Your website copy sings. Your company brochure is attractive and informative. You regularly publish fresh blog posts and even wrote a guide to help attorneys work more productively using your product or service.
And yet … it’s crickets out there.
Lawyers aren’t reading your content. They use your flyers for scrap paper and your brochures for impromptu coasters. Your beautiful website isn’t even on their radar.
This is a real problem because before you can sell your product or service to attorneys, you have to earn their trust.
And to earn their trust, you have to get them to read your copy.
Successfully marketing to attorneys requires that you consider the unique challenges they face and understand how they approach and evaluate new situations.
When I say “attorneys” I mean, of course, lawyers of any stripe including those in large, mid-size and small law firms, corporate legal departments, general counsel, legal operations executives, solo lawyers, and any other legal professionals who influence purchasing decisions such as CFOs, COOs, CIOs, IT managers, law office managers, paralegals, and so on.
Whatever their role, understanding their hesitations and concerns more thoroughly helps you position your product or service accordingly. When you figure out what’s standing between them and your content, you can take the necessary steps to remedy the situation.
7 Reasons Attorneys Don’t Read Your Content
In this post, I lay out and discuss these 7 reasons attorneys don’t read your content:
- Your content doesn’t demonstrate how your product or service helps their clients.
- They must work too hard to feel comfortable.
- You haven’t answered, “Who else uses this?”
- Attorneys don’t see how they’ll benefit financially.
- Your content doesn’t speak directly to their particular niche, interests, concerns, pain points, etc.
- The layout of your content makes it too difficult to read.
- Actually, your content is fine. You’re just not promoting it enough.
Of course, listing a bunch of problems without tossing out some suggestions for improvements is just plain ol’ complaining. And that’s not what we’re here for. So, I’ve also added suggested solutions to the content marketing problems you may be experiencing and share a bit about why they work.
Problem 1: Your content isn’t capturing attorneys’ interest.
Reason: It doesn’t demonstrate how your product or service helps their clients.
Solution: Show how the features and aspects of your service or product benefit not just them but also their clients.
Why it works: Attorneys have an imperative to work in their clients’ best interests. They start to believe you can help them do so successfully.
It’s a mean characterture that portrays attorneys as heartless greedy vultures. Most attorneys care deeply about how the lives of their clients and others are affected by the cases and projects they work on.
And even if they don’t, lawyers are bound by ethical codes and rules of professional conduct that force them to behave as if they care. Their licenses may be suspended or revoked for simply appearing not to follow professional standards. And one of those standards is to make decisions based on their clients’ best interests.
The main goal for many attorneys is to ensure their clients receive diligent, prompt, and effective counsel, which is exactly what your service or product should help them do.
Here’s the rub: The fact that a service or product makes life easier for an attorney is not sufficient reason for them to take risks that may result in harm to their clients in any way.
Cloud technologies are a typical example. We’ve practically had to drag law firms kicking and screaming into the cloud. Doing so offers clear benefits such as better pricing, mobile access to documents, and so on. But lawyers held off migrating to the cloud for eons because they feared to expose their and their clients’ data to potential security risks.
As long as any other solidly proven way of getting the same thing done remains, most lawyers will choose the safe option and avoid risk. That, of course, is one reason the legal industry has been so entrenched in using the same old inefficient tools and methods.
What You Can Do About It:
Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the American Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct as well as any codes of ethics set out by the states and governing bodies in a particular field.
Step 2: Consider the ways any features or aspects of your service or product benefit a law firm’s clients. In the case of corporate counsel, figure out how the corporation itself stands to profit or benefit.
Step 3: Make sure you highlight that in your content LOUD & CLEAR. You want lawyers to be your clients, yes, but they care about THEIR clients. So write about and discuss how your product or service makes them a hero.
Step 4: Also demonstrate that using your product or service doesn’t pose any risk to their clients (See Problem #2) Make sure this important information is clear and immediately noticeable. (See Problem #6.)
Problem 2: Attorneys don’t seem to understand the value you offer.
Reason: You make them work too hard to feel comfortable.
Solution: Address how your solution doesn’t put them at risk of violating one of the many rules they are required to follow.
Why it works: They are assured you have done your homework to deal with the specific restrictions and issues they face.
Right off the bat, attorneys are accustomed to the rest of the world not truly understanding what they actually do. Blame Hollywood and scenes where the defense dramatically unveils a secret video of the real killer mere minutes before a trial concludes. The world is rife with fictionalized plots and stories of impossible lawyerly deeds. Beyond that, attorneys can go into a large variety of different types of legal fields. Some lawyers never even see the inside of a courtroom.
