The Byrne Blog

John Byrne Communicating About Communications

Lonely Legal Marketer in a Crowd

Next week, I will be in Cleveland (yes, Cleveland!) at a conference called “Content Marketing World.”  More than 2,500 people will be gathering to impart knowledge and share wisdom on just about every aspect of content marketing there is.  And I just might be the only legal marketer in the whole convention center.

Why is that?  Well, probably because of the vast amount of educational offerings focused on marketing consumer products.  In fact, I’m proud to say that one of the keynote speakers, Julie Fleischer, is a good friend and neighbor of mine (Hi, Julie!).  She runs content marketing for Kraft, and in addition to winning Content Marketer of the Year last year, as awarded by the Content Marketing Institute, she has offered here and here what I think are some very compelling ideas for folks who are trying to promote and sell legal services using content marketing.

There is plenty of programming at Content Marketing World for B2B folks, of course, and I’m even attending a post-conference session targeted specifically at content marketing in the professional services industry.  Still, I find myself looking most forward to hearing from the consumer marketers.  But, sadly, I might be the loneliest legal marketer in Cleveland for a few days…

Again, why?  Because I can hear it now from some in the legal marketing world:  It’s just not the same, you’re wasting your time.  Lawyers and law firms are different.  We don’t have anything to learn from B2C folks.  Sure, there are some key differences between B2C and B2B marketing.  And even within the professional services marketing area, the legal profession has its quirks and singular peccadilloes (advertising ethics rules, anyone?).  For the sake of all of our futures in the legal marketing biz, though, it’s long overdue for us to focus much less on those differences and much more on our vast similarities to B2C marketing so that we can do a better job than we’re currently doing.

To begin with, let’s look at some of the challenges that all content marketers face, legal or not:

A lack of understanding.

A lot of people don’t realize what content marketing is and what can do and not do.  My friend John Miller of Scribewise just wrote a very compelling blog post that helps outline this.

A lack of quality.

This should speak for itself, but here’s an interesting take on it from someone serving the higher education field.

A lack of longevity or sustainability.

Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.  But try explaining that to senior managers brought up to revere advertising campaigns and/or who constantly look to produce short-terms gains at the cost of long-term improvements.

An underdeveloped distribution network.

CRM, anyone?  It isn’t just law firms who can’t seem to get their act together on this particularly vital aspect of marketing and business development.  And how about the sometimes very unsatisfying performance and volatility of social media?  This is an area that needs much more exploration.  (Future blog post to come on this?  You bet!)

A lack of alignment with strategy, for sales or anything else.

Of course, that assumes there is a strategy at work.  A lot of content marketing seems aimless: to borrow a phrase, lots of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  Content marketing for content marketing’s sake doesn’t work.

A lack of good metrics.

I’m the last person to jump in the data pool with the numbers freaks out there, but to align with strategy, you need to measure what you’re doing.  But that measurement has to be relevant and useful.  To repeat a theme here, measurement for measurement’s sake is pointless.

There are other challenges for content marketing, of course.  Feel free to share them in the comments.

Notice how I didn’t state lack of buy-in.  I get the overwhelming sense that most people in business, including lawyers, understand that in today’s economy they need to communicate much more with their clients, customers, prospects and even the world at large.  Using content marketing as a tool for that communication is a no-brainer.  It’s a really exciting time to be a content marketer, no doubt.  Given all that, you would think there would be a plethora of legal marketers attending Content Marketing World.  Well, maybe next year.

I’m really looking forward to hear some of the speakers at Content Marketing World address these challenges and offer their solutions.  I expect to come back with my head overstuffed with ideas and plans and great thoughts about content marketing.  Along the way — and long after I leave Cleveland — I will be sharing all the great advice and best practices that I hear.  If you want to receive updates to my blog via email, please sign up using the box up top.  If you’ll be at Content Marketing World in Cleveland next week, shoot me an email and let’s try to meet!

2 thoughts on “The Loneliest Legal Marketer at Content Marketing World? Not for Long, I Hope

  1. Josh Coffy says:

    No way! Guess who lives 45 mins from Cleveland? This guy.

    I agree. There’s a TON to content marketing, and like you said, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, content marketing can work. I’ve seen in done in the most RANDOM of industries.

    Love it!


    P.S. If you’re down, I’d love to meet up for lunch/dinner/coffee, John!

    1. John Byrne says:

      Josh: would love to meet in Cleveland. Will email you offblog.

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