Few of us in law firm marketing want to touch them. The long lists of long descriptions of the services we offer. Because of their sheer number and length, we rarely touch them -- from our old sites to our new sites or anywhere else for that matter. Would it make more sense to offer our visitors content that they'll read -- maybe even eagerly -- that relates in interesting and engaging ways to what we do as lawyers and law firms?
Robert Algeri is trying on a great new idea. He’s making the rounds in the law firm marketing sector suggesting a more engaging, manageable and client-oriented way to present services and industry content.
He’s suggesting that law firm marketers deploy long-form content from their firms — on-line and elsewhere — organized according to a highly strategic handful of emerging issues. That we shift our focus, energies and resources away from the typically long lists of long descriptions of what we do, written with apparently little regard for how our sites’ visitors think or what they want.
One of Robert’s stops was last month in Boston. He and I talked with members of the New England chapter of the Legal Marketing Association about creating content marketing that works.
He began by describing the obvious. Robert reminded us that giving users 40 to 70 pages of practice group or industry service descriptions is unlikely to work the way it’s intended. To put it mildly.
First, it’s unlikely that you’ll get anyone (maybe even me!) to create 40 to 70 pages, as Robert likes to put it, of “amazing content.” The kind that will engage and hold a visitor’s attention.
Next, think about the logistical wringer through which we put ourselves when we embark on this path. Think of the approval process and the involvement of practice group members and the tight rope we walk when we try to be so many things to so many people.
Then think about your visitors. Your typically lazy, selfish and ruthless visitors, to paraphrase Jakob Nielsen. The ones who see a long, long, long list of links to a bunch of legal practice areas that mean little to nothing to them. The ones who very most likely take a pass on the whole thing rather than take the time to find their needle in your haystack. (It’s called Cognitive Impenetrability.)
Instead, Robert proposes that we limit ourselves to a small number of topics (say, six) that are engaging by default. He calls them emerging issues and defines them as…
- Poorly understood
Think, for example, about surveillance and privacy rights. Or, what can be done to fix/improve our schools. You get the idea.
I’ll add a fourth filter. Your emerging issues are strategic topics that capture what your lawyers and firms do. Emerging issues that relate to at least some of the transactional or litigation-related services you offer.
Mind you, your emerging issues aren’t intended to showcase your bench or experience. They’re meant to be read and to brand you as a leader. As a bunch of smart, engaged people who are paying attention the world around them.
One more thing. Adding an emerging issues tab on your site isn’t an either/or thing. Consider adding one or two of three or more emerging issue pages over time as a way to get your toe wet and begin to transition your resources away from your lists of service and industry descriptions.
Check your web stats. Your visitors already tend to ignore them.