Persuasion and law go hand in hand with the use of language that is often very complex. Writing has long been a go-to option lawyers use to build their personal brands. Some of their writing is meant to be consumed by other lawyers while other content is written for client and business development purposes. Writing for a file, however, is very different than writing for business development. Below are nine tips for improving business development writing. Understanding these tips—and the differences in writing styles—will make writing for business development much easier.
- Have a purpose: Create content that is useful and needs sharing.
- Don’t bury the lead: Don’t keep readers waiting until the end; engage at the outset in case they don’t read the end of the article.
- Know your audience: When writing for lawyers, using complex legal jargon may make sense, but if your readers are non-lawyers the language used should be different and, perhaps, simpler.
- Do your research: Don’t just skim the topic; know the topic.
- Be clear and concise: Articles don’t need to be long to be effective. Be clear in the points you will cover, and then cover them.
- Know the platform: There is a world of difference between a 10,000-word legal journal article, a 1,200-word magazine article, a 600-word blog, a 200-word newsletter article and a 280-character message on Twitter.
- Your article, your voice: Make sure the article reflects your firm’s brand while reflecting your own personality.
- Words matter: One of the most important things lawyers can do as they improve their business development writing is move beyond legalese and make points that are easily understood by the audience. In so doing, you are able to help your clients more clearly understand how the matters being addressed affect them.
- Edit and proofread: Do not rush to publish. Have someone edit and proofread your work. Most members of the marketing team are not lawyers so if they can understand it, it’s likely that your clients will be able to, too.
Really good lawyers are often really good storytellers so it is not surprising that many of the world’s best-selling and highly acclaimed authors have legal designations. These tips may not make you the next John Grisham, Robert Rotenberg or Catherine McKenzie, but they will help ensure your message is understood by your intended audience.