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5 ways to beat boring website copy

5 ways to beat boring website copy

Law firm marketing content does not have to be dull. Certainly, producing dry, stock legal marketing copy is easy — just look at almost any website or brochure, take a couple of notes and copy like a robot. Explain that the law is complex, say a few things about how only an experienced lawyer can help, drop in a couple of keywords and there you have it. It almost writes itself. But this type of content will not impress potential clients or help with SEO. Search engines are increasingly looking for unique, relevant and useful articles.

Sometimes, an attorney or contract writer produces stellar content only to have it edited and cut to oblivion. Creating content for any firm with more than one attorney can be difficult, especially when committees or multiple partners are involved. After rounds and rounds of changes are applied, the original is unrecognizable, but the result is very familiar.

Your website visitors want more. People who are dealing with a legal issue no longer believe that understanding the law and handling the problem is exclusively the purview of lawyers. Increasing percentages of legal consumers believe they can handle matters themselves. You have to reach these people, and stale stock content won't do the trick.

Here are some tips for presenting visitors with memorable, compelling copy that actually generates leads.

1. Consolidate responsibility and develop consensus

If you or you and a solo writer are working on content, then you already have a solid, compact team.

If you are working with a team of writers and editors, or are juggling multiple attorneys and an executive committee, pick a small core group of 3-5 people who will manage decision making, and pick a liaison. Decide who will have editing privileges and who will handle project management (someone other than the writer). Assign someone to communicate decisions with the rest of the firm. Stick to your roles in order to keep the maximum amount of peace and progress.

In either case, before you begin writing, set goals for everything from deadlines to style. Some items to consider include:

  • • Developing a content schedule
  • • Setting goals for the content. Should it inform? Entertain? Generate leads? Generate awareness?
  • • Creating a style guide
  • • Establishing accountability for maintaining quality and timeliness

Once set, share your objectives with the whole firm. Make sure everyone knows what you are writing and why. Bring others on board by having a clear strategy and measurable benchmarks for content production.

2. Unite in tone

You must pay attention to voice and tone no matter how many people are working on your content. Even if writing only for yourself, establish some ground rules first. For example, will you use first or third person? What are your reasons for making this decision? What is the personality you are trying to convey, and how much leeway does this personality leave for casual writing? You can develop great, interesting content in any voice, with formal or informal language. Third person does not have to be dry any more than first person has to be colloquial. However, all content must be consistent, no matter what parameters you set.

If you have multiple writers, trust your editor and your project manager. Second guessing them will only produce a disjointed or confusing outcome.

3. Create client personas

You cannot communicate effectively if you do not understand the people to whom you are speaking. And your goal should be to understand them as people, not abstract demographics, but individuals with goals, hobbies, fears, habits and wishes.

A client persona is a set of characteristics that many members of your audience share. These characteristics come together to build a unique profile, or persona. Think of each persona like it is an actual person. Who is this person. What are his or her responsibilities? What would he or she read? Watch? Enjoy? Give your persona a full biography, including things like:

  • • Age
  • • Name
  • • Demographic information (salary, family status, location)
  • • Occupation and title
  • • Work responsibilities
  • • Values and goals
  • • Fears
  • • Motivations
  • • Hobbies

You may want to create more than one persona, but don't go overboard. The key is creating a few thorough personas, each of which you can perceive as a real prospective client.

4. Stay honest, and hold yourself to your original goals

The best copy will stay true to your firm's initial objectives. The worst will suffer death by 1000 cuts. If your goal is to stand out, remember that goal while you are reviewing copy. Don't be afraid of personality or of sounding too different from other attorneys.

Trust your writers and editors. They have experience writing for a different audience than you do. Don't panic and change your goals or tone mid-way through the process — let it play out, and then test your audience's reaction.

5. Be specific

Many attorney websites contain copy that is just a laundry list of services. Entire paragraphs will consist only of comma separated lists of every possible type of injury or corporate law transaction. This keyword-based, list-rich content will not impress search engines or visitors. Both are looking for real solutions.

Rather than writing general copy about your practice areas, try answering questions you have heard many of your clients ask. Your intake process can be the source of many content topic ideas. Dig down into your services and give examples of how the legal process works, what your clients can expect and how your approach helps them. Visitors can read a laundry list on any law firm's website. Content that offers specific, helpful information will make a better impression.

People who are looking for an attorney do not want to read the same repetitive content from every firm. Overwhelmingly, they are performing their own legal research online before beginning to look for an attorney, and many of your visitors will be more educated about the law than you expect. Give them something they won't see everywhere else, and with that you will give them a reason to remember you and trust you.

Kristen Friend
Kristen Friend holds two bachelors degrees from Indiana University and an associates degreee from the International Academy of Design. As Art Director for Custom Legal Marketing, her work has been awarded Webby Honorees, WebAwards, Davey Awards, Muse Awards, W3 Awards, and many others. She is also a contributor to Entrpreneur Magazine through the Entrepreneur Leadership Network.