Content Marketing Tips for Lawyers – Interview with Shawn Manaher

| October 22, 2013

The Content Authority LogoShawn ManaherIt isn’t often you get the chance to hear candid answers from a content development professional who is already generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in the content marketing business. Today +Shawn Manaher of The Content Authority provides his no-nonsense opinion on developing content for a website in order to generate revenue.

1. What kind of content should I develop as an attorney?

Content Development for any industry or brand can easily be pulled together by focusing first on strategically determining a few things before you pull the trigger and start writing content for your blog or site.

[Develop the following three things before producing your content]

Value Proposition – A value proposition is a clear statement about the RESULTS a company, organization or individual can realize as an effect of using a product or service.

1. The reason you need to first develop this is so that your messaging to your target market is clear, concise and points to the value you bring to your readers and buyer. Therefore start by developing a value proposition.
2. You can read more on value propositions and see a template here.

Buyer Personas – A buyer persona is a fictional character that represents a member of your target market and has real character attributes associated with them.

1. Buyer personas are the best way you can imagine who your ideal reader or buyer is. After making a persona, you will be able to better understand your target market. Not doing a buyer persona for your business limits the effectiveness of the content developed and likely will result in a weaker ROI on marketing spend.
2. You can read more on buyer personas here.

keywordKeyword Strategy – Until Google creates a ‘read you mind’ algorithm (and maybe Google Glass is the forerunner for this) keywords are STILL the single greatest piece of content development a marketer needs to consider.

1. A good keyword strategy takes into account what people are searching for monthly, the amount of times terms were searched for, what trends are hot in search today, difficulty in ranking keywords and how best to position the keywords in your text-based content.
2. By focusing first on your value proposition and buyer personas, the keyword strategy becomes a much easier task to complete because you are not guessing about what your prospects and buyers are searching for. You KNOW with certainty what they are searching for.
3. You can read more about Keyword Strategy here.

(Related Article: Read about how to find keywords using the Keyword Planner.)

2. Are there better forms of content to put out there (i.e. blog, images, video) or does it not matter?

Content types are going to vary based on your industry and individuals whom you are targeting. There are some basic guidelines that a marketer should focus on: Be everything to all people where your budget allows. That is to say, make sure your site includes great imagery, amazing text content, is structured and assembled well and add video (but only if it is cost effective and within budget). Certainly every site owner would love to create a master piece that incorporates all these elements all the time… it’s not going to happen… But if you can consistently produce high quality written text content, in time, you can add the others.

3. What are some of the most important considerations when coming up with a content strategy?

If you follow the 3 core areas of VP, BPs and KS above you will get pretty far when it comes to creating a Content Strategy that makes sense for your business.

I think that the struggle most people fall into when creating any strategy is thinking that it has to be a perfect strategy to begin with… The reality is strategy is meant to be tested, tried, measured and re-tested.  Your Content Strategy needs to be a living, breathing document, not a once and done exercise.  I recommend that if you can’t review your strategy monthly, you review it at least quarterly to check its effectiveness.

4. Is it ok to outsource my content creation?

No, I think the best way to get amazing content is to write it yourself, unless:

a. You don’t have the time
b. You don’t have the expertise
c. You don’t have the skill to write the content yourself.

Which is why content development companies like The Content Authority are able to help businesses and agencies with these problems.

success5. How can I tell if producing content for my website is working?

I used to be super excited when a blog or site of mine was getting traffic, because somehow I thought that traffic was all that was needed to see success. The reality is there are three main things to watch to determine if your content is working for you:

a. Visitors – Are you getting more visitors each month, quarter and season over the last time frame? If you are, you are heading in the right direction, but this is not where you should stop.
b. Leads – Are you converting your visitors into leads… If you don’t have mechanisms in place to capture leads, then it is imperative that you stop what you are doing and figure out how to capture visitors into leads.
c. Customers – I heard it said that 80% of all leads captured are not contacted until 72 hours after the prospect gives their information!!! Are you kidding me?!? If you are getting leads, the longest that it should take you to contact someone back is 24 hours (the shorter the better). But back on track, it is important that you measure the result of how many customers you are obtaining through your site.

6. What can I do if I have no ideas for developing content?

Think harder. Seriously, if you go through the above VP, BPs and KS work, you will be swimming in ideas for content.

7. Should I focus on making one form of content like a blog or ebooks or should I take a more holistic approach?

I think that content forms need the same treatment as content types, as discussed above. With that said here are some of my recommendations:

a. You need to decide the type of content that makes the most sense for your prospects and reader.
b. Do this by seeing what type of content your buyers typically are engaged with already. Maybe they love eBooks and consume them like crazy so write an eBook. What about whitepapers? Video testimonials? Online reviews. Wherever their content consumption is, meet them with something that makes sense.
c. Don’t be afraid to be different. Marketing is not about playing the monkey-see monkey-do game, but it is about connecting your message with a format that will engage your prospects into doing something that you want them to do.  Mix it up and surprise them with something they haven’t seen.
d. If you struggle with this, the best way to know what someone wants is to ask them. Yeah, just do a short survey of your existing client base and see what they think.  They will love to know they are having an impact on what you are doing.

wallin-and-klarich8. Are there any examples of attorneys out there that are doing this right?

I defer to Chris on this one…

While there is more than one example, a firm that is doing this very well is +Wallin & Klarich.  To highlight a specific example, their post on imputing income is a prime example of good inbound marketing using content.  For someone that may be searching for information about that topic, the post provides tons of good information.  There is also a clear call-to-action at the end of the post if the searcher happens to be at the end of the information search phase of their buying cycle.
9. If I outsourced my content creation, how much can I expect to pay?

To have a professionally written business blog you should look to pay $70 per blog post as a starting point. The rates would increase determined by the length of content and technical aspects of what is being written.

Typically with the above pricing you would expect to have included:

i. Kick Off Meeting
ii. Research & Development
iii. Keyword Research & Review
iv. Content Assessment – Grammar, spelling, structure and content accuracy
v. Content Approval – by client & internal teams
vi. Content Hand off

Yes, you can look to get less involved in the process of content development, and thereby lowering your costs, but this assumes that the marketer or agency working with a client is looking for someone helping them on multiple levels in the content development process.

10. When it comes to developing content, are there any tactics I should avoid?

Avoid low quality content that is based on hunches. Too many websites and their respective content are built from an idea that was doomed to fail from the beginning. Today with as much data available to marketers, agencies, and businesses, you DON’T have to guess what people want. Just do the work necessary to create a clear strategy and you should be well on your way to having a successful content development plan.