But, for the most part, people make assumptions. We make assumptions about attorneys. In turn, they make assumptions about us. You’re automatically up against their assumption that you don’t know about – and so can’t appreciate and haven’t taken into account – the very real rules and restrictions they face such as:
- professional standards for the ethical practice of law
- court rules and firm policies
- state and/or federal regulations (depending on their practice area)
- rules and regulations of administrations, groups, or governing bodies in their practice area
Therefore, they assume you haven’t done your homework, and the onus is on them to determine whether using your product or service will violate any one of these many professional standards, rules, regulations, etc.
The trouble is, they have to work to feel comfortable with using your product or service. And they’re already working too hard at everything else. It’s so much easier just to tune you out.
What You Can Do About It:
Step 1: Research to understand the responsibilities and obligations of the attorneys and legal professionals in your audience.
Step 2: Dig even deeper to understand more about other issues that stress attorneys.
Step 3: Show you’ve got their backs. Address how you help them meet their obligations and/or prove that you’re not exposing them to unnecessary risks. This could be as detailed as a full-blown original research study or entire sections of your website devoted to discussing specific issues such as data security. Sometimes, it’s also as simple as adding “HIPAA-compliant” to a description.
Problem 3: Your content triggers an automatic aversion to change.
Reason: You haven’t answered, “Who else uses this?”
Solution: Use case studies, research, and testimonials to prove others use your product or service effectively.
Why it works: Attorneys place a high value on precedence.
The entire legal system has a built-in reverence for precedence. Lawyers rely on established laws and prior court decisions to argue their positions. Judges, too, look to past court decisions and case law for authoritative guidance when making decisions.
This reverence for precedence elevates an already natural inclination to view change or anything new as inherently risky. And we know how lawyers feel about risks.
Attorneys are risk averse for good reason. Wouldn’t you be, too, if your decisions could win or lose millions of dollars? Their performance can affect the freedoms, happiness, and welfare of others. Sometimes lots of others.
So, yes, lawyers tend to stick with what they know works. And for good reason.
It sounds bad. But don’t worry. Everyone starts out here. You just have to work harder to earn their trust and convince them that change is good. As long as it’s with you!
What You Can Do About It:
Step 1: Use case studies and examples of how others traveling the road with you have found or are finding success along the way.
Step 2: Ask for and publish client testimonials. A 200-word testimonial is much more persuasive than 2,000 words of marketing copy. When you ask for a testimonial, one way to structure the request to get a helpful response is to ask:
- What issues were you struggling with/problems were you looking to solve before contacting us?
- What other solutions did you try before ours?
- What specific improvements have you seen (eg. more billable hours, faster review times, etc.) after working with us?
You can see how answering those questions sets up a nice narrative for an excellent testimonial.
Step 3: Use research and statistics in your content to also help prove your points.
Problem 4: Attorneys see you as a threat.
Reason: You’re not proving how your product or service benefits them financially.
Solution: Use fact-based evidence to prove how your service or product positively affects their bottom line.
Why it works: Attorneys are analytical buyers, and they respect a well-reasoned argument supported by facts.
First, a little background. (Disclaimer: This is an over-simplified look at the immense pressures law firms now face and the dynamics involved. But I’m trying to establish a mood here.)
Your product or service may make a law firm more efficient. But who wants efficiency when you’re getting paid by the hour? Naturally, attorneys have dug in their heels when it comes to threats to the billable hour.
But, others are starting to raise eyebrows at this behavior and push back. In-house counsel and the powers that be at businesses are questioning outside legal spend. They’re seeing AI, automation, and outsourcing save other businesses millions of dollars. And so, they’re demanding lawyers prove the value behind their billable fees.
This coincides with and is aggravated by the arrival of alternative legal service providers such as Axiom and LegalZoom that offer more accessible legal services at less cost.
Strategies law firms use to meet the steady pressures of these demands include:
- Introducing new technologies to improve workflows
- Outsourcing time-consuming administrative tasks
- Using AI (artificial intelligence) and automation to perform repetitive work
Law firms are using legal tech, legal support services, and legal process outsourcing to increase efficiencies.
And clearly, your product or service is vital to law firms. It likely serves a double benefit of both increasing their internal efficiencies while also proving their value to clients.
But, simply pointing that out to them is not enough. You have to prove it.
