In today’s legal marketing landscape, establishing a practice specialty, focus, or emphasis is the most effective way to create a draw for your expertise. Becoming a known expert in a niche relevant to your target audience is how you can build credibility and focus marketing efforts in a way that makes them have the most impact.
Thought leadership, a term that includes all forms of professional writing and speaking, is the most scalable way to educate clients, prospects, referral partners, colleagues, and peers on exactly when to think of you for the distinctive value you provide.
Reasons to Incorporate Thought Leadership into Business Development Efforts
Boost your credibility. As a frequent author/speaker on a niche subject, you will position yourself as an authority. This is further amplified when you align and distribute your thought leadership through platforms your target audience respects. Early career attorneys with a shorter list of representative matters may be especially interested in the credibility built through thought leadership.
Build your reputation and online profile. Your prospects are looking for answers to questions, and the best return on investment on your marketing is when those prospects turn to the internet and your thought leadership provides insight to those answers. Further, when referred prospects inevitably conduct an internet search on you, you can make it easy for them to understand your area of expertise through a variety of links to podcast episodes, bylined articles, presentations, and media commentary about the very topic they seek. These educational pieces are also easy for contacts to forward on to decision makers.
Command a premium for your services. Professionals known for their unique expertise are less likely to compete for work based on price.
Grow your audience. Writing and speaking are great ways to expand the number of people who become familiar with your work. Internet search engines, individuals sharing articles or videos, and third-party distribution channels are all ways new prospects and contacts can find your written or recorded thought leadership.
Bolster and initiate key relationships. Most professionals are flattered to be invited to collaborate on thought leadership projects, especially if they don’t require much time and preparation on their end and can create visibility for them. Inviting someone to participate on a panel discussion, provide commentary in an article you are writing, or be a guest on your podcast are all ways you can initiate or expand a valuable professional relationship.
Improve your visibility. Creating regular and consistent thought leadership is a great opportunity to reach out to your existing target network. You can provide something of value while reminding them about you and your expertise. Increased activity leads to engagement, and better top-of-mind interactions with your target audiences lead to new opportunities.
Strengthen your expertise. Researching and developing topics is a great way to further develop your insights and understanding, deepening your expertise on a subject.
Create value. Sharing thought leadership on public platforms provides value to your clients and prospects and is also a valuable contribution to your profession.
Decide What to Focus On
Random acts of marketing are not a wise approach to business development. Determine your longer-term professional goals before getting started.
Go narrow. Select a topic to develop that demonstrates your sophistication in your practice area, even if there is limited application. If you show a high level of expertise in a complex arena, it will be assumed that you are capable of handling more commonplace issues.
Be intrigued. It is wise to choose a topic that is interesting to you, something you are excited about. To see the best results from a business development perspective, you will need to discuss a topic repeatedly; make sure you choose something you like talking about.
Collaborate. Consider working with a colleague, client, prospect, or professional in a complementary space on a marketing opportunity. When you partner with someone else on thought leadership, you can bolster your credibility through theirs, strengthen the relationship with the collaborator, gain exposure to additional networks, and lighten your workload. Plus, it is often a lot more fun to collaborate with someone who has complementary expertise.
Be consistent. Always aim for topics that are of interest to your ideal client and directly related to the type of work you want more of.
Hire assistance when needed. Consider working with a copywriter or ghostwriter. Hiring a professional legal writer to help you initiate a topic or to flesh out an outline can be a considerable time-saver and can create the momentum you need to get moving on a piece.