I get lots of emails every day about content marketing – the particular brand of marketing I do for legal types such as yourself. Some of those emails are helpful, some are overly technical, and some make my head explode.
I got one of the latter just the other day. The gist of the email was, “If you aren’t going to commit 100 percent to content marketing, then don’t waste your time.” Of course, the sender was a company that sold content marketing services, so maybe the threatening/condescending tone got them some new clients.
But, to me, the sender’s argument was the equivalent of saying, “If you can’t exercise an hour and a half a day at peak intensity, then just stay on the couch.”
Lawyers live in the real world
Perhaps the “go hard or go home” mantra works well with retail or tech companies when it comes to content marketing. But lawyers live in the real world – the one where billable work comes first and marketing your firm, including writing blogs and maintaining your social media presence, is what you fit in around the edges if you have any steam left at the end of the day.
And even if you have someone (like me) helping you write and distribute your words of wisdom, you still have to play a significant role in providing your expertise, fact-checking, and just generally making sure you like what’s being written and disseminated in your firm’s name.
Most of my clients aspire to publish a new blog post (usually with my help) once every week or two. Sometimes, we make that goal. But very often, the time-consuming practice of law interferes, and weeks may go by without an update.
So, does that mean all that previous effort was wasted? Of course not. It’s remarkable how quickly you can build up a hefty archive with even sporadic posts. And the heightened visibility you get from making sure your referral sources know you’re keeping up with legal developments in your practice area always helps.
Lessons from daily journalism
I have worked with clients who exhibit what I will charitably call a “spotty” commitment to their blog but who nevertheless see big payoffs in the form of increased quality and quantity of calls from clients who were impressed by their intermittent blog posts. And that’s because, rather than throwing in the towel after a few months because they couldn’t post something every week, they kept at it.
As one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott, once said, “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.”
For better or worse, I’ve never listened to that voice. One of the benefits I learned as a daily newspaper journalist is that you make peace with letting go of a somewhat-unpolished work of art. You turned your story in not because it was perfect but because your deadline had arrived and if you didn’t turn it in there was going to be a big hole in the next day’s paper.
I’m not saying you should phone in your marketing efforts. You should make a real commitment and invest whatever portion of your time and money you can reasonably commit. But unless you have a dedicated staffer with a law degree and a background in marketing, chances are you’re going to have to play some part in making sure your marketing is successful.
‘Quit doing things half-fast’
Several years ago, when I was visiting some in-laws, I noticed that my nephew had posted his New Year’s Resolutions on the fridge. One of them said that he would “Quit doing things half-fast.”
I asked my sister-in-law what “half-fast” meant, and she sheepishly said, “Well, I wasn’t exactly saying half-fast. I told him to quit doing things half-assed, and he, in his innocent little head, heard half-fast, which I think works just as well.”
So my message to lawyers who are pondering marketing themselves is this: Please don’t listen to the oppressors who say you must devote an unreasonable amount of your resources to marketing or you’re throwing your money away. Spend whatever time, money and energy you can reasonably afford on marketing yourself. That may be posting a blog intermittently, engaging with colleagues on LinkedIn, getting more involved in your local bar association, doing an occasional e-announcement – it’s all worthwhile.
I know more than a few lawyers (and professionals of all stripes) who let the dream of perfection oppress them into doing nothing. Don’t let that be you.
Even half-fast marketing is better than no marketing at all.
Muse Communications, LLC, helps lawyers, law firms and legal services companies tell their story by providing sparkling content across a wide variety of platforms. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.