Much has been said — and written — about what it takes to write a good law firm bio. But what about your website’s practice or industry descriptions?
For starters, set aside your current practice area text and prepare to begin anew with these seven tips for creating more engaging and effective practice and industry pages.
1. Put a Face to Your Client
This is a standard marketing exercise, where the first step is identifying your client persona. For this to work, you need to fully spell it out — as in, grab a pen and paper, or do this exercise on your computer. Answer these questions for each current client:
- Instinctively, you might know who comes to your firm and why, but it has to be nailed down. Who are they, and where do they work? (If you have several types of clients, list the primary ones.)
- What titles do your clients have?
- Do their issues require immediate attention, or do they have long-term concerns?
- Do your credentials match the client’s needs? Meaning: Is the client looking for what your firm is offering?
2. Name Their Issues
Here’s where you can apply all of those fun metrics you likely have at your fingertips. Opening the section with a good lead (or lede, in journalism lingo) for the Corporate practice could come from search terms directly gathered from your Google Analytics data, such as: “Clients turn to our firm when they are in the pre-planning stages of their company’s first IPO.”
3. Describe the Steps Your Team Will Take to Help Them Right Away
Tell them how you will counsel/advise/help them cope with their challenges right now. No, this is not where you insert your honors and rankings. However, if you are a plaintiff’s attorney, you can include settlement amounts and focus on how your results benefited the client.
4. Show How Your Team Truly Understands Their Industry
It’s not often that you get the opportunity to tout your group’s university or industry credentials on a practice or industry page. Still, in specific industries, clients will want to know that their lawyers have the chops. Need to see a good example? Here’s one from MoFo’s Life Sciences & Healthcare Industry Group:
“Our Life Sciences Group is a unique amalgamation of lawyers with extensive training in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals coupled with the cutting-edge application of data science. We apply this combination for our digital health, biotechnology, medical device, pharmaceutical, and agtech clients, bridging the gap between the law and science.”
5. Less Really Is More
While Jakob Nielson and Don Norman may not be names in your household, somewhere in my office there’s a dog-eared copy of their classic “Designing Web Usability.” This book remains the gold standard for anyone involved in web design, and I advise my clients (yes, even the most- jaded lawyers) to follow what Nielson and Norman still believe:
“We’ve been saying this since 1997: People rarely read online — they’re far more likely to scan than read word for word. That’s one fundamental truth of online information-seeking behavior that hasn’t changed in 23 years and which has substantial implications for how we create digital content.”
6. Lose the Dense Copy
As I’ve noted in presentations to law firm marketers, if you need to take a breath before you get to the end of a sentence, the copy is too dense. It cannot be stated enough: Adding bullets, creating white space with paragraph breaks, and bolding subheads or intros, like “Lose the dense copy,” helps keep your audience informed and interested.
7. How Client-Focused Is Your Firm, Really?
Perhaps you know that many pharmacies are located in the back of drugstores because you might be tempted to pick up the higher-margin items while you’re waiting for your prescription. Grocery stores, too, pull out all the stops to boost their wafer-thin margins. “The Secrets Behind Your Grocery Store’s Layout” from Real Simple is a great lesson on how product placement affects the way we shop. The article also offers tips on how not to overspend! All of these approaches are super-smart business tactics.
Pillsbury gets an A+ on its “Services” landing page because it speaks directly to the firm’s industry offerings and quickly points the reader to the related pages:
“Pillsbury helps shape the industries in which our clients compete, from energy and financial services to real estate and technology. We’ve organized ourselves this way to meet the business needs of our clients.”
Yet, for all the simplicity, beauty and clarity of this landing page, Pillsbury still can’t let go of its precious practice and industry area pages. In 2009, when I worked on the website, the site had 135 individual practice and industry pages. Today, the firm boasts 186 pages to choose from its “A–Z Index.”
What Should Readers Do When They’ve Finished Reading Your Practice Description?
In marketing, that moment is called the “call to action.” You need to keep that in mind before you begin updating your practice and industry page descriptions.
However, not everyone is poised to buy or even reach out to a firm at that very moment. This is especially true for clients seeking outside corporate counsel. Bryan Cave’s “Binder” feature does a good job for clients and prospects during the vetting process. Like Amazon’s “Your Shopping List,” Bryan Cave’s copy explains, “Your binder is like an online shopping cart. To add something, go to any page (a partner bio, an article in the careers section, etc.) and click the ‘Add to Binder’ button.”
Plaintiff firms have the call to action down to a science. From pop-up chatbots and the firm’s phone number prominently displayed in humongous type to quick links to their Contact page, these firms are clear that they’re ready to help!
But if your firm is a general business or corporate-focused firm, your call to action shouldn’t be too subtle, either. Don’t overlook the obvious: Every one of your practice and industry page descriptions must include the lawyer’s name(s) and contact information. Avoiding these difficult conversations — like whose name should be listed — can quickly turn into lost business for your firm, as I described recently on my blog, in “When internal firm politics play out on your firm’s website. (A true story.)”
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