First Impressions: How a Well-Written Biography Brings in Clients

We've written about it before, but first impressions are crucial and you often only get one chance at a successful one. Humans make immediate judgements and it impacts decision-making.

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Beyond your Google listing, the first thing a potential client looks at is your biography page.

Plenty of attorneys miss out by not focusing on the right thing, using the wrong language and providing conflicting information to the reader. And as a Super Lawyers selectee, you already have an advantage on the competition when it comes to impacting the legal consumer's decision-making process. When people are facing high stakes legal issues, they want an expert and they want the best. With a properly written biography, you can showcase your credentials in the right way and provide potential clients a picture into why you are the right attorney for the job.

Here are a few guidelines to create a biography that sparks interest:

Focus on the Reader

I'm sure you've heard this before, but your biography isn't about you. Your marketing efforts should be outward-facing. You may believe that potential clients only want to read about qualifications, education and experience, along with specific legal information that implies expertise and credibility. The reality for most, however, is the opposite.

Focus your efforts outward by asking questions, making "you" statements and by reproducing the experience of interacting with an attorney face-to-face. The legal industry is intimidating for most people, and they want to make a reassuring personal connection with the human being who is going to represent their very important legal matters.

Think about when you meet a client for the first time: Did you talk about yourself for 30 minutes and then send them on their merry way? Would you want to spend time with someone who boasts about themselves without asking any questions about you? Doubtful. Treat your biography in the same way: put readers before yourself.

When talking about your qualifications and accolades, make sure the reader knows why your selection matters to their potential case. The expertise you've gained from previous cases isn't important unless you show how it will provide value in the next case. Legal consumers look to expertise first when deciding on an attorney, so your Super Lawyers selection matters when communicating your skills and determination, but it should be placed into the same problem-solving context as the rest of your biography.

Most legal consumers are looking for enough information to educate themselves so they don't feel ignorant during their initial interaction with your firm.

Communicate Your Specialty

What is your special sauce? Do you have a niche practice area? Do you enjoy complex real estate cases? Your biography is an opportunity to let potential clients into your personality, but it's really about speaking to their needs. Clients aren't coming to you with six different cases on six separate aspects of personal injury law. It's OK to focus your efforts to reach the clients you're aiming to get. In fact, it's the best way to ensure you don't end up representing cases you don't really want to take. Give just enough of your uniqueness to differentiate yourself for a potential customer who knows nothing about you.

Be Concise, Accurate and Truthful

More than 50 percent, and growing, of legal consumers interact with online law firm information via a mobile phone or other smaller device, like tablets, according to the 2018 U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey. In 2018, 8,000-word bios with dissertations on specific statutes and other purely legal information are counterproductive. We may hear that "long form content performs better with the search engines," but it is often unhelpful when that content results in poor usability and no conversion. Content should be just long enough to adequately and accurately discuss the topic at hand to reassure readers and inspire them to take a desired action.

In addition, Google and other search engines are smart and getting smarter. The days of trying to "trick" Google are over. The goal today should be to communicate effectively with Google, and to send relevant and accurate messages that help Google associate attorney content with qualified prospects. Always be accurate and truthful.

Avoid Jargon and Cliché

Attorneys in different practice areas will employ different marketing techniques based on their firm goals and desired clients. A business law firm may feel that their clients are "sophisticated," but that does not necessarily mean the reader wants to read "expeditious" instead of "fast" or "acrimonious" instead of "angry." Yes, you might be a "bulldog for your clients," but you don't need to say it in your biography. You probably "fight hard for your clients" and so does every other attorney. Words like "polestar" and "vanguard" may inspire pride in an attorney, but it can also build an online barrier to usability, conversion and firm marketing goals. Even smart people don't want to work too hard when reading online content.

By spending a sliver of time getting these tips right, you will upgrade your biography and provide potential clients the right amount of information to choose you for answering their legal questions.