Quite a few law firm marketing professionals inquire about ways to promote and market the firm’s law blogs. My response has always been that the best way to ‘market’ a blog, if you want to call it that, is to give of yourself as a lawyer and engage your target audience. None the less, some firms will want to do more. But is it worth it? Author and well known marketer, Seth Godin, writes this morning about “The short head, the long tail and buying expensive scaffolding.”
The magic of the long tail is that it’s open to everyone. The danger in overinvesting in the hype machine and the turboboost of outbound marketing is that it may just distract you from what actually creates viral videos, hit books and freelancers in high demand: genuine excitement from a core group that won’t rest until they tell their friends
Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, coined the concept of The Long Tail in October, 2004.
The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.
As depicted the Long Tail Marketplace looks like this. Law blogs, especially ones well focused by locale and niche are out on the long tail. And that’s okay, you’re not expecting everyone at Walmart to subscribe. Per Godin, how much do you want to spend for scaffolding to try to climb up the left side of the tail?
Today, it’s easier than ever to put your work into the world. Easier to have a blog, to share your technology, to sing your songs, to connect, with no middlemen. So, the question is: how much should you give away/pay for the scaffolding that promises to take you over the hump to the other side of the tail? …… My take is that the benefit for winner-take-most markets is that anything you can do that realistically increases your chances of being the winner is a smart move–unless (double emphasis intended) the cost decreases your opportunity to do it again soon, or the compromises you’re required to make undermine the very excitement you’re trying to create.
As a law firm I don’t think you ought to be expending big energy, time, and expense on marketing blogs. One, your efforts are unlikely to produce a ‘big winner’ (which should be measured by business development success). And two, achieving ‘law blog success,’ is accomplished by a lawyers engaging their target audience with a well written blog over the long haul. Invest your marketing department’s time and energy in coaching your lawyers on how to network through the net by blogging. If your team has not blogged for networking, you may wish to hire outside help. Paying for outside help will do more for your ultimate blog goal of business development success than marketing an inferior blog — and perhaps a blog that hurts you. Bottom line, go for the long tail with no marketing. It can serve you well. It has me. Who else was going to write on blogs for lawyers over 9 years ago?