Focusing on content marketing for last week’s Two for Tuesdays worked so well that I’m doing it again this week. Today, we’re looking at mistakes that you want to avoid making in your content marketing. I found this great piece by Amanda Jesnoewski, owner of Velocity Media + Communications, on Startup Smart, where she discusses "Four content marketing mistakes you need to avoid."
Her piece is excellent, but all of the marketing speak may scare of some lawyers – I’m here to tell you that her advice applies to you too. We’re going to focus on two tips today.
Tip One: Think Like a Publisher, Not Like a Lawyer
How many times do you watch a medical show on television, and see someone ask the doctor to "tell it to them straight," meaning give them the diagnosis in layman’s terms without all of the medical jargon? Lots, right?
It’s not because the person isn’t smart enough to understand what a subdural hematoma is, it’s just more efficient to tell them that it’s a brain bleed.
It’s the same thing with legal writing – you want to consider your audience. In many cases, they will indeed be other lawyers. But will they prefer reading dry legal jargon? Or can you keep their attention more strongly if you cut to the chase?
Additionally, the trend lately is that more and more purchasers of legal services are NOT lawyers – so you want to be writing for them too. It’s not about dumbing it down; it’s about making it more efficient.
Jesnoewski says this using a lot of marketing words:
A marketer’s focus is on selling, where a publisher’s focus is on producing interesting content that engages readers and keeps them coming back."
Your content should build your credibility and expertise. It should also showcase your value in such a way that readers see the benefit in working with you, without you having to push for the sale. Sales naturally come when you add value."
A lawyer’s focus is on the law, where a publisher’s focus is on producing interesting content that engages readers and keeps them coming back."
Fair enough? So then,
Your content should build your credibility and expertise. It should also showcase your value in such a way that clients and potential clients see the benefit in working with you, without you having to explain it to them directly. Clients come naturally when you add value."
The number one rule in content marketing (in my book) is to think about your audience first – what do they want, and how do they want to hear it? Then, deliver that to them.
Tip Two: Be Authentic
We’ve talked about authenticity here before, and I know it’s become such a buzzword that everyone is fed up with it, but there’s really no better descriptor for this point. You have to be yourself. While content marketing is about the content, it’s also about the author – and that’s you.
So you have to be able to show your voice. You don’t have to go crazy, telling secrets and personal stories that have no place online. But you can use personal anecdotes from your professional life to get your points across. You can relate your interests to your profession, even when they may seem entirely unrelated. You can write as you speak.
That’s the beauty of content marketing – we’re not delivering a brief or writing a term paper for a professor. It doesn’t have to be a dispassionate recitation of the facts – we’re not a news outlet. You’re a professional services provider who has expertise to share. Since there are other people with that expertise, the way to set yourself apart is by sharing who YOU are.
If you’re not entirely sure, Jesnoewski suggests that you ask yourself the following:
To ensure you are being true to yourself and your brand, you need to know:
- What you stand for
- Why you do what you do
- Who you are targeting
- What they want
- Why you are using social media
When you know this, you can then establish your tone of voice, personality and the content that aligns with both you and your target market."
This is an important exercise, and is related to the first tip as well. Whether you’re writing a blog, or just an article, ask yourself:
- [In general] Why did I become a lawyer?
- [In general] Why do I practice in this area of law?
- What do I want to communicate here?
- Who is my audience?
- What do they want to hear and how do they want to hear it?
- If you are using social media, why?
All of these things will help you to frame the small goals that make up each piece of writing that you do, and will also help you to identify where and how to deliver them to your audience.
We’ll continue to look at content marketing in more posts this year, but tune in tomorrow as we get back to our discussions of Superbowl Commercials!