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How to win clients with words

21 December 2016

You might think that your deep knowledge of your subject matter and your great discursive skills equip you to write content marketing for your firm. But it's not as simple as it seems, says Ben Hollom.

You might think there's no reason why lawyers can't write their own content marketing. Lawyers are usually good writers. They have a finely-honed facility for language, argument and detail, allied to in-depth subject knowledge.

But these talents actually work against lawyers when it comes to writing effective content marketing content.

Legal writing and content marketing writing skills are very different. Legal professionals are trained to write dispassionately and at length, with a premium placed on detailed factual analysis. For copywriters, the focus is on attracting attention and driving conversion through compelling headlines and succinct, accessible and relatable copy.

So you need to learn new skill if you want to write your own content marketing. Here are a few best practice pointers.

1. Grab them with your headline

It’s an industry aphorism that eighty percent of online readers won’t read further than your headline – so that headline had better be good. Use it to grab attention, engage your audience and demonstrate your copy is worth reading. Identify what your clients will find of most interest in your story or blog, then present this to them in the headline.

2. Focus on the client

Write in the language of the customer, and not that of your profession / sector. Make your copy direct, immediate, concise and clear. Keep sentences short, without too many clauses. The fact that the client needs your services doesn't mean they understand your terminology – consider including an explanation of terms that, to you, appear self-evident. If you’re writing blogs, you must have something to say that will interest a public which is wider than a legal audience, draws from a world they recognise, and has a practical relevance to their everyday lives. To create interest, pass comment on news stories or events that have caught the public imagination and are trending online.

3. Make it visually appealing

Blogs don’t need to follow traditional written document formats. Add dynamism and visual appeal by including vlogs (video blogs) or infographics. These are a great way of incorporating statistics and technical detail while bypassing off-putting legalese.

4. Tell a story

Think of blogs as small dramas. How does yours begin? With a question? An unresolved mystery? How do you structure it to hold the attention of the reader, and what exactly is it that will keep your audience interested all the way to the call to action? Predominantly, you want to showcase your expertise by applying your wisdom to current affairs, enhancing your standing as a voice of authority, and subtly demonstrating how your skills will benefit prospective clients.

5. Consider asking the professionals

It's hard for lawyers to have the time and build the skillset required to produce the regular blog copy that will tick all the search engine optimisation boxes, satisfy search engines, and convert readers to clients. If you're thinking you might use a marketing agency, the most important thing is to ensure that its copywriters understand your clients. What is their level of awareness of legal procedures, their likely professional and industry backgrounds? What areas of practice are they particularly interested in? What devices are they likely to use to access content?

A shared understanding of these factors (refined further through ongoing analytics and client feedback) should allow your chosen agency partner to deliver content that is in-keeping with your brand and will appeal to the right people. Many law firms ‘do’ online marketing for fear of being left behind in a competitive industry, but few approach it with a coherent, long-term strategy for success. However, as with many things in life, to really see the results, your content marketing efforts should be a commitment, not a flirtation.

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Tags: communication

About the author

Ben Hollom runs content creation agency M2 Bespoke, specialising in thought leadership marketing and social media management.
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