Marketing for Lawyers and Writing for Relationships

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When it comes to marketing for lawyers, building a relationship with your prospective client is critical.  Before a client will trust you they must feel as though they know you and like you.  This is where regular writing can be a big help.

By regular writing, I mean using a blog or a newsletter or a weekly email to keep up communication with your base of clients and prospective clients.  Writing and sharing these articles with some frequency will allow your readers to gain an insight into you mindset.  It allows them to project themselves into your world and they actually develop a relationship with you through your writing.

You Write for Two Audiences: Clients and Referral Sources

When I introduce this as an important component of marketing for lawyers I always receive some resistance.  This comes from criminal lawyers, immigration lawyers, personal injury lawyers and family lawyers.  They tell me that people will not even visit their website until they have a need for their services.  While this may be (partially) true, when they do visit your website, they will read EVERYTHING that is up there.  If the information is only about you and your law firm they will not have a full understanding for how you can help them.  It is far better to have them read an ongoing narrative of your thoughts than to read a canned bio.

Referral sources will also regularly read everything you write.  It is critically important that your referral sources know you like you and trust you.  If you can keep them interested in what you have to say, on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, you will be amazed at the business that comes your way.  Think about the member of the clergy who wants to refer immigration cases to you or the financial planner who needs to refer a divorce attorney to a client.  If they want to send this referral to you, how will they gain any insight into who you are and your philosophy?

How To Write

When attorneys start writing on a regular basis they complain about the amount of time it takes.  It does take time to organize your thoughts and put them into a coherent format for print or Internet consumption.  But it is not like writing an academic research paper.

You are writing to develop a relationship.  Nobody is grading you.  While including facts and figures is good, sometimes, people are more interested in what you think and how you feel about the topic.  That is how relationships are developed.  You do not build a relationship in a sterile environment with clinical information.  It is messy and emotional.  That’s life and that’s how you should write.

There are four elements that should be included in an article you are writing for the purpose of building a relationship.  These elements are summarized by using the acronym P.O.K.E.  That stands for Personality, Opinion, Knowledge and Entertainment.  Those are the four things readers are looking for when they read your writing.

Below are some ways to incorporate each of these elements into your writing style.

Personality

Each of us has a distinct “voice” when we write.  Legal writing tends to dull that voice.  You need to find it and put in on display in your marketing.  Be a real person.  Demonstrate some emotion.  People are not hiring a robot when they need a lawyer.  They are hiring a flesh and blood human being and they expect you to act like one.  Show them who you are through your writing.

Opinion

What do you think?  How do you feel about this topic?  That is the question running through the mind of the reader while they are reading your article.  By taking a stand, by offering an opinion, some people will disagree with you.  Some may even be turned off.  But others will bond with you forever. 
Have some courage.  Give your opinion.  Your readers want it.

Knowledge

Educational marketing is fantastic for demonstrating knowledge.  Your challenge is to do this in a way that is not condescending or demeaning.  Help your readers discover the truth; do not beat them over the head with it.  You are helping people explore, grow and understand, you are not teaching.  There is a huge difference.

Entertainment

People want to feel something when they walk away from reading you work.  You must engage them emotionally.  That is what entertainment is all about.  You must, at some point, tap into their emotions and stir up some kind of feeling in them.  That is the only way to truly develop a relationship with them.

Writing this way is an acquired skill.  It takes practice.  Start by thinking about how you tell a story and model your writing after that.  Then go back and look for each of the elements of the P.O.K.E. method in your article.  If you can identify them, you’ve done well.  If you can’t, see what’s missing and add it in later.

Marketing for lawyers is about relationships.  You can build many relationships through your writing.  The key is to keep refining your craft.  You will get better over time but you must get started.