9 ways to write content people want to read … and respond to!

Great online content fulfils the dual purpose of gaining new clients & engaging existing clients

If you have had any proximity to marketing or business development recently I am sure you have come across the line “content is king”.  The reason it is a line that enjoys such ubiquity is that it is 100% true.

The rises in both our reliance on the internet and the popularity of social media means these are now (and by some distance) our first ports of call when we want to know something.  This means that if you are going to use content that will generate the levels of interest and engagement you need to in order to:

1 – Stay front of mind for your current clients and contacts

2 – Generate more new enquiries from those you want as clients

You are going to have to generate a steady flow of interesting and engaging content.

A detailed and technical post may appeal to peers, but not to clients

In our experience this is where some solicitors, barristers and IP attorneys can struggle.  While they are technically proficient – brilliant even – they are also often far too technically focused.  This means it is sometimes difficult to pick a topic and then write about it in a way that will engage an audience largely made up of individuals with no legal training and limited legal understanding.

The following 9 tips cover some of the suggestions we’ve passed onto our clients to help them tackle this potential hurdle and start to build up the confidence required to produce content that achieves its primary purpose – to generate enough interest to generate a response.

1  Make it Practical, give Direction
Could an invented client case study bring your post to life?

Your clients don’t want a dissertation on the ins and outs of a legislative update or the likely construction of a new point of law.  They want to know how that update or that point of law could actually affect them, their business or their family.

Always try to write from a practical point of view to illustrate potential pitfalls and potential solutions or canny ways to avoid those pitfalls (whilst, at the same time, framing yourself as someone who knows how to deliver or sidestep the pitfalls in question).

Wherever possible try to use anonymised case studies and anecdotes to bring your points to life and use the right points to make sure it is totally relevant to your readers.

2  Use the News

One of the easiest ways to come up with a topic for a blog or an article is to look at the news and spin it with a comment or angle relevant to your practice, geography or sector specialism.

For example a very public spat between the directors of a blue-chip multinational might make a good foundation for an article on the need for shareholders agreements.  Or Prince George’s first day at nursery school might provide an excuse to look at primary education’s duty of care to their pupils.

Inspiration and interest in a topic for a legal blog can arrive from unusual sources (Attribution: Ruaraidh Gillies)

One of my favourite examples came from an employment team in Leeds who, the day after Liverpool’s Luis Suarez bit Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, greeted their subscriber list with:

“How would you deal with a claim of oral assault in the workplace?”

Given the slightly tongue in cheek (excuse the pun) delivery and the speed they got it out, this enjoyed a really good level of response immediately.

The reasons for adopting this approach are simple; it is much more eye-catching because it is familiar and it helps you get found because if people are talking about something, they are generally looking for it online too.

3  Dip into Popular Culture

As above but using something from music, film or TV.

I recently saw a family team use a clip from the Mail Online (the premier source of hugely useable celebrity tattle by the way) showing Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner taking their children out together despite going through a separation.  They badged it up as ‘a great example of how to separate responsibly’ and it enjoyed enormous coverage via social media.

Closer to home, I published a blog on LinkedIn based on what we could learn about management from Line Of Duty’s Ted Hastings less than 12 hours after the last episode went out.  It’s had a huge response from a very relevant extended audience that has generated some very interesting new contacts.

4  Sign up for Google Alerts
Stay alert and ahead by being the first to know what’s going on

Google alerts are one of the digital age’s greatest short cuts.

All you need to do is go to Google Alerts and type in the search terms most relevant to your practice.  Then every day (or every week if that’s preferable) you’ll receive an email with all of the updates linked to those search terms.

These updates will show you what people are reading, writing and talking about and any interesting angles can be turned into contact.

5  Use the Trade Press

As with Google alerts the trade press (and, more to the point, the free email newsletters they offer) will give you some ideas as to what your client’s industries are talking about and, therefore, what you could be writing about from a legal perspective.

In Part 2 of this post I cover 4 more ways to bring your content to life, and gain views and new clients from online posts which break big.

How I can Help You Get Started!
Please get in touch for a no obligation chat

Usually I wouldn’t be quite as vehement with my own calls-to-action but given the subject of this blog I am sure you’ll understand so …

If you’d like to discuss how to tweak your own blog, please email me.

If you’d like a chat about how to structure a personal content marketing plan that’ll help you achieve your BD objectives, please email me.

If you’d like to discuss the possibility of us running our practical workshop on ‘How to produce content that does BD’ for you and your team, please email me.

And of course, if you have any other questions about anything to do with writing, content or – in fact anything else to do with any aspect of BD or legal marketing – please email me!

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DougTenandahalf

Doug McPherson

Douglas is a director of Size 10½ Boots, a specialist business development agency that works solely with the professional services, helping firms grow by winning more new clients and more work from the clients they already have. Although every project is different our work generally falls into one of three camps - strategic marketing support, BD training and 1on1 coaching and independent client research.

2 thoughts on “9 ways to write content people want to read … and respond to!

  • May 31, 2017 at 8:52 am
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    Without distribution, content is just an overhead. (I say this as the MD fo the largest producer of content for the UK legal market…if it’s to work, it MUST be distributed in a sensible way).

    Content must be ‘for market’. If you are writing for the private client market the above works well. if you are writing for a business/professional market, they need material which carries weight. Targeting the message to the user is critical.

    Content is also about the setting in train long-term confidence in the messenger. Writing material that is too ‘light’ is, in that context, a potential danger.

    Lastly, content must be written in the right language for the market.

    Reply
  • May 31, 2017 at 9:38 am
    Permalink

    As usual Joe I can’t disagree with any of the points you’ve raised but I’m not sure all of them relate to this piece.

    Aside from the fact it’s about production rather than distribution (and I’m totally with you there, content without an audience takes me back to then parable of the sower!) I would have thought the provision of practical content would start the process of creating confidence in your abilities.

    Meanwhile better use of google alerts and the trade press to give you the right angles, reference points and language would continue that process and show you’re on the ball and understand the wider and not always legal issues your clients face.

    The only point that suggests too light a touch is using popular culture but used sparingly as part of an overall content strategy, it shows the person ‘behind the suit’ and can be key to making you more attractive to certain personality types, more so than technical content ever will.

    I totally agree it’s more suited – on the surface at least – to maybe family, PC and employment but I’ve seen it work for all manner of commercial practices too.

    Reply

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