Go Ahead. Get Emotional.

There’s a principle often cited in marketing that posits people make decisions based first in emotion and then use logic to try and justify that decision. Attorneys should understand that more than almost anyone.

Ask a criminal defense lawyer, a divorce attorney or a bankruptcy lawyer how often they’ve seen a good person make a bad decision based on emotion. It’s likely going to be quite often. Why, then, would those lawyers think the person in a legal situation (possibly caused by emotional behavior) would behave any differently when choosing their lawyer?

The fact is, emotion is so fundamental to the decision making process that one scientific study has shown that people with damage to the emotional centers of the brain consistently struggle to make even the most basic choices.

Now, armed with this knowledge, won’t you join me in making the logical decision to bring more emotion into your content? Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Make Web Pages About the User
    If you want to generate leads from your website, then you must realize that the website is no longer about you. Your website is about your clients.

    Few things are more powerful than connecting with a potential client to the point that they see themselves in the content you create. Yes, you need to create a brand and set yourself apart from your competition, but you need to do it in a way that relates to your clients. If you can show them that you understand why their case matters to them, they’ll be far more likely to hire you.

    Examine your current content. If you see more words like “I”, “my”, “me” and “our” than “you” and “your,” that the page needs to be rewritten from the ground up. Put another way, write sentences where the client is the subject, not you.

  2. Tell Stories
    There are very few situations where the old adage “show, don’t tell” doesn’t apply. Marketing copy is no exception. You want me to believe your brand? Show me what that looks like. Don’t just tell me about it.

    Don’t tell me that your law firm answers calls twenty-four hours a day; show me a time where your firm was there for someone when they really needed it.

    Don’t tell me you win cases; put me in the moment you won a case that changed someone’s life for the better. Show me the look on your client’s face, their relief.

    Don’t be afraid to spend whole pages on a site just telling stories. I promise it will be a far more valuable use of space than a third page on car accidents.

  3. Don’t Let Ego Get in the Way
    I’ve worked with countless attorneys, and I regularly see them make risky content decisions based on ego. Why? Because ego is hugely powerful emotion, and, as we’ve established, people make decisions based on emotion and then seek to justify them.

    Clients often want to use content to make sure they sound very smart. They want to highlight awards and accolades that probably mean nothing to most people. They want to impress their colleagues. But these actions can subtly send the wrong message when driven by ego.

    A website dense with legal terminology, statute citations and complex sentences doesn’t necessarily impress; it could make a user think they’ll feel dumb and potentially taken advantage of when coming to your office. Trying to impress your colleagues can send the wrong subtle signals to a user about what matters more to you. As a potential client I don’t care that you think you’re important, what’s important to me is my case.

  4. Talk More About Benefits Than Features
    In a recent presentation I mentioned one of my favorite quotes from the famous Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.” In turn people don’t want to hire a criminal defense lawyer; they want to stay out of jail. To write effective content, you need to be very thoughtful about the question of what the user actually wants. The answer is rarely simple or obvious.

    Your most powerful companion in writing content that converts is a question: Why should the user care? Ask that at every chance, and if there is a good answer, write to that answer. It’s the difference between saying something generic like, “I have 35 years of legal experience,” and “Legal experience can be the difference between winning and losing your case. When it’s most important, you’re going to be glad you have my 35 years of experience winning cases on your side.”

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