voices and content contributors.
2 – Invite a Prospect to Lunch, Coffee or Cocktails
Busy decision makers were already nearly impossible to peel away from their offices to give up an hour or more of their busy schedules for meetings that tend to be thinly veiled invitations to sales pitches. A global pandemic just gives them another excuse to politely decline your overtures to meet in person. But with a thought leadership content program in place, you can invite a prospect to be a guest on your podcast, to co-author an article for publication in a relevant trade journal, or to be interviewed for a white paper or book you’re working on. Such invitations are flattering, not fear-inducing, and can lead to a much more authentic and natural relationship that can be grown over time.
3 – Get Discovered on Search and Improve Your SEO
If you’re not consistently developing content (particularly, written content) and publishing that on both your own firm’s platform but also in industry trade journals, blogs and content communities, you’re practically invisible to search engines, and therefore, people searching for your expertise. Sure, someone searching you by name will find you on LinkedIn or your bio on your firm’s website, but you were already going to win those searches, with or without trying. But people searching for service sets, answers and solutions, topical and subject-matter-based expertise—which is how people go looking for answers nowadays—will not be able to discover content that doesn’t exist and isn’t indexed by Google. Instead, they’ll find your competitors’ content, and follow the digital breadcrumbs back to their bios and websites, instead of yours.
4 – Earn Media Publicity
A significant content library, along with a history of consistently publishing authoritative insights, analysis and expertise, establishes a reputation for being a reliable and sought-after voice in the arena of ideas. Media of all stripes and industry are looking for content that provides value and demystifies complexity for their readership. If you’re not producing such content, you simply don’t have the opportunity to be positioned for such editorial calendars. Furthermore, you lack the bona fides and reputation that a competitor may have earned by being an active publisher, which would give that competitor an advantage over you when reporters come looking for expert sources to interview for the stories they are writing. Standing on the content sidelines proves to be a lose-lose from a media perspective: Your content doesn’t get published, and reporters look elsewhere for high-profile contributors to their own pieces.
5 – Fuel Your Firm’s Marketing Engine
Your firm’s marketing department is likely churning out all sorts of marketing content on your firm’s behalf, from emails and client alerts to press releases and blog posts. But they can’t do it without you. In fact, 77% of legal marketers report that their biggest challenge is getting attorneys to produce content. It would be a mistake to miss such low-hanging fruit when your firm’s marketing team is willing to do most of the legwork for you. All you have to do is provide expertise; the rest of the team can create the content, distribute it via the firm’s marketing channels, and find syndication and publishing opportunities on your behalf.
6 – Send a No-Pressure, Non-Solicitation Email
Inbound sales pitches, whether they are delivered via email, phone or (increasingly!) text message make the recipient uncomfortable. This is especially true when the inbound intrusion is unsolicited but is solicitation. But what if you could send something that the recipient truly valued? This is where content comes in:
a link to an article that answers the questions a prospect posed during a meeting
a podcast that covers the subject matter a prospect has been asking about
a video that provides analysis or explanation on matters a prospect has grappled with
a white paper, survey results, research or anything else that carries the intent to inform, rather than to sell.
Would you have a seller’s aversion to providing that value, whether it’s blindly to a prospect you want to meet, as a follow-up to a meeting you just had, or to rekindle a productive conversation that has perhaps gone dormant for whatever reason? And do you think the prospect on the receiving end would avoid such contributions of authentic value, as they might your unsolicited prospecting overtures?
Mine and Refine the Resources You Already Have
The whole point is this: There is a lot we can’t do right now…we all feel that in our personal and professional lives every day. At the same time, modern technology has opened doors we never thought possible in years past. Many of these tools will be adopted permanently, both by attorneys and those lawyers need to influence.
But to maximize the efficacy of those tools and opportunities, you must provide the fodder to make the modern machinations work for you. The missing ingredient is thought leadership content. But all you need to do is mine the subject matter expertise you already have and refine it into business development fuel — renewable and sustainable energy to drive your business development engine forward despite whatever roadblocks may present themselves.
Gain Visibility and Build Authority
with Thought-Leadership PR and Marketing Services
We help lawyers and law firms become go-to experts who build strong brands and generate and win profitable new business. Through our extensive experience serving law firms, we develop strategies and execute campaigns that position our clients for success in key markets and industries.
Contact us to discuss your firm’s marketing and business development objectives, and how our unique process can help achieve them.
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We work with attorneys and law firms to deliver thought leadership PR in the form of written content, graphic design, multimedia and publicity.
From strategic planning to writing, podcasting, video marketing, and design, Tom and his team help lawyers and law firms turn expertise into thought leadership, and thought leadership into new business. Get in touch to learn how Harrington can convert your firm’s expertise into thought leadership content that gets published on the media and platforms your clients and prospects turn to for answers.
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