Are your Articles (making you) Unlikeable?

Between law school and legal work you've probably developed a writing style that's… bad for marketing.

You see, while some lawyers are jerks (just like some engineers, teachers, philosophers and artists), the majority of lawyers I know are friendly, personable and likeable the vast majority of the time.

And yet the articles they write make them seem like the most boring unlikeable humans in the history of the planet.

When people meet you, you want them to think “crikey you sound exactly like your articles read”.

It is, unfortunately, a problem across the board for law firms who want to engage in a regular content creation strategy.

See here's the thing – you are probably a perfectly nice person capable of having lovely conversations and making good connections at networking functions. But if your articles read like you just regurgitated a textbook onto your keyboard, then they probably aren't going to be giving people the right vibes about what a fantastic human being you are.

And this has a bit of a devastating flow-on effect for your firm's marketing efforts:

  1. people don't read the articles through, because they're so boring;
  2. people are then less likely to click on future articles to read;
  3. if they do read them, people may well be unlikely to share them with others;
  4. you're not utilising content to its best and highest use;
  5. your law firm marketing will suffer.

Now it's true – you can get away with an extremely boring article that gives away precisely none of your glorious personality if it happens to be the absolute best treatment of its topic.

But that's pretty rare.

So, in pursuit of our golden marketing trifecta of “known, liked and trusted” how can we bump up the likeability of our articles a bit?

Look at your Opening

Does your opening catch the reader's attention and invite them to keep reading?

Now I'm not talking about click bait here. I'm talking about a genuinely interesting hook that someone reads and immediately thinks “oh I wouldn't mind knowing more about that”.

And so they keep reading.

Keep your opening sentence short, sweet and to the point.

Here's a bad example: “The High Court recently handed down a landmark decision in the area of insolvency”.

Here's a better example: “A groundbreaking decision yesterday allows liquidators to charge more fees”.

See how it works?

Make it a Conversation

File notes, memoranda and case summaries rarely follow the form of a conversation. Instead they are intellectual, third person, passive voice and devoid of and personality.

A conversational writing style, on the other hand, reflects exactly how you would engage someone if they were in front of you.

It's why having a “persona” or “model client” in mind when you write your articles is so important – you're then writing to someone, not just to the world at large.

If you can picture yourself having a discussion with Jo using the words and phrases that you are writing down then you're on the right track.

If, however, you picture yourself reading your words allowed and you can picture people politely excusing themselves from your presence, then you might need to give it another crack.

Use Their Language

Hopefully you've spent some time listening to or working with the people you're writing for. If you're completely green in this area then this one might be a bit tough, but it's not impossible with some effort.

By and large, you want to use the kind of words that your target clients/readers use.

So I'm not likely going to use insolvency jargon in a construction article.

And I'm not going to cite legislation to an audience that just wants the nuts and bolts.

FInally I'm almost never going to talk about what the “Court below” said, and even if I do I probably won't use that phrase.

Why? Because nobody I'm writing for uses that phrase (ok to be fair, my personal audience use that phrase because you're all lawyers, but you get the point…).

You're Likeable, so Make your Articles Likeable Too

It's pretty simple – don't lose your personal edge just because you're writing something down. When people meet you, you want them to think “crikey you sound exactly like your articles read”.



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