Case law and content marketingYour years as a law student made you an expert in absorbing information. Long-remembered case law contains several pointers about how legal content marketing can be made more memorable and engaging.

Marketing is about memory: conveying a particular message or impression on a would-be client in such a way that it sticks. The day-to-day practice of law may seem a long way from the more plastic arts of marketing, but lawyers have one particular advantage: they used to be law students.

Law students are required to memorise vast amounts of information: statutory provisions, procedure, case law. For the most part it is dry stuff and yet it must somehow become imprinted on the mind of the student.

Case law is a gift in this respect. The more colourful the set of facts, the easier the principle is to remember. Who could forget poor Mrs Donoghue, enjoying her ginger beer ice cream float contaminated by a snail? Or Mrs Carlill of Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co, tucked up in bed with flu despite using the magic smoke ball? Or the equally memorable Mrs Miller, who did not care for cricket?

Creating effective content marketing can borrow many of the characteristics of law reports. A specific message or principle is conveyed using a vivid and memorable story. Let’s look at how this could work in practice.

1. Establish your authority

Law reports set out the relevant court, judges and precedents. There is no doubt that judgments are authoritative and from a respected source. For opinion pieces, use a brief explanation of the writer’s authority to comment on the subject. This could include years of experience, high-profile cases or relevant committee appointments.

2. Use concrete examples

Without some solid examples to discuss, you will end up with a page of puff. It’s important to achieve a balance between providing an off-putting level of detail and writing superficial content that makes no impact. Telling stories about particular people in specific situations, even if these are imaginary, will be much more engaging for readers and therefore more memorable. Use vivid imagery and even graphic illustrations to add colour to your writing.

3. Avoid jargon and vague language

Each legal judgment is another brick in the ongoing construction of common law. There is no place for ambiguity or trendy language. If you are talking about a subject, provide brief definitions to ensure your reader is clear about the subject matter. Re-read your work and clarify or cut any sections that tend to waffle.

4. Acknowledge doubts

It is impossible to know everything. Your content will be more authoritative if you identify areas of uncertainty, just as judges note where legal precedents are ambiguous or in conflict. If you are writing about the development of commodity trading regulation, for example, there is plenty of room for doubt about how altered regulation will impact the market and how this fits with wider international trends and pressures. Making an educated guess, but spelling out the areas of ambiguity, is much more valuable than glossing over doubts.

5. Have a clear, concise conclusion

Just as case law boils down a set of facts in combination with established law to produce a principle, your content marketing should have an identifiable nugget of truth which readers can take away. Make a statement about this in your first paragraph, and reiterate in your final paragraph together with a call to action.

If your content marketing could be more memorable, why not get in touch with M2 Bespoke to discuss how you can develop your future content strategy?

Ben Hollom

November 16, 2015