Although it’s a question usually left unspoken, staff in professional services firms often assume article writing is just part of their training to write readable advice, learn more about their practice area, or is a more productive use of time when there’s no matter to work on.
However there are four considerably more important reasons why fee earners should write articles – and understanding these reasons encourages people to write more than if they think article writing is mainly training-related.
1. Show don’t tell
Demonstrating your knowledge beats telling people you have it every time.
It’s more personal as writing articles gives you the opportunity to show you speak plain English rather than Legalese and rings truer, especially if you can incorporate stories based on cases for example.
Readership surveys done by Mondaq also show that more than 60% of readers say articles influence their choice of firm – if a key part of your service delivery is going to be written advice it does makes sense that prospective clients would be influenced by your articles. At Magnifirm we see this duly reflected in firms’ website analytics data – by direct clicks from lawyer profiles to articles written by that lawyer.
Furthermore, when people choose a lawyer, brand recognition is the second most important factor in their buying decision – they’re more likely to choose a firm they’ve heard of from articles than a completely unknown firm.
2. The decline of interrupt marketing
The average person is exposed to 5000 brands a day through the built environment, web and other media.
And with always-on mobile devices delivering 24×7 mail and messaging, along with podcasts, myriads of media channels and social apps, there are even more competing choices for people’s attention, all of them easily accessible.
So if you can’t easily interrupt potential buyers you need to offer them something more substantive like articles to get and retain their attention – in the first month that prospective B2B buyers are investigating solutions less than 30% will actually talk to your firm:
B2B buyers are still largely operating under the radar, gathering intelligence on their options and forming opinions long before they are filling out any forms or talking with a salesperson. (DemandGen 2017 Buyer’s Report)
3. Search engines are key to new prospects discovering your firm
When people are searching for information it’s a good indication they actually have a problem you can help with as an adviser.
However 74% of the time new prospects searching, who don’t know about you, will first land on an article on your website (with search overall being responsible for 60-70% of professional services firms’ website traffic in the analytics data we see). Google ranks substantive, fresh articles more highly than slow-to-change practice group profiles or bios so articles tend to top the search rankings for legal terms.
Search also accounts for the majority of a prospect’s time in the buying cycle. According to IDG:
56% of a prospect’s time in the buying cycle is spent searching for and engaging with content with only 21% being conversations with your firm.
We also know from our website analytics work that your top articles will keep bringing in thousands of visitors from search engines year after year after year (half or more of these top articles will be several years old).
These top articles are so important that we refer to them as golden articles and though it’s a whole other subject, they can act as launchpads to further build your presence in a particular practice area by building a cluster of articles on a particular topic.
4. Articles can be used to test-market new practice niches, and monitor market interest in existing practice areas
While many professional service firms tend to think about their websites as electronic brochures they’re also a window on the outside world – as your website’s analytics monitors the market’s interest in each and every article you write 24 hours a day.
Reporting on interest in particular articles by regions, companies and other key metrics is actually your professional services firm’s largest source of objective market intel (drop us a line to see a recommended reporting template for your firm using sample data from your own website which is structured specifically for professional services firms).
So what’s the conclusion about article writing?
It’s simple. Just write. Articles don’t have to be lengthy either (this one is 793 words).
It’s a good way for you as an individual fee earner to demonstrate your skills, a good way to get people’s attention in a crowded media environment and monitor that interest, and your golden articles will keep working away for you in the background year after year.
In a nutshell think of articles as marketing automation but without the price tag, learning curve, or pesky software!