Use your bios to address what’s important to your clients
These days, most potential clients’ first interaction with an attorney is through the firm’s website and their individual bio page. Sadly, most attorney bios are no more than a litany of straightforward facts that outline education, areas of practice, accomplishments and credentials.
Statistics from a number of legal marketing firms measuring what percentage of time visitors to law firm websites spend on attorney bios range anywhere from 55% to 75%. This broad spread in numbers is due to how each firm monitors traffic to its clients’ sites, as well as other factors. Regardless, the fact remains that if over half the time visitors spend on law firm websites is on lawyer bios, then most lawyers and law firms aren’t leveraging those bios to their fullest potential.
So what should a bio be? Perhaps that’s best answered by first addressing what it shouldn’t be — a resume. Instead, an attorney’s website bio should be approached as another form of marketing, following the same rules that apply to all good marketing messages. At its most basic, a good attorney bio addresses: 1) What he does for clients; 2) How he works with clients; and 3) Why he does what he does for clients.
Note the emphasis on “clients.” Even though your attorneys’ bios are about them, they are not written for them — they are written for the people they want to have as clients. That means the bio has to address what is important to clients — what they most want to know. This isn’t necessarily the same as what attorneys think clients should want to know.
Perhaps it’s the “just the facts” mentality of the attorney psyche. The majority of lawyer bios outline their areas of practice, their experience and their education. They might also list their various accolades and successes, along with publications and appearances. What most of them don’t include is anything that relates to how they work with clients and how they help them achieve success — in other words, anything that sheds light on why clients would want to work with them.
What a bio should be
A good, marketing-focused attorney bio should not only address who they are, what they do and how long and well they’ve done it. The best attorney bios: 1) Identify the target audience; 2) Address that audience’s most common problems or challenges; 3) Show how that attorney helps clients or solves problems for them; and 4) Explain how their approach is different.
What follows are a variety of ways to improve attorney bios and make them more marketing-focused — and therefore more persuasive — in order to turn potential clients into actual ones.
Focus on what they do for clients
Certainly one’s education, experience, success and awards are important — and they have a place in your attorneys’ bios. But instead of making those things the focus, think of them more as supporting points for what your attorneys offer clients. Use the “what’s in it for me” test on your bios. Put yourself in the clients’ shoes and then ask, “How does this address my main issues and concerns?” Text that describes how a lawyer works with clients and his approach to client matters does two things: It tells clients (or potential clients) what’s in it for them by working with that lawyer, making it more relevant and oriented to how the attorney fills their needs and it reveals some of their personality as well. Including personal quotes or client testimonials about how a lawyer works with clients or approaches their practice also helps to make their bio more engaging.
Speak in the client’s language
Refrain from peppering bios with industry jargon and legalese, unless you are sure that clients understand and appreciate it. Most do not. If the clients don’t talk that way, your lawyers shouldn’t talk that way when speaking to them in their bios. Use the language clients use to describe their legal problems, business issues, etc.
Showcase involvement in what interests the client
Clients want to know that their lawyers are connected to the issues and developments that affect them. So, in addition to highlighting an attorney’s involvement in the community and legal associations, be sure to address their involvement in associations and organizations that are connected to clients’ industries and businesses. This includes adding links to any blogs and articles they have written, speeches or presentations they have given, as well as events they have attended or are planning to attend, that have relevance to their clients.
Include links to other profiles
Don’t forget about linking to your attorneys’ other online profiles. This is especially important if the audience is heavily involved in using social media. And certainly don’t forget to link those social media profiles back to the attorney bios and the firm’s website.
Include or update photos
It’s amazing just how many bios feature photos that are a decade or more older. Perhaps the only thing worse than an outdated photo is no photo at all. In today’s day and age, with photos so common on the Internet, particularly on profile pages, if a photo isn’t there, it may look like your lawyers are hiding something. Posting a photograph helps clients put a face to the name. Also, invest some time and money into having the photos professionally done by a professional photographer. This helps maintain uniformity across your attorney bio pages — you’d be amazed at what good lighting can achieve.
Make it easy to contact your lawyers
If the whole purpose of posting an online bio is to help your lawyers connect with clients and make it as easy as possible for clients to connect with them. Provide several options for contact. Make them easy to find by placing them front and center, right near the name. Some clients don’t like to use the telephone and would prefer e-mail, so make both available.
We live in a multimedia world, so offer all different styles of information about your lawyers via text, audio, video and photos. It may not be the right thing for every attorney at your firm, but for those who work in IP, Media & Entertainment (especially Digital Media), Technology, Internet and Advertising law, it can be very worthwhile.
Do you know those people who go on and on about themselves and what they do? Don’t let your attorneys be those people. Like in all marketing materials, brevity is best. Use the printer test. If an entire bio can’t be printed on two pages or less, it’s too long. If an attorney has accomplished a lot that is relevant to his clients, consider drop-downs that can expand or contract the bio, so that the audience can easily find and read the information that interests them.
Rather than giving your attorney bios short shrift as something you have to put up because it’s expected, be strategic and make them work for both your attorneys and your clients.