How Thinking Like a Lawyer Made Me a Better Content Marketer
Want a better content marketing strategy? Think like a lawyer. On my own path to becoming a content marketer, I made a pit stop at law school. Yes, I wrote case briefs and stayed up until 4 a.m. studying to pass two bar exams (Florida's and Missouri's).
And that experience has been an unfair competitive advantage for me for going up against my fellow content marketers. Because of my legal training, I approach strategy differently. The law taught me how to conduct extensive research, manage daunting tasks and develop multiple arguments -- all useful tools for content marketing.
Want to upgrade your own strategy? Here are five ways how a lawyer would do it:
1. Create compelling stories.
The legal profession is grounded in communication. We consume complex issues, then deliver compelling stories to judges and juries. What some people fail to realize is that great storytelling doesn’t start with the story. It’s about asking the right questions. It’s about understanding your target audience.
Great stories focus on why the topic will matter to others. Storytellers/lawyers explore the five human senses, while considering a person’s state of mind. That’s also the crux of a content marketing strategy: Why should your customer care? And how will your marketing efforts maintain their attention?
So, build your next campaign by answering customers’ questions. Give each story a colorful backdrop with a setting, climax and resolution.
Whether this means convincing a prospect to try a demo or join a webinar -- or anything else -- the task comes down to giving people the ability to trust your brand. And that’s why compelling stories work well.
2. Solve real issues.
The legal profession is not about memorizing the law, but actually applying it. Attorneys are trained to issue-spot. This means we look to find the real issue amid a stack of convoluted information.
So, rather than focusing on your customers' symptoms, dive deeper to find the root cause of their problems. What makes them tick? What are their unrelenting desires?
While attorneys rely on facts, content marketers differ somewhat in that they need to examine both qualitative and quantitative data. From product reviews to session replays, learn your customers’ problems. Then, use that knowledge to produce invaluable content. Create ebooks, infographics and blog posts that will provide genuine solutions.
Develop a keen eye for details and avoid red herrings. Then, use that skill to transform how your team produces content.
3. Adhere to schedules.
Successful lawyers possess impeccable organizational skills. We handle too many cases not to know what’s happening around us.
Missing deadlines in the legal profession is serious business. If a client’s brief isn’t filed with the court on time, that tardiness may lead to a malpractice lawsuit.
As a content marketer, the consequences may not be as grave. But you should still hold your team to a high standard. Manage your content schedule daily. Create a Trello board with assigned tasks. Use CoSchedule to help you publish consistent content. And establish soft and hard deadlines for big projects.
If project management isn’t your strength, enroll in online courses or hire a coach to train you. Learning the basics will help you streamline your content marketing processes. And, remember: Deadlines are important. So, stick to your schedule.
4. Offer multiple solutions.
An attorney’s work product is crucial. It can give a person his property rights back or even save a life. That’s why lawyers don’t just develop one solution to a problem.
Attorneys approach issues from different angles. We know what the opposing counsel will say before he or she says it. It’s all about anticipating someone’s response and preparing a rebuttal beforehand.
Content marketers can greatly benefit from this skill, too. That's why you should promote your content in creative ways. Try experimenting with influencer marketing or creating Snapchat stories. Ask for user-generated content around a live event.
Problem solving shouldn’t be constrained by strict rules. Host brainstorming sessions with your team. Organize a friendly contest among your co-workers. The goal is to get people thinking differently.
The point is, there are multiple paths to success. There’s always another solution to your problem.
5. Follow a code of ethics.
Attorneys must heed to a code of professional standards. Ethics are so important, in fact, that lawyers are required to pass a professional responsibility examination.
When ethical issues arise, lawyers can’t plead ignorance. Instead, they/we must comply with the standards. If not, we risk losing our licenses.
Content marketers also should follow ethics. However, all ethical practices aren’t readily apparent. So, talk with your team about developing internal guidelines. Those may concern such concerns as how to avoid plagiarism or to create transparent branded content.
A code of ethics will give your team a base line to follow. It will ensure that everyone is held accountable for his or her actions. Sound ethical behavior amplifies professionalism in content marketing. It adds another layer of trust between the customer and the brand.
Think like a lawyer.
My legal skills make me a better content marketer. These same qualities separate me from others in the marketing industry.
So, do as I do: Approach future marketing campaigns from an attorney’s point of view. Create worthwhile stories. Adhere to a set schedule. And follow a code of ethics. Improve your content marketing strategy. Think like a lawyer.