The biggest mistake legal marketers make in January
Photo by Santa Barbara / Unsplash

The biggest mistake legal marketers make in January

The number one, predictable marketing campaign that firms should avoid. Plus, five alternative content wins for January.

January’s here, and with it, the inevitable ‘New Year, New You’ marketing blitz.

 You know what I’m talking about. The family practices reminding clients this month is divorce season – tired of blazing rows over the Christmas turkey? Can’t face another holiday season with your other half?

 Or probate firms sending out prospect emails and pitching listicles to trade magazines titled ‘Why the New Year is the perfect time to update your will and LPA’.

 If this is you, stop. Take a breath. Is this the best use of your time and budget?

 As a freelance legal copywriter, I see these campaigns roll out in Q1 year after year. The blogs, the website banners, the email sequences. Guess what? They all sound the same.

 Unless you’ve got solid data (we’re talking CTR, soaring traffic, conversions, ROI analysis) from previous, very similar campaigns, or new research (a 1,000 respondent survey) backing up your strategic decisions, your money is better spent elsewhere.

 And even then, I would start a ‘Divorce Day’ campaign in December. The decision to contact a lawyer is made during the holidays, not the first working Monday in January when the email is sent.

There are so many other things you could be doing in January and February to set your marketing up for the rest of the year. Like crunching the numbers on your customer satisfaction surveys, creating new case studies or refreshing old content.

Insight and data-led content will get you more leads and more conversions than tired stereotypes.  

As a freelance copywriter working with UK-based law firms, some of my favourite work is in the early months of the year. Not when I’m asked to write ‘New Year, New You? Three reasons to talk to your children about your Power of Attorney now’, but when time and space is given to reflecting on results from the previous 12 months. That’s where the best content ideas come from.

Below, I’ve listed five easy content wins for the new year.  Of course, every marketer and every firm is different. But these are proven strategic tasks that most could take.

  1. Refresh old content
  2. Analyse the results of your client satisfaction survey
  3. Update/create new case studies
  4. Audit your Partner FAQs
  5. Plan your flagship content pieces

Refresh old content

New Year, old content? When you’re mapping out your strategy, don’t forget you already have a treasure trove of pieces you can refresh. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel.

Seen that LinkedIn meme? The one where content marketers are just date-stamping old blogs all January (hot tip: don’t include the year in your blog post URL)? It’s worth going deeper than that.

 All of the below offer a great opportunity for refreshing existing blog posts and articles:

  • Regulatory changes
  • Market fluctuations
  • Relevant data has been released since the original was written
  • You have a new case study you can add as social proof
  • New services to add
  • Declining traffic on the original piece of content.

In the first weeks of the year, when colleagues are slowly returning to work, I like to set aside an afternoon to analyse my blog analytics. You should do this too (more than once a year), so you can see when it’s time for a refresh.

If a blog that was performing well is stagnant, update it with new data, insights, infographics or opinion.

Use data from your client satisfaction survey 

Haven’t run a client satisfaction survey yet? Get on it. Though I know most of you will have wrapped this up before Christmas.

In some firms, Client Services lead the survey, in others it’s BD. Either way, you want to get your hands on the data (not just a short presentation of the findings) and use it to inform your marketing strategy for the year ahead.

These surveys are a goldmine of insights. In my experience as a freelance legal copywriter, a lot of boutique or niche firms with smaller marketing teams don’t tap into this resource enough. I can tell by how detailed the customer profiling is in the brief I receive for a complex blog, web page or white paper.

This exercise is not just about gauging satisfaction levels; it's a strategic tool that helps you better understand your clients and tailor your legal services to their evolving needs.

Understanding your clients is the most important thing to get right when content marketing. Reading through their answers and picking up on trends will help you:

  • Create campaigns that your clients will take notice of
  • Tailor your content to answer questions your audience cares about
  • Pick out key phrases to include in your copy
  • Write in your clients’ voice
  • Build long-term relationships.

Chances are your data is pretty fresh. Now is a great time to sift through it and use it to strategise for the year ahead.

Fix up your case studies

If you’re smart, you could use your client satisfaction survey to mine for some new case studies. There may be enough information to write one up, or you could find clients with nice things to say and see if they’re willing to give you a bit more of their time.

Right now? Perfect for a victory lap through the past year. Find your firm’s biggest wins and star clients, and write ultra-compelling, persuasive case studies. 

It helps to have a process for compiling case studies to get the best content, from interviewing your client and Partner through to collecting proof points that demonstrate legal acumen. If you don’t have a systematised approach to this, add it to your to-do list.

It’s also worth updating any existing case studies with any new transactions or wins from the last year. Make sure you’re creating multiple pieces of content with each case study, from online articles to social media posts, brochures and including them in email newsletters. If you don’t have time, outsource to a freelance legal copywriter.

Speak to your Partners

I recommend this approach as another easy way to come up with content ideas for the year ahead, especially for BOFU (bottom-of-the-funnel) pieces. 

Mine your Partners for gold – their top 10 client FAQs from last year. This is where the hidden gems lie.

Plus, it can help Partners ideate topic ideas for LinkedIn posts and speaking opportunities.

You could send around an email with questions, but I’d recommend a 15-30 minute discussion if you can. This way you can ask for clarification, context and follow up questions that mean you don’t have to go back and forth over email.

Plan your flagship content pieces

Call me Captain Obvious, but if you’re planning to publish any long form content this year like white papers, research reports or client updates, now is a good time to get your thinking cap on.

I get it – the first few weeks of the year before Partners and BD colleagues start knocking on your door to dictate the latest client newsletter are precious.

But starting to think about your ‘content rocks’ for the next 12 months is the fun kind of planning.

Your ‘content rocks’ are the flagship pieces of content you want to deliver this year. They’re in your marketing strategy (or you’re adding them now), aligned to your wider objectives for this year and are usually centred around thought leadership.

You probably don’t need to start developing content just yet, but it might be useful to plot out a timeline. Take your ‘rocks’ and break them down in to ‘pebbles’ and then ‘sand’. What do you need to do in the months prior to delivery to make this content the best it can be? These are your pebbles. Then your sand – what do you need to do on a weekly basis to meet your deadline?

Flagship content requires a significant investment of time and resources. Don’t waste them.

When you’re plotting your timeline, consider any key dates in your calendar, such as conferences or strategy days, and plan your delivery around them.

If you’ve already reviewed the results of your client satisfaction survey and audited your Partners’ FAQs, you’ll know what issues resonate with your target audience. Look at what content performed best last year. If you’re not ready to think about topics and themes just yet, capture your thoughts so you can refer back to them later in the year.

These pieces of content represent your firm’s values, knowledge and commitment to client service – a bit of extra planning now will set the stage for you to create impactful, value-driven content that sets your firm apart and grabs the attention of Partners.

Embrace change - it's the New Year after all

Maybe you finished your marketing strategy last December and you can’t think of anything worse than opening it back up. Maybe you’re still finessing the final tweaks before presenting it to your Partners and/or SLT. 

Either way, marketing strategies are fluid and should be flexible to change.

Obviously, you don’t want to be going off-piste every week. Objectives are important for direction and effective execution. Not to mention internal buy-in.

But if you can make a business case for tweaking the strategy (ie competitor firms are doing something similar, or you have new data to support a change in direction), go for it. Too many marketing leads are afraid to rock the boat, even if they can sense a better way.

If you'd like expert help bringing your content vision to life, please contact me.

Written by

Caroline Voaden
The biggest mistake legal marketers make in January
00:00:00 00:00:00