We’ll admit it. Legal marketing content doesn’t always lend itself to the most compelling reading material. There are an awful lot of legal websites out there rife with legalese, long-winded sentences and content that could be described as lackluster at best.
But this is the challenge with legal marketing content – and it can be fun, we swear! How do you create content that connects with the target audience?
To be sure, a number of factors come into play. But what it comes down to, and what a lot of legal websites miss, is that legal marketing content is not for lawyers; it’s for lawyers’ potential clients.
Being a Better Communicator
We know it can be easy to slip into writing content for a website that is reminiscent of a brief, replete with legal specifics. The target audience are not legal experts though. The average reader will probably not know what a statute of limitations is. They may never have heard of personal injury or premise liability law. It’s a sure bet they won’t know much of anything about the maze of state statutes and federal laws that apply to their case.
Your audience will have a question or concern and will want answers. And they want those answers conveyed in plain English, in a way that is easy to understand.
This means that complicated sentence structure and legalese has got to make like a tree and leave. For many lawyers, it can be thrilling to write this way. For the rest of us non-lawyer types, when confronted with dense or technical writing on a website, we’ll bounce from the page faster than an inbound pass in the final seconds of a play-off game.
The Big Secret: more than anything, keep in mind your audience’s suffering.
Your reader will be coping with a hardship – often an injury – and quite possibly be overwhelmed with hurt, confusion, physical pain, emotional upheaval and possibly grieving the sudden lost of someone dear to them.
They are considering hiring an attorney not because they want one. Sane people don’t think to themselves, “I sure hope I have something really bad happen to me – like a terrible, injurious car accident or a severe adverse reaction to a dangerous pharmaceutical drug – so I can hire an attorney to represent my case in a potentially protracted legal proceeding that might not even end in my favor.”
Your audience is reaching out to a lawyer because they feel they have no other choice. They are choosing legal representation as the best way to protect their interests and their future.
When you sit down before your computer, you are writing to these people. They are in a state of need for someone to help guide them through one of the most traumatic experiences of their lives.
Be Empathetic, Be Honest
Communicating effectively to the reader requires honesty and humility on the writer’s part. Your reader will be suffering in a way you cannot completely understand, even if you have represented hundreds of similar cases. Until you have been thrown out of a car during a roll-over event, or watched your child exhibit development delays due to birthing error, or had a husband lose a limb on a drilling rig, true empathy for their hardships is elusive.
Be empathetic anyway.
At its core, empathy is about putting yourself in their position and making a connection with them by showing that you can at least appreciate the difficulties they endure. Be open to imaging the physical afflictions that assault their bodies and the fears that rattle their confidence. Find ways to respectfully and tastefully weave this into the content.
Wait. Let’s explain what we mean by empathy.
It does not mean being sappy or hand-holding, and under no circumstances does it border on patronizing. Each topic will dictate the form and tone the empathy will take.
For example: a bad faith insurance page may touch upon the burdens of dealing with insurance agencies, that feeling of gradually being worn down by a carrier that keeps delaying a claim.
Another example: a nursing home abuse case will likely be written for a family member reaching out on behalf of an elderly loved one. This reader will no doubt have a number of worries, and possibly feel guilty (although they shouldn’t), about unknowingly placing their loved one in a neglectful or abusive environment.
Finally: a person filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy may have fears about tainting their credit history, or even feel a sense of loss in having personal property seized.
Every legal website on the Internet will review what bad faith insurance, nursing home abuse or bankruptcy law involves. How does one page stand out over the other? With all things being equal, why would a potential client pick this firm versus that one?
The page that reaches out to the reader, that makes a human connection, will have the edge in convincing the reader to reach back out.
That is our goal – helping a viable client, who is truly in need, reach a lawyer who can help really them.
In fact, that is what Obu is all about: making human connections.