Why case studies belong in your law firm’s content strategy

It’s a scenario many legal marketers will find familiar: An attorney shares the details of a fantastic courtroom win. He is, shall we say, excited. “The world needs to know now!” he booms.

The communications team dutifully notifies the media and sits back to wait for coverage. But then … crickets. Silence. Nada.

The world, it turns out, could live without knowing about the win.

Dear marketer, I feel your pain. This is not the conversation any of us wants to have with our colleagues.

But it’s also important to remember we’re not living in the 20th century, when getting media coverage was really the only way to get attention for a legal win. Pardon my Captain Obvious imitation here, but legal marketers have a panoply of content tools at their side that their predecessors did not. Promoting a win or a big deal through the media is just one.

This doesn’t mean that marketers shouldn’t continue to seek traditional media coverage. Placement in earned media can still offer an excellent credential.

But don’t settle for no exposure. Not when 68% of Americans get at least some of their news from social media.

It’s worth pondering the significance of that figure when developing a content strategy. One takeaway is that any firm can be part of “the conversation” no matter if it’s in the news or not. It’s a simple point, but to take advantage of it requires shedding old thinking — but not necessarily old tools.

Re-enter the case study

The case study is one of the oldest marketing concepts around. Still it’s aged well and is perfectly suited for our digital world. Nearly half of the respondents to a recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute found case studies to be the most effective in achieving their organizations’ objectives.

Part of the reason is that they’re shareable, searchable and informative — all key elements in our digital age. Yes, getting that placement in The New York Times would be killer and the dream of any lawyer. But that’s a rarity. On top of that, these days, we’d likely see that killer placement on a social media platform — and perhaps, right alongside another firm’s case study.

The case for more law firm case studies

First, let’s get real: Good case studies can’t be made without serious effort and investment. If they’re going to reflect a firm’s brand, they must meet the highest editorial standards. Typically, they also require obtaining input and clearance from the law firm’s client, which is often no easy task.

But done right, the case study can be a powerful showcase of a law firm’s prowess in the courtroom or at the negotiation table. Here are a few more reasons why the case study is still relevant and should play a big role in any law firm’s content marketing strategy.

Reinforces key messaging. Big litigation wins and transactions are a chance to reinforce a larger narrative to help distinguish a law firm from its competitors. These are messages that are not easy to slip into an article written by a journalist on deadline. A case study allows firms to explain how they approach matters — what’s special to them and the results they get. It’s easy to go too far with this and sound off-putting, so it’s important to show restraint in chest-beating. But through a well-crafted story, these important messages can be effective in building and reinforcing a brand.

Strengthens key relationships. An ideal case study will feature a law firm’s clients — who often get overshadowed in the media by outside counsel — and demonstrate how all the key players worked together to solve a problem. Promoting these shared wins can help strengthen existing client relationships.

Distinguishes digital footprint and captures crucial leads. Many consumers of legal services still use Google to get smart on crucial issues. So, a sophisticated case study will leverage the right SEO terms that will lead potential clients to a law firm’s site. Ideally, the target will learn how the law firm solved a problem that closely resembles a problem the target is looking to solve. A 2018 study found that in a B2B setting, case studies are the most effective at converting and accelerating the most leads.

Offers creative control. It’s a blindingly obvious point, but worth noting: A case study offers complete creative control. This is important in the context of our example above about chasing earned media. When we rely exclusively on the media to tell our stories, we give up control of important narratives, which often can be better told if we’re making the creative choices. In a case study, the firm orchestrates everything — who is quoted and photographed, which facts are included, what medium to use, etc.

Provides multipurpose content. Case studies don’t have infinite shelf lives, but they can live for several years on a firm’s website, especially if they are packaged with newer ones. And their value is not limited to filling the “case study” section of a website or providing grist for social media posts. They can also serve as the foundation for RFPs, annual reports, award nominations, directory submissions and talking points for client meetings.

Marketers, I rest my case.

Andrew Longstreth is Head Writer at Infinite Global, where he creates custom content for law firms. He can be reached at andrewl@infiniteglobal.com.

Need help crafting the precise story for your legal audience? Infinite Global offers a full range of copywriting and creative services.

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