As originally seen on Forbes
For the past decade, marketers have been unified in their belief that content marketing is crucial to generating visibility, marketing expertise, and growing business, including among professional services firms.
With this current global crisis, what has changed? The scale of it.
In a recent conversation with Adrian Lurssen, early employee at Yahoo! and co-founder of the content distribution and data platform JD Supra, we discussed the incredible sea change we are witnessing. “We’ve been seeing and saying for years that thought leadership is valuable in professional services marketing and business development. These past few months, we have seen that value show itself at scale, and very quickly. This crisis has proven beyond a question of doubt how essential thought leaders are to the world, especially at a time when everyone needs to make sense of the chaos in a crisis.”
Insight and authority for reporters and editors
Says Lurssen: “Media visibility always comes up in any conversation about the ‘ROI’ of thought leadership. Reporters search for sources and background information online. They rely on social media shares, blog posts, content published on JD Supra. Sometimes they’ll cite an existing article or post, other times what they read will spur them to contact the author for more background information. This happens with mainstream media and niche periodicals serving specific industries, from insurance to agriculture, education to cybersecurity — exactly the sort of visibility firms want among the sectors they serve. On JD Supra, we saw such engagements weekly if not daily. During this crisis, media connections spurred by thought leadership have been daily if not hourly. It's extraordinary.”
“Our clients who do this best don’t merely report the news,” says Lurssen. “They make sense of what it means - in legal or regulatory or other terms, to the people they serve as clients. Reporters and editors at NPR, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and all these major or niche publications, are also trying to make sense of the news for their readers - and the rely on the lawyers and others who are writing to guide their thinking."
Typically, in professional service thought leadership, writers are making sense of need-to-know matters. (Think of a lawyer making sense of HIPAA considerations in the workplace for an HR director at a multinational corporation during the time of a widespread pandemic.) This is essential information that people need to hear right now. Says Lurssen: "Those who are writing it are reaping the benefit of that tremendous interest."
Is supply meeting demand?
According to Lurssen, yes. “Since the start of this crisis, some firms are creating 10x more content than they were previously. Some are creating 20x more. And reader appetite for the content has grown to keep to up with it. This crisis impacts all aspects of professional and personal life and this is reflected in the immense interest in related content across the board, from insurance matters to employment considerations to even child custody.”
JD Supra distributes law firm and other professional content published on its site to subscribers and partner platforms. Editors ensure that the content is editorially categorized and organized so that it is sent to the right channels. Readers have the ability to engage with contributors directly. Interesting for Lurssen has been the tenor of this engagement.
“…from readers, a roar of gratitude”
“Before the COVID-19 crisis, we would get a real variety of questions and responses to articles. Comments like: ‘I agree,’ ‘Can we republish this in our newsletter?’ 'Can I call you?' 'Good post but I disagree with your third point…’ Now the vast majority of the messages going from readers to authors is ‘Thank you so much for your help…’ Readers across the board are desperate to make sense of this landscape. The only way I can describe their engagement with these thought leaders right now is as an absolute Roar of Gratitude.
Is it easier to get reluctant professionals to write?
Another benefit of this type of thought leadership is that it leads to speaking invitations at conferences, which itself would also help with business development and acquiring new clients. “Now that we don’t have conferences,” says Lurssen,“writing is even more of a direct line to new client engagements than it ever was. The online landscape is a safe frontier in which to show the world your particular expertise.”
JD Supra’s observations are very similar to my own at Clearview Social. We make it easy for firms and companies to get their employees sharing approved content to their individual social networks. Since COVID-19 we have experienced six straight weeks of all time high content sharing and all time high traffic to that content. Lunches, dinners, conferences, golf junkets, and retreats are all canceled. Content is having its moment in the sun, in large part because when it comes to business development it is the only game in town right now.
Is the content bringing in business?
When the content is on point, the results can be impressive and instantaneous. “Thought leadership in professional services moves the ball forward in many ways when it comes to marketing and business development. And all along there has always been the home runs: new client work coming directly from the writing. That, too, is happening rapidly. For example, recently a group of lawyers in a certain practice area wrote with a specific audience in mind (their perfect client) and the headline was clear, on-topic. They received a message back soon after publishing the piece that basically said: “This is our exact problem and we would like to hire your firm. Simple as that.”
Legal, accounting, banking, leadership, and other professional content is more valuable than gold right now because we are facing a global crisis unlike anything most of us have experienced in our lifetime. With uncertainty, people turn to their trusted advisors to help them navigate through this terrifying time. If you have the expertise to help, publish it. Get it out there, not just because it will be good for your business and your reputation, but because the world needs it now more than ever.
Clay Shirky predicted it best with the words that became the title of his 2008 prescient book on social media, “here comes everybody.”
Adrian Lurssen is the co-Founder of JD Supra. distributes long form content (articles, client alerts, blog posts, videos, and other publications) to targeted audiences around the web. With subscribers in the many hundreds of thousands, readers include in-house counsel, c-level executives, media members, and others. JD Supra clients include some of the largest law firms in the world, as well as solo attorneys and professionals in niche fields and practices.
As originally seen on Forbes