The holy grail of marketing is thought leadership. More and more often, the desire to be seen as a ‘thought leader’ comes up in conversation with our clients. From a content strategy perspective, law thought leaders need three key things.
Thought leadership is more than expertise. It is the position of being someone who can change the way people think about something. You lead the thought-scape in a field.
This has a major impact on your content and communications strategy. Here are three things that Law’s thought leaders need to have in place.
1. Law Thought Leaders Need Good Systems
Being able to position yourself (or your firm) as a thought leader requires you:
- to have the time and flexibility to think and write
- to have content creation/curation systems in place, and functioning well
- to have friction-free processes for decision-making and approval
- to have outstanding, user-friendly, accurate, and up to date digital assets
- to have the capacity and resources to engage in research (or the budget for outsourcing it); even if it’s drilling your own data, you need that capacity!
2. Law Thought Leaders Need Effective Distribution
When you consider that you can only be a thought leader by the designation of others, you then need to think about how you are going to get the recognition you need. Is that recognition:
- Internal, among your team?
- At stakeholder and board level?
- At client level?
- In the level of your greater network?
For each of these elements, where do you need to be? How do you distribute your intelligent and well-researched material? Who is going to care about the trends you are identifying?
And are you courageous enough to be opinionated?
3. Law Thought Leaders Need Good Publishing Practise
From a ‘what do I need to create’ perspective, there are a lot of standard things you can do. These include articles, blogs, case studies, whitepapers, reviews (of books, films, documentaries, events, other people’s cases, political events). But they also include webinars, speaking tours, conferences, slides, videos of your own, podcasts, ebooks, hardcopy books, training courses… There’s a lot of work in making it happen.
If you choose to distribute your work largely digitally, you have to have the capacity to make it easy for people to find. Sure, you need it optimised. But you also need excellent taxonomy, so that your search function works without a glitch. You need an easy way into the material, from every possible entry-point on your site.
Needless to say, all of it has to be relevant.
And you need the ability, resources, or systems in place, to review the material regularly, know when things need to be updated, and prevent duplicates.
It becomes, you will note, very difficult to place a generalist law firm in a position of thought leadership. There are certainly ways you could do it — but it wouldn’t necessarily be in Law. Perhaps it would be in practice management, instead.
Striving for thought leadership is a great way to get your content strategy frameworks in place. When the back-end strategy is mapped, and your systems are functioning, it makes your ability produce what you need to produce easier, cleaner, and less stressful.