JD Supra just published their inaugural Readers’ Choice awards, featuring top authors and top content across 26 categories in 2015. The accompanying report provides critical insight into who’s reading what – and in which industry – that every lawyer should know. Some observations:
Clients Read What They Need To Know
First, the awards make clear that the “secret” of leading authors on JD Supra is to give the people what they want. These authors are writing about the issues relevant to the companies they want to reach. That may seem self-evident, but it’s not. Because it means you have to step away from your perspective as advisor, as someone who knows what her clients SHOULD be worrying about, and step into the shoes of those clients trying to understand a hundred different and diverse legal issues all at once. Of course you can (and should) write about issues you think your potential clients need to know. But if you’re not analyzing the developments they think are important, you’re not going to gain the credibility that will lead them to take your word for it.
This is particularly important because the issues keeping your clients up at night may not always be the ones you think. A top concern of Silicon Valley, according to the report? Immigration. Of insurance companies? Cybersecurity and data breaches. Of businesses in the broadcast media industry? Employer liability. And of course you may already know this (200 lawyers writing on JD Supra did…), but the point is the same: you’ve got to drill down and figure out what’s important to the people you’re writing for, if you want them to read your work.
Content Marketing Works
Second, the reader analysis done by the folks at JD Supra demonstrates that content marketing is working: industry insiders really do read the legal analysis and insight that you post online. A quick look at the “notable readers” makes that clear: people from Chevron, Johnson & Johnson, Amazon.com, Time Warner Cable, Wells Fargo, Cisco, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, Bank of America, Office Depot, Medtronic, etc., are going to the Internet for guidance on understanding and responding to the legal and business issues they face every day.
Less Is Definitely Not More
And finally, while it may seem obvious, the awards really drive home the point that you shouldn’t ignore a topic because you’ve already written about wage and hour law, or because your competitors have covered data breaches in the insurance industry, or because there’s nothing more to say about the Affordable Care Act. Your job – like every other lawyer – is to demonstrate expertise on the subjects that matter to your clients. A single article does not do that: you must write about the topics you know again and again and again. People are going to read your work when they need it, so your job is to make sure that when they are trying to understand an issue, your analysis is available to them. You do this the way almost every author in these awards did it: by turning up again and again and writing what matters to your readers and clients.
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First published on JD Supra