After billing 500 hours for the past month, you finally found some quality time to write an article for your loving clients. After you send it out, you watch your phone with bated breath, anticipating that avalanche of new business that’s just about to pour in. Then, nothing.
You call down to your marketing people to express your displeasure, but they tell you that Google Analytics doesn’t lie. Nobody is reading your articles. Bummer.
Let me tell you how to fix this – how to boost your popularity on the client scene by switching to industry-based articles. I will also describe a basic template for writing effective industry articles.
Industry = Cool with Clients
The vast majority of lawyers like to write articles based on their practice areas. Although this approach sounds logical, consider the following questions: (i) Do clients read practice-area publications? and (ii) Do clients go to practice-area conferences? I bet if you examined the phones of your clients, you would discover that they prefer to read industrial publications, and they definitely prefer to attend industrial conferences.
When you write practice-area articles, it’s highly unlikely that an industrial publication will be interested in publishing your content. More importantly, such articles are not going to get you on the radar of industrial conferences. In other words, by sticking to your practice, you are disinviting yourself from networking opportunities that could be crucial for building your business.
Industry Articles: Four Simple Steps
Luckily for you, most of your competitors are making the same mistake of ignoring their clients’ industries. If you want to take advantage of their ignorance and start writing client-oriented articles, I recommend that you focus on: (i) picking a trending topic that clearly interests your target clients; (ii) helping them see the future by making a guess; (iii) getting their attention by playing the fear card; and (iv) demonstrating your unique value as an attorney by providing some practical legal tips.
First, you want to make sure that your topic is truly of interest to industry players. You can best accomplish this by reading reports and publications that are dedicated to the industry (e.g., industrial reports from top consultancies like McKinsey). Based on such reports, you can easily find a topic that addresses a key industry trend. For example, if you wanted to target the automobile industry in Central Europe, you could start by writing about the problems that were already facing the industry during the pre-COVID-19 days (e.g., Trump’s threats of tariffs, or profit warnings by major German and French automobile parts suppliers).
Second, pleasantly surprise your future clients by making a prediction about what will happen in the near future. (Please note: You are not creating any legal liability by making such a prediction, but you are demonstrating that you are not a typical backwards-thinking lawyer.) For example, due to the additional burden of the COVID-19 crisis, you might predict a much greater slow-down in the auto industry leading to a dog-eat-dog environment and massive consolidation.
Third, as you are a lawyer, you need to sell with fear, so you want to highlight the legal risks that clients will face based on your future prediction. For example, you could explain that companies without appropriate defense mechanisms against hostile takeovers will face a serious risk of being taken over by competitors.
Fourth, you finally get to promote your legal skills by providing your future clients with some practical advice about what they should do in the near future. For example, you could provide some corporate advice by explaining how to sell the management team on setting up poison pills and other corporate defense measures.
Clients are always looking for lawyers that understand their industry. Wouldn’t it be cool to be that lawyer?
Aaron Muhly is an American lawyer who has been training European professionals on clear writing and effective communication for over 15 years.