Magazine article Strategies: The Journal of Legal Marketing

10 Ways to Be Part of Today's Content Revolution: Whether You're Marketing Toothpaste or Legal Services, Content Has Become the Way to Go. Here's Why-And How

Magazine article Strategies: The Journal of Legal Marketing

10 Ways to Be Part of Today's Content Revolution: Whether You're Marketing Toothpaste or Legal Services, Content Has Become the Way to Go. Here's Why-And How

Article excerpt

For several years, the word "content" has dominated conversations in marketing circles. Recognizing this, the Custom Publishing Council changed its name to the Custom Content Council (CCC) and launched a magazine covering the products its members were producing called, not surprisingly, Content. Not long afterwards, the CCC's British equivalent, the Association of Publishing Agencies, became the Content Marketing Association. At a growing number of brands, chief marketing officers have been retitled chief content officers, lending credence to the claims of the six-year-old Content Marketing Institute that this will soon be the title of choice among marketers.

What's fueled this revolution is a growing understanding that useful, accessible information sells a brand--whether that brand is toothpaste or a law firm--more easily and more successfully than slogans and hype. "Show" has surpassed "tell" as the operating mantra, and everyone has gotten into the act. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the recent growth of "native advertising," a form of content creation and distribution (largely electronic) that harks back to advertorials and infomercials, but in a format that is more clearly designed to appear "native" to the environment in which it is housed.

This revolution, of course, has not come without concern. Early forays into content marketing by law firms brought a sharp rebuke from several bar associations, which demanded not only clear but (to marketers) intrusive lettering that suggested that the content was little more than conventional advertising. This past December, the FTC convened a standing-room only conference to look closely at what it called the "blurred lines" exposed by native advertising, the object being to help the agency determine whether regulations were needed. In this case, content--that is, branded content--appears to have prevailed. The demand for overt labeling of free-standing content has been muted. And the FTC left the conference saying it was convinced that marketers, publishers and branded content consumers understood the opportunities that content marketing affords them and the responsibilities they have to make sure they use this evolving platform honestly, transparently and for the benefit of all parties.

Though this revolution has resulted in a surfeit of content, it has also resulted in a refinement of the form. Good content is better than ever. Discerning readers are not only learning more about the topics that interest them, but also about the brands that are providing them with this useful information.

The trick, though, is making sure that the content is, in fact, good, useful, informative and accessible. More than that, it's making sure that the intended audiences actually see the content. Here are 10 key principles that legal marketers might consider as they look to take advantage of the benefits wrought by the content revolution.

1. Develop a content strategy. It's not enough to commit to content. You need to know why you're producing it, whom you're producing it for, where you're distributing it and how that content will benefit your firm and those who read it. Content is no longer a tactic--it's a strategy.

2. Give away part of the store. Clever ads and press releases touting wins might capture attention, but they don't tell much of a story. They don't differentiate firms. They don't showcase smarts and expertise. Content does, but only if it goes past the surface to provide interesting information that is not available in every other firm's "client alerts."

3. Use all available channels. Studies have demonstrated that consumers of content look for information anywhere and everywhere. They read magazines, scour websites, follow tweets, scan blogs, click on e-newsletters, watch videos, tune in to webinars and attend conferences--and often they do many of those activities simultaneously. It's a maxim of advertising that frequency drives effectiveness. …

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