Figuring out what to write about is the biggest challenge in content marketing. Now, writing anything at all is a step in the right direction.
But if you really want your content marketing to generate leads, you must write about the right things.
To demonstrate what I mean, we’re going to talk about a hypothetical lawyer’s blog. So far, this lawyer has been blogging about sort of the very basic stuff that people might need to know. For example, one of his posts might talk about premise injury cases, noting that anyone who owns a piece of property has a responsibility to maintain that property so that people don’t get hurt while they visit.
There’s nothing wrong with this content, and any given blog will have plenty of of this sort of stuff in order to keep the keywords and updates flowing. However, it’s not exactly gripping. It gets a prospect’s foot in the door, but it doesn’t necessarily prompt the prospect to make a call.
So what sorts of content should our hypothetical lawyer consider?
Content that addresses fears.
Get real with your customers and clients. They have some fears and roadblocks that are keeping them from hiring you. Your blog is a great place to answer those fears.
What fears might someone have about hiring a lawyer? Well, many of us have no idea how much a retainer is, and whether they can afford yours. They also aren’t sure about hourly rates. They don’t know how many hours the average case costs.
They don’t know whether they’re actually going to benefit from hiring you. They have heard stories of plaintiffs who got nothing while lawyers walked off with big checks. They’ve heard stories about lawyers dragging matters out unnecessarily to pad their fees.
I recognize that the answer to some of these questions is, “it depends.” But you can give your readers a ballpark figure. You can tell them a bit about what might impact these prices or issues. You can take a moment to tell them, in general terms, how you handle cases that you’ve worked in the past so that they have some notion of what the process actually looks like.
People will make a decision to work with you when you can put their fears to rest.
Content that tells a story.
People do go to blogs because they’re looking for information. But they’re also looking to be entertained.
Remember that the whole “content marketing” phenomenon owes its roots, in part, to big glossy magazines. Magazines are pure content marketing. They fill their pages with stories with useful information: how to articles, tips, tricks, information about things you can buy to make your life easier. But they also fill their pages with stories: inspiring or interesting tales about people who are doing inspiring or interesting things. This is all grouped around some theme: race cars, or horses, or homemakers, or whatever. As you read the stuff, you of course also look at the pretty ads.
Can you imagine a magazine restricting all of its content to things like, “Property Liability: What’s My Responsibility?” Of course, they would not do that.
So think about telling a story. You can do this without violating anyone’s confidentiality. I blogged for one lawyer who was able to get a significant cash award for a client because she caught the defendant in a lie. The defendant said, “we don’t have any e-mails.” An hour later, he whipped out a blackberry. She pointed this out to the judge and asked him to order them to submit to the investigations of a forensic computer specialist. The result? The retrieval of plenty of deleted e-mails and egg on the face of the big bank that was trying to stick it to the little guy. This was a fun story to tell, and it never named any names.
It’s probably a fun story to read, too. That’s a heck of a cast of characters: the arrogant, sneering banker on his smart phone, the plucky lawyer who calls him out on his lies. It has all the stuff of a courtroom drama.
Incidentally, reading this story probably also does a lot to alleviate the fears of anyone who might hire that lawyer in the future. It demonstrates this lawyer’s benevolence, intelligence, and passion on behalf of her clients.
Content addressed to the correct audience.
Some companies make the mistake of blogging for their competitors. For example, I’ve seen lawyers who fill their blogs with in-depth opinions on legal decisions and their implications for the future. These treatises are filled up with technical jargon that the average layperson would never be able to wade through.
That’s not to say there isn’t some valuable information in those posts. You just have to remember your audience. Take a step back and ask, “What does this mean to the types of people who hire lawyers like me?”
Perhaps a recent court ruling has created an opportunity for clients like yours–but they have to file something within a certain period of time or avoid making a particular statement in order to take advantage of the opportunity. Cut straight to that. Don’t get into a 1600 word discussion of the legal precedent behind that opportunity, or into long-term speculations about what that could mean for this or that case. Your reader probably doesn’t care. Your reader does care how this might impact him or her, however, so go there!
When in doubt…
Of course, all of these tips apply to any kind of business and any kind of blog. Most businesses have in-depth, technical know-how behind the scenes of what they do. But remember this. Your blog is a marketing piece, as surely as any other marketing piece in your arsenal. So when in doubt, go for your audience’s pain points! If you do, you can’t go wrong.