Blogging for business development vs. market promotion

Growing in popularity, blogging is attracting lawyers and law firms in droves. I often wonder how much thought goes into what the lawyer blogger really expects to achieve. I mean, a blog is a serious time commitment, requiring thoughtful planning, posting, and promotion. Setting up a blog because someone told you that it’s a great marketing tool, is not enough of a reason.

blog-microphonesmallI’ve been watching the legal blogsphere and talking to lawyer bloggers for years. When I ask them why they blog, these are four popular responses.

The blog is:

1. An article database
2. A marketing tool
3. The contents of the book I always wanted to write
4. A business development tool

It can be 1 and 2,  2 and 3, or 2 and 4, but it cannot be 1 and 4. I’ll explain why.

When you hand someone a business card, do they sign an engagement letter before having a conversation with you? No. You engage in a dialogue. That dialogue has both talking and listening. No business deal has ever been done without a conversation.

Are attorneys successfully using their blogs to start conversations that lead to new business? (If you’re one of them, tell us what you’re doing right or if you disagree with my ideas.)

A blog post that doesn’t engage the reader in a conversation is the equivalent of a newsletter or article on the firm’s web site. In fact, many blogs written by lawyers on legal topics are just that…and their blog becomes an updated version of an article database. No problem with that, it’s just that you will be disappointed if you were expecting your blog to turn up new clients.

A blog for business development purposes is going to be a blog that opens up opportunity for a conversation. For example:

1. A post that contains a detailed outline of legal developments in acquiring stimulus money is probably better off being an article in a static newsletter.
2. A post that creates a fictional scenario of a company trying to acquire stimulus dollars and leads up to a call to action such as “write the ending to this story in the comments”, or includes a mini survey for readers to fill out –are they pro or con, or an offer to “sign up for my newsletter on developments” has a better chance of becoming a conversation starter.

Blogging is a good tool to promote your practice and expertise, but don’t stop there if you want your blog to contribute to the development of new business. Promotions may help you get found, but you need a conversation to build rapport that can lead to new business. For that reason, many marketers and law firm leaders are still on the ledge about the usefulness of blogging in business development.

What do you think?

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