How Lawyers Can Benefit from the Rise of Influence Marketing

influencer-marketing-in-the-digital-agesm Nearly forty years after lawyer advertising was legalized, has it run its course? Maybe so, suggests this this article at Content Standard, which observes that:

 Somewhere between the “Mad Men”-esque glamour of the 1960s and today, advertising lost its shine. Both in the TV world and beyond, advertising is often associated with something that people endure in order to enjoy their desired activity and that inevitably interrupts the flow of their experience. Then we have the fact that advertising is frequently irrelevant. Despite great efforts to improve targeting – especially in the digital domain – there are many blanket methods in use serving ads to the masses that in reality only resonate with a fraction of people.

Now that advertising seems ubiquitous, from billboards and newspapers to music, social media and, of course, TV, consumers have reached saturation point and begun to take matters into their own hands. In August 2015, PageFair and Adobe released a report showing that ad blocking grew globally by a phenomenal 41% in the previous 12 months. Use of ad-blockers is surging as people become more frustrated with bombardment from all angles, especially when the ad content they’re being fed is at odds with the leisure activity it’s disrupting. The fact that Apple is now helping its customers escape ads with new content blocking extensions in iOS 9 should be a wake-up call for anyone in the business of selling that times must change.

With advertising on the decline, what’s the replacement for building brand and marketing products and services? The answer, at least in the business world is influencer marketing . In fact, 80 percent of marketers plan to increase their influence marketing budgets for the coming year.

So what exactly is influencer marketing? As defined by this Forbes post  influencer marketing is:

 …nonpromotional approach to marketing in which brands focus their efforts on opinion leaders, as opposed to direct target market touchpoints.

As described here:

The influencer premise is simple: Leverage a cadre of celebrities, bloggers, and industry experts to post about your brand, and expect to boost leads, brand awareness, and customer loyalty.

Although paying influencers may prove tricky as both the  FTC and Google are cracking down on influential bloggers who fail to disclose relationships or whose sole purpose is to build links, the concept of influential marketing can work well for lawyers. That’s because lawyers gain influence not from what others say about us, but from what we write and what we do.

Here’s how a lawyer might gain influence in a field, and cruise comfortably above the congested-thicket of blog posts created by third party robots and spammy social media advertising.

  1. Write informative, useful articles or posts Lawyers gain influence and authority when they write insightful and informative articles or blog posts about topics that matter to their clients. An estate planning lawyer could write about the pitfalls of using a form, or the impact of a recent decision on planning, while a bitcoin lawyer could make predictions about where the industry is heading.
  1. Spread your content Content released into a forest of content won’t be seen. So instead of simply sharing content with the usual suspects – Twitter, JD Supra or LinkedIn Pulse , how about sending a newsletter article or blog post, along with a personal note, to a few clients or contacts for whom it might be useful.
  1. Participate in Person Writing isn’t the only way for lawyers to gain influence; they ought to participate in person as well. Accept opportunities to speak – both to groups of lawyers (to reinforce your subject-matter influence with peers) as well as to your target clients.
  1. Be available to the media as a subject matter expert The news media is always looking for experts- not just on high profile criminal trials but on virtually any topic. Introduce yourself to reporters who cover stories related to your practice area and offer yourself as a resource. And timely respond to inquiries, and follow up with a thank you. That you’ve been quoted in the media can help to further build influencer status.
  1. Change the law Possibly the best way for a lawyer to catapult to influencer status is to either challenge an unjust law or change it. Some examples: Mark Bennett has become an influencer in criminalization of First Amendment protected speech , Brad Shear has helped draft laws governing social media, Marc Randazza helped enact robust SLAPP legislation in Nevada.  All are recognized as experts and influencers in their respective practice areas.

The age of advertising isn’t dead yet. To the chagrin of many lawyers, you can still spend big bucks on SEO, ad campaigns and pay per click and reel in lots of clients. Or, you can spend the time developing your expertise and cultivating your influence so that you can attract clients who appreciate what you do and attract work that’s both intellectually challenging and makes a difference. Your choice.