The Medium and The Message

You may have heard the phrase, “The medium is the message” at some point in your life. Depending on your interests and background, you might even be familiar with its history and meaning – the subtleties of which are actually quite thought provoking. (If you’re interested, the phrase’s Wikipedia entry isn’t too much to handle.)

Today, however, I want to borrow the idea to illustrate a point about law firm marketing.

When considering what to say or where to invest your time, make sure you’re accounting for both the medium and the message.

What I mean by that is, think about the format you’re using when crafting your marketing message. It should influence the structure, tone and desired result of your content.

Structural Integrity

Whether you notice it or not, all communications have some inherent structure to their ideas. A full-length blog post might look like a high school essay. Calculated and thoughtful, with an obvious introduction –> body –> conclusion format. An off-the-cuff social media post on the other hand often takes the form of a single thought or perhaps a simple set-up for some shared content. If you don’t already, start thinking about how you organize your thoughts and marketing messages before you start typing or speaking. Your words should “flow” towards a specific action you want your audience to take. The important thing is to plan ahead before putting the proverbial pen to paper.

Tone Check

You already know this one in your gut. Facebook followers aren’t looking for in-depth explanations of their legal rights. The social network is a scroller’s paradise and your content needs to work far harder to capture an audience’s fleeting attention. In this arena, the challenge is usually a matter of saying a lot with very little. Contrast this with your website or any other formal marketing piece and you’ll realize that these benefit from a more professional tone. Odds are, this is your natural voice when speaking to a prospective client. You likely adopt a reassuring or advisory manner that motivates your audience to choose you. If so, keep it up.

But what about those riskier areas like Twitter? Public relations horror stories have some people fearing to tread here, but if you do, a measure of prudence will go a long way. Stick to the facts and safe opinions. Think about each particular tweet before sharing. If your words went far and wide, would they help or hurt your firm’s business?

Dare To Dream

Close your eyes and imagine if your audience was convinced of the case you’ve just made. What would you like them to do next? Your answer should reflect the medium you used in that instance. This is because different platforms have distinct user bases, often with their own set of expectations. Tailor your calls to action (CTAs) to this reality and you’ll be more likely to get the result you want. This means prompting conversations on Facebook, driving phone calls from print advertising and promoting contact form submissions on your website. It can be hard to accept, but not every piece of marketing content you publish can be expected to deliver leads – let alone clients. It’s really no different than in-person networking or relationship building. The results take time. Sometimes you need to be content to participate in the broader online discussion and simply have faith that the cumulative effect of your presence will benefit your firm in the long run.

What it really all comes down to is knowing your audience. They have a reason for connecting with you in the format they chose. Keep this in mind and align yourself accordingly. If you’re fortunate enough to get their attention, speaking the right language and having the right expectations for the conversation will help you achieve your broader business goals.

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