When you make an assertion, attorneys need you to back it up. They want hard evidence. Critical thinkers trained to evaluate situations from every angle, they seek to understand the strengths and weaknesses in every proposition.
You’re not going to sway them with blatantly emotional marketing tactics. (Not that they aren’t swayed by emotion. They key word here was “blatant.”)
What You Can Do About It:
Step 1: Anything that can be proven should be. Use statistics, industry reports, research study results, and other fact-based data to prove how your product or service positively affects users or clients.
Step 2: This is yet another area where case studies showing your success with others are highly effective. Don’t be afraid to tap into research from other companies that prove salient points. Product comparison charts can also quickly show how you stack up to the competition.
Problem 5: Your content doesn’t resonate with attorneys in your audience.
Reason: Your content doesn’t speak directly to their particular niche, interests, concerns, or pain points.
Solution: Create content tailored to attorneys segmented by practice areas or other logical distinctions.
Why it works: Focused content speaks directly to an audience that then sees you as an industry authority with their best interests in mind.
Lawyers are not a monolith, though we too easily address them as one. (As I’ve done throughout this piece. Guilty!)
Of course, attorneys are a diverse lot. And, different practice areas have vastly different needs, interests, and concerns.
A litigation attorney will be much more interested in a research and citation tool than, say, a real estate lawyer would be. A criminal defense attorney has a greater need for a calendaring and time management solution than, say, a probate attorney.
Even when your product legitimately serves all types of attorneys, various types of legal professionals will use it for varying reasons.
But too often, in trying to communicate to all lawyers, we wind up saying nothing meaningful to any of them.
What You Can Do About It:
Create tailored content that is targeted to reach specific legal practice areas.
Step 1: If you don’t know already, figure out what practice areas are likely to benefit the most with your product or service. Determine why they benefit. How are the specific tasks or roles improved?
Step 2: Tailor your messages to the legal audiences most likely to buy. Discuss and describe the features and aspects members of that specific audience will appreciate most. This often involves discussing the same features or services repeatedly — but in very different ways.
Step 3: If your product or service can be marketed to a broader legal audience, great. You can still create separate content pieces targeted to specific practice areas.
Problem 6: Your content is too difficult to read.
Reason: It’s written in long paragraphs without visual breaks.
Solution: Break up your content with headings, bullet points, and images.
Why it works: Busy attorneys can quickly scan your content to find what they need or determine whether they should read it closer.
Yes, lawyers tend to read more than other people. (Including the fine print since they know what sorts of devilish things are hidden there.)
We hope that it would, but that tendency doesn’t necessarily carry over to marketing materials and content.
Just like everyone else, lawyers scan the screen or the page for the most important information.
Long paragraphs of unbroken text are doomed to suffer from “tl;dr” – too long, didn’t read.
The most critical information may be buried, indistinguishable amidst walls of text. Nothing stands out to capture their interest during a quick scan.
What You Can Do About It:
Step 1: Break up long paragraphs using:
- Bullet points
- Bold and colored text
Just look at the genius masterpiece you’re reading now. The most critical information and the information most likely to interest lawyers should be the most noticeable.
Step 2: Statistical data and researched information don’t have to be boring. Use charts and infographics to make data more visually interesting and easier to comprehend quickly.
Step 3: Break up your copy with interesting photos, illustrations images, and graphics. And GIFs!
Problem 7: Your content is actually fine. It’s just not getting found.
Reason: You’re not promoting your content enough.
Solutions: Promote your content through email, social media, blog posts, and other digital marketing efforts.
Why it works: Attorneys need to be made aware that your content exists before they can read it.
You can create a library full of wonderful content. It can be super easy to read, and it can address all the right issues.
But not a word of it will do any good if attorneys never see it.
You have to promote your content, not just once or twice, but over and over again. Be relentless about it.
Without promotion, content is just useless bytes and scraps of paper.
What You Can Do About It:
Step 1: Promote content on the social media platforms that surveys reveal lawyers use most:
Step 2: If you have an email list, send new content as it becomes available or in a monthly or quarterly newsletter. Don’t have an email list? Create one ASAP.
Step 3: Create blog posts that discuss your ebooks, guides, videos, and other content, then promote those posts.
Step 4: Consider paid advertising.
Step 5: Continue promoting your content as often as is reasonable for the medium and for as long as it remains relevant.
Step 6: By the way, in this hyper-digital age, don’t forget print materials. Take brochures, flyers, and handouts with you to conventions and events.