Content marketing is an extremely effective tool for businesses of all kinds. However, for many law firms, especially those that are still new to digital marketing, the idea of regularly producing original content is overwhelming. It’s no wonder. Content marketing requires a significant investment of time and resources. The reality is that it doesn’t really make sense for every law firm to create a robust and diversified content marketing program with everything from blog articles to white papers and podcast episodes.
But that doesn’t mean that some law firms are off the hook entirely from developing (or producing) content. There is one type of content that all law firms should be creating: case studies.
Case studies represent your law firm’s best opportunity to advertise its successes in a way that is direct, compelling, and effective. Here’s what you need to know about this important type of content.
What are Case Studies and What Makes Them Effective?
A case study is a results-focused summarization of a professional win — or any situation in which your firm’s representation of a client results in a favorable outcome.
Case studies make for effective marketing because they are a form of proof. Any business can make claims about the quality of work they do. With case studies, businesses can back up those claims with real-life outcomes and the benefits they have produced.
There are no hard-and-fast rules about how to write a case study. Some businesses opt for long-form copy, while others keep it brief and to the point. The good news is that case studies don’t need to be a major undertaking. This isn’t an article for the Harvard Law Review; just 300-500 words will do at a minimum (of course, longer is fine, too).
More important than the word count is that you structure your case studies so that they clearly demonstrate:
- The client’s problem
- Your firm’s unique approach to solving it
- The outcome
- The benefits to the client (or, in the case of precedent-setting legal work, to those affected)
From a content marketing standpoint, case studies are more evergreen than most other types of content. While the average blog posts may only be relevant for a year or two at most, case studies retain their usefulness as long as they still fairly represent the work you currently do. This means that any case studies you produce should remain relevant for quite a long time. While it’s good to refresh case studies now and then, you can expect each case study you produce to have a long shelf life, making it well worth the effort to produce.
Why Case Studies Make Sense for Your Law Firm
Your website should form the foundation of your law firm’s marketing efforts. Whether you invest in it or not, your website is almost certainly the first place prospective clients go to try and learn about your firm.
Prospective clients who visit your site generally want to know three things about your law firm:
- The areas in which your firm specializes
- The caliber of clients your firm represents
- Whether or not your firm can be trusted to achieve the results they are hoping to achieve
Case studies should be considered foundational content for law firms because they help to simultaneously answer all three of those questions.
After all, case studies demonstrate the type of work your law firm does (and should strategically be produced for each of your firm’s areas of expertise). They also let your prospects know about the sorts of clients you represent — not in theory but in actual practice. Case studies name names. (But not to worry; if the work your firm does is more personal or sensitive in nature, there are still ways to utilize case studies to your advantage.)
Finally, the decision to hire legal help can be fraught with anxiety. Many prospects naturally approach the hiring process with a healthy dose of skepticism about the law firms they are assessing. That’s because legal representation is often high stakes. Clients know they have a lot on the line, whether personally or professionally (or both). They must be able to trust their legal team to steer them in the right direction. But the nature of legal work means that prospects can’t know truly how well a legal team will represent them until they’ve made the hire. In that sense, selecting a legal team is much like choosing a doctor or an auto mechanic. Until the right results are achieved, the relationship is built primarily on trust — trust that the doctor or mechanic or lawyer is both a best-in-class expert and acting in their clients’ best interests.
Case studies automatically instill trust in prospective clients because they are on-the-record examples of your firm’s achievements. They are also fact-checkable, which naturally gives them more weight than unproven claims (even ones that are true).
Another reason case studies are so useful is that they allow you to subtly and strategically underscore your firm’s overall positioning. For example, if your firm’s positioning is around being trial-ready, then your case studies can be cherry-picked to demonstrate the truth of your positioning. Or, if your firm is under-recognized in a particular area in which you hope to grow, you can intentionally produce more case studies about your work in that under-recognized area.
Getting Started with Case Studies
If you’re just getting started with case studies, plan to start by producing a batch of two to three. It would look odd to have just one case study on your firm’s website, so hold off on publishing any one case study until you have at least two ready to go.
Be strategic about which examples of your firm’s work you showcase in these case studies. Keep the following factors and types of cases in mind as you make your selections:
- Your firm’s positioning
- Your firm’s areas of expertise
- The areas in which your firm hopes to grow
- Your firm’s big-picture marketing goals
- Cases that garner public attention or media coverage
- Cases with historic import (such as a Supreme Court case)
- Cases including high-profile clients
- Cases including high-profile staff
You should start with two to three case studies, but ultimately you should shoot to have three to six case studies on your website over the long term. It’s a good idea to review your case studies on a quarterly basis and refresh them as needed. Producing one new case study per quarter is both ambitious and doable. Depending on your internal resources, you might consider hiring an external writer to craft your case studies for your firm.
When you publish the case studies to your website, consider ways to relate your case studies to other, relevant sections on your website. For example, you might include links to related practice areas or the biographies of the lawyers who worked on each case.
Once you’ve completed your case studies, you’ll want to publish them on your website and share them on LinkedIn and any other social platforms your firm regularly uses.
The case studies that your firm produces will play an important role in reassuring your prospective clients that your law firm has the right mix of expertise and experience to meet their legal needs.