Welcome to Marketing Monday, where I give you tips and tricks for being your own content marketer. This week’s post is all about how being a content marketer is kind of like being a lawyer … at least TV trial lawyers.
Growing up, one of the many things I wanted to be was a lawyer. My mom was a lawyer and I even spent summers in college working at a law firm. In fact, I still write blog posts for a couple different law firms in my current profession as a freelance content marketer. One of my clients told me he was impressed at how I made such dry material so interesting, but to me, it’s not dry. People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake in a very real way and I get passionate about that, which makes it easy for me to bring the people and their stories first and foremost in my writing.
I’ll admit that a certain amount of my fascination with the law comes from the courtroom dramas I’ve seen – both on TV and on the big screen. I recognize that, in reality, the lives of most lawyers don’t look anything like that – that there’s much more time spent doing paperwork and negotiating than time in the courtroom. And let’s face it, I’m not good at thinking on my feet. I’m a planner, which is why I do so much better with the written word (which can be edited countless times before publication), so even if I had gone to law school, the courtroom would still not be the best place for me.
And yet it’s hard for me to resist getting swept up in the drama of it all. What can I say? I love good TV. I was watching For The People the other day, and while each side was giving their closing statements to the jury I was thinking, “I could do that.” Then I thought, “I kind of already do that!”
The Art of Persuasion
Like I said, I fully understand that the life of a TV lawyer rarely looks anything like the life of a real lawyer. Most real-life lawyers rarely, if ever get to see the inside of a courtroom – and they certainly don’t look like the courtrooms on TV. But the job of a trial lawyer is very similar to the job of a content marketer in one distinct way: both our jobs rely on convincing people.
For trial lawyers, they have to convince someone (a jury, a judge, a panel of judges, or an arbitrator) that their client is innocent or that the other attorney’s client is guilty. Our job as marketers is to convince people to buy our clients’ products or services and the ways in which we do that bears some resemblance to a trial lawyer’s job.
When I watch characters on TV that I admire, I don’t just think, “I could do that,” or “I wish I could do that.” I tend to think critically about how the characters do what they do, and in the case of For The People, when the stakes are someone who made a mistake and might potentially end up paying the ultimate price for that mistake, I thought about how those TV lawyers made their case to that TV jury and the answer was relatability. The ones who were successful were the ones who made the jury see their client as a person – a fallible human, just like them, who’s capable of making mistakes, but does not truly intend anyone harm and is ultimately not a threat to society.
Sound like a content marketer? If not, bear with me.
I wrote a whole blog post last month about the importance of making sure your content is relatable. If we can’t relate to our clients as fellow human beings – and successfully get them to relate to us – then we have no hope of growing our business or the business of our clients.
Admittedly, defense lawyers are careful about what they reveal about their clients in the courtroom. They want to disclose the things that make them seem relatable and conceal anything that might make them seem like a criminal, and as content marketers, we’re not all that different. We can admit to our mistakes, but conceal our nights out on the town binge drinking. There’s a difference between making a video without your makeup on to look more real versus making a video in first thing in the morning when you’re still in your PJs and haven’t brushed your hair yet – one makes you relatable, the other just makes you look unprofessional.
So when you’re creating your marketing content this week, keep in mind how you’re going to convince your audience they want to buy from you, and in the immortal words of Billy Flynn: razzle dazzle ’em.
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