This post is specifically for criminal defense lawyers as I have been spending a lot of time recently working with some really good ones. I wanted to crystalize my thinking on content strategy and chose them as a good usage case since their situation is fairly unique. That said this strategy framework applies to all businesses and I use it effectively every day.
Laying the Groundwork and Establishing the Market
When I start working with a new client I like to sit down and game plan how we are going to help grow their business. In some cases, identifying a target audience is easy like when working with an Air Conditioning company. In that case, it’s generally a question of narrowing the market down to niche groups and then choosing which ones to go after first.
For other clients, it is the opposite and things start narrow and we have to work to a wider market. I have found that with criminal defense lawyers this is the case. When we sit down the lawyer starts off saying something like: “I want to get everyone who has a DUI to call me”. If we look at the Governors DUI stats for 2011 and 2012 that means we are looking at 27k to 32k people a year. Once you subtract out the people who cannot afford a private lawyer and then the ones who have a friend or family member who is a lawyer that number probably drops considerably. In a state of over 6 million people that is the definition of finding a needle in a haystack and it also means that the competition for that demographic is going to be very high. Instead, I suggest that we widen the net and try to find ways to capture more audience attention.
Framework makes Explanation Easier
Yesterday Avinash Kaushik got deep into thinking about frameworks and specifically how a See, Think, Do Framework can help you create a unique and comprehensive view of your marketing efforts. His reason for coming up with this framework was based on three problems he wanted to solve for:
- We talk the customer centricity game, but we rarely walk it.
- We don’t think about our marketing expansively enough. In addition to being worrisome, this also makes me mad because there is so much opportunity out there and we are squandering it.
- We (oh how I hate this) apply irrational and “narrow-view” measurement strategies toward understanding what is successful and what’s not. Since you are what you measure, if you mess this up, you mess up what’s good and what’s bad and what’s gloriously good.
Based on these problems he devised the See, Think, Do Framework that then revolves around three strategies:
In this post I am staying focused on the Content Strategy and will create follow up posts on Marketing and Measurement.
See Think Do Stage Breakdown
See – Visitors are reading and consuming the content that you are creating.
Think – Visitors are sharing and commenting on the content that you create.
Do – Visitors are buying your product or service based on what they have read.
The point of this post is to break this framework down for a criminal defense lawyer’s Content Strategy so that you can see how your audience is much larger than just people who have been arrested and need a lawyer. If you are just focused on sales then you are only targeting the Do stage and missing the See and Think stages. While you want people to hire you you also need to understand that there are more people who don’t need your services right now so it is important to reach out to them as well. By engaging a larger audience the criminal defense lawyer creates a situation where more people are aware of your expertise and are more likely to either use you service directly or refer you to someone else to you in the future.
One way to revamp the breakdown above around a criminal defense lawyer’s practice might look something like this:
See – People who are interested in Law.
Think – People who are interested in Law and think you know what you are talking about.
Do – People who are interested in the Law and think you know what you are talking about and have been arrested or know someone who has.
Let’s take a look at the three strategies to see how this plays out.
Content Strategies for See Think and Do
Seeing the Content
First things first, you want to create content that is focused on people who have been arrested and are either looking for a lawyer or are not sure they need one yet. You want to create practice specific content, for example, that discusses what a DUI charge in Arizona is and what the potential penalties are, but you also want to take this one to two steps further and list specific case successes (accurately but anonymously of course) and client testimonials (once again anonymously and in this case with permission) so that potential clients can see specifically how you have already helped people with the same or similar situations. Stopping here, however, is a mistake that many make and consequently lose out on a much larger audience and potential client and/or referral base.
In the US there is an epidemic of biblical proportions when it comes to the consumption of content dealing with the legal justice system. From Nancy Grace to Law and Order to Michael Crichton books, Americans love to read and hear about crime, criminals, and justice. As a criminal defense lawyer you have an endless list of topics to discuss that people are fascinated about from any level of description you want to take as well. What I mean here is that your audience is not only everyday people who want to know if they can get a DUI on a bicycle but also other lawyers who want to know how to handle various DUI defenses in court. At this stage your content is not focused on gaining a client but on letting people know about your firm grasp of the law.
The important thing is to get beyond the view that you only want to talk to people who have been arrested and need representation. Now you have the general law news junkie, other lawyers in various practice areas, journalists, paralegals, bondsman, private investigators, policemen, judges, prosecutors, and the list can go further. Create one piece of content for each of these people once a month and you already have 9 blog posts a month!
The main take away is that instead of creating content for a few clients you are reaching thousands upon thousands of readers which leads us to the Think stage.
Thinking about Content
At the think stage readers are going to be commenting on your blog or sharing your post on any number of social networks. You should make it easy for them to do this by allowing comments and adding buttons that make it easy to share on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and anywhere else you want to spend time interacting with people.
If they have been arrested or know someone who has they are not going to publicly comment that they have. This is where you want to create content that they can take with them and review. One idea is to create a list of questions to ask when hiring a criminal defense lawyer and answering them on your website. Then create a downloadable PDF of just the questions but with your logo and contact information and suggest that they print it out and take it with them if they talk to another lawyer. Now you have empowered them with knowledge and hard hitting questions to ask and also put your name and contact information in front of them while they talk with another lawyer.
There is a good bet that none of the people who leave public comments will be potential clients since not many people want their friends to know they have been arrested (but people do silly things on the internet all the time, so be prepared). Instead count on these people being other lawyers who have found a benefit from the information you provided and want to share it with other lawyers. Or maybe you hit a nerve with someone and they want to talk with you via the comments.
The take away here is that you are giving people opportunity to interact with you without having to become a client of yours. Monitor your social networks and comments once a day and reply to the intelligent comments. There will be spam and trolls. Remember: Never feed the trolls. This is where you will begin to build the referral network of people that consider you an expert and will only think of your name first when someone has a criminal defense issue. Which leads us to the Do content.
Doing something with the Content
When someone has either been arrested or knows someone who has been they are now going to now pay attention to the Do content that you have created. This is where you have listed your phone number prominently next to a bright bold ‘Free Consultation’ button that takes them to a very simple contact form requiring just their name, phone, email, and specific practice type (which you have made a simple drop down with a list of options). As an option there is a message box where they can fill in whatever additional details they think are relevant, but really you just want their phone number so you can call and talk with them about their case.
Once you have talked with them and they are a client you can get their address, height, weight, astrology sign, and favorite color. Until then none of that matters so don’t create a 14 item form asking for it. Keep it simple and remove all barriers to entry. You want to talk to as many people as possible and then weed out the ones who have a legitimate case and can pay for your services.
Next Steps: Marketing and Measurement
In the next two posts I will discuss taking your message to the masses with marketing and then measuring your actions to find out what works and what does not. In the meantime you should be reviewing who you are focused on marketing to and see if there is a way of expanding to a larger audience.
Avinash Kaushik is a genius marketer with a focus on Analytics and measuring data as opposed to guesses or feelings when it comes to marketing. If you haven’t picked up one of his web analytics books you should get them now: Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity
and Web Analytics: An Hour a Day. They will teach you more about online marketing than you can shake a stick at, or something.
Disclaimer: The links to Avinash’s books are affiliate links so if you click on them and buy something I will get some change.