Monday, March 18, 2013

Legal Content - Future Clients will Expect It

For better or worse, right now most law firm content strategies (blogs, white papers, Avvo articles, etc.) are focused on search engine optimization.  Obviously, SEO is hugely important and becoming more so as online networks encroach more and more on human lives.  However, we have long pointed out that law firm blogging is about much more than SEO.  While the SEO value alone is enough to make it virtually required for all serious law firms, it is a mistake to view these tools--of which blogging is the most important--as only useful to increase pageranks on Google searches.

Playing the Long Game

One way to look at it is by considering the legal client of the future. Picture the twenty year old today.  This person likely has not had any use for a lawyer and doesn't think much about it right now.  Creating a will or crafting an estate plan is not on their radar.  They are unlikely to be developing a business in need of legal advice.  They may seek out an attorney after a car accident or if they get into some criminal trouble, but overall, they may not be the target market for many attorney right now.

But they will be.  In a decades or two, this generation will be hiring lawyers for a wide range of issues, from real estate needs and landlord disputes to bankruptcy matters and disability benefits.  How will these people BOTH find possible lawyers and decide which one to call?

They will look online, of course.  That's a given.  Their lives are consumed by social networks, search, and free information sources.  If you are even reading this blog post it means you must be aware that billboards, yellow pages, and even things like traditional TV commercials are (perhaps slowly) fading in importance.  

Understanding this reality is required but not sufficient to best position yourself to be seen by these clients of the future.  You need to not only position yourself to be seen by these clients online (SEO does this), but you must also figure out a way to convert them to actual clients.  It is here where blogs are pivotal.

The truth is that today's twenty year old expects to find helpful information provided to him immediately by those whose services he or she may utilize.  Visiting a website with contact information is one thing, but if that website provides little besides a phone number, email, and biography, then the potential client is far less likely to take the bait.  Today's twenty-year old is used to being given a wealth of useful, interesting, and timely information immediately.  Those who do not provide it are far less likely to ever get a dime of business from the twentysomething. 

This applies to a wide range of products and services--and legal services are no exception.  Consider a website selling camping backpacks.  One site has a neat list of all the different packs that they offer, with prices and links to order.  A competitor has the same neat product list.  But they also have a dynamic website that provides useful information on a wide range of topics: discussions about the new, stronger material being developed for these products, a list of the top 10 best weekend hikes, summaries about celebrities using certain packs, and more.  The latter company is going to get the business 85% of the time.  Because the online searcher will be spending significantly more time on that website.

It is important for law firms to accept that the client of the future will absolutely demand useful information from a potential attorney before calling.  Law firm blog writing provides that information.  The earlier you start committing to this essential part of your online storefront, the better.

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