Pick a niche! We hear this rallying cry often in conversations about how to succeed at thought leadership in professional services — and rightly so.
When you focus your writing on a specific topic, it typically means you also focus attention on the needs of a specific audience. In the online landscape, that's a very good idea.
As it happens, in the world of law firm and professional services marketing and business development, often this also means a focus of energies around growing a specific practice group (by definition a niche) or, at the very least, a new service offering within the firm that combines established practices with emerging opportunities.
Three JD Supra Client Examples
1. Cannabis and IP: In coverage of the first patent filed for a variety of marijuana, a reporter at Cannabis Business Times references and links to analysis of the case written by two Sterne Kessler attorneys, mentioning the firm and both authors by name ("Sterne Kessler attorneys Pauline Pelletier and Deborah Sterling wrote...").
A sentence appears at the end of Pauline Pelletier's BIO on the Sterne Kessler firm website that I suspect would not have been there a few years ago: "She also counsels clients in emerging and regulated industries, including cannabinoid therapeutics." Indeed. As evidenced by her writing.
2. Cannabis and Communications Law: Industry publication L.A. Cannabis News republishes, with credit, a Seyfarth analysis of how the industry must contend with TCPA class actions during COVID-19. One of the authors of this piece is Stanley Jutkowitz; and written on his BIO on the Seyfarth website: "As the leader of the firm's cannabis law practice, Stan keeps up with the evolving law, and works with clients on corporate transactions and business counseling in the cannabis space."
Yes, he does. As evidenced by the above piece, among others, and its selection for additional visibility by a publication within the industry he serves.
3. Cannabis and Banking: The VP of Government Relations at popular platform Weedmaps shares on Twitter analysis and commentary on taxation in the marijuana space by a group of Locke Lord attorneys. Opening sentence of the BIO for one of those authors: "Irina Dashevsky is a Senior Counsel in Locke Lord’s Chicago office and Co-Chair of the Firm’s Cannabis Industry Group." Naturally.
Sometimes the social share is on LinkedIn, as here when a (new) financial services company in the Cannabis industry shares a perfectly on-topic post written by Burns & Levinson attorney, Katrina Skinner. ("...an experienced attorney and subject matter expert in the financial services industry for banking legal cannabis-related businesses.")
(Not merely limited to an emerging industry such as Cannabis, the daily examples on JD Supra are endless, across many practice and industry groups, new or established. For example recently: Sands Anderson linked in a NYT op-ed; Holland & Knight on MSN Money Wise; Tarter Krinsky in National Real Estate Investor.)
Your Content's Impact In the Marketing & BD Funnel
With every media pickup in a niche, industry, or mainstream periodical, you are generating Awareness of the existence of a service offering within your firm.
We have seen extraordinary visibility generated over the last several years for new and emerging practices around blockchain, cybersecurity, cryptocurrency, cannabis (as shown above); but the principle holds also for established practices in which authors are responding to reader need.
I included a handful of social shares because that's when individual readers show themselves — and you are no longer simply talking about mass, aggregate (and important) awareness, but now Interest: actual engagement with distinct people. This is why reporting social shares (including LinkedIn) is so important to JD Supra analytics.
This type of engagement with your content moves readers down the funnel. Among other things, here is where we see people motivated by their own interest to contact the firm or authors to discuss their issues. Or, at other times, they invite authors to join webinars or write for their own publications. Or, authors reach out: "Thank you for sharing my article, let's connect on LinkedIn."
I obviously can't show you the individual contributor contacts our clients receive daily as readers follow up on their publications, but that is when Interest becomes Engagement: CEOs, Compliance Officers, entrepreneurs, human resource professionals, small business owners, reporters, editors, and anyone else facing an issue that requires expertise, advice, and service. We see it daily.
The Secret Sauce
Many of the firms who are especially good at developing content to introduce the world to a new practice group or service offering use data to align their content with actual reader interest.
They rely on Beacon Insights reports covering specific industries or subject areas that help them to see, across the entire JD Supra platform, what readers actually care about in that space. Instead of guessing at what readers might want, they build content schedules around proven interest.
Additionally, some also opt to publish their content in practice group profiles (today, as I write this, the MoFo Life Sciences group launched on JD Supra, joining twelve other of the firm's practice groups publishing on the site).
And, of course, all reflect the power of niche focus when it comes to driving awareness, interest, engagement, and business growth with content online.
Paul Ryplewski is VP of Client Services at JD Supra