There are a lot of lawyers that have email newsletters or physical newsletters, and they all make the same mistake over and over again.
Here’s an example of the first main mistake. This guy added me to his email list, and I did not opt-in. That’s a big no-no right there because automatically, I’m annoyed with him. But there’s a bigger problem that I have because I’m still going to read it because I always look at marketing material.
At the very top, the writer said (I guess he’s a tax lawyer), “Blending left brain thinking with right brain artistry to make tax law a little less mind-numbing.” Okay. That’s kind of a cool premise. And then, I go through and read his content.
“New Willful FBAR case is Eerily Foreboding for Taxpayer.” What the hell does that mean? You’ve got to remember, I am not a lawyer. Most lawyers make this mistake. They go to law school, and they get this high-level education. They learn to write at a high level, they learn to read at a high level, they learn to problem-solve at a high level, and that’s great.
The problem is that most people that you’re writing to are not lawyers and they don’t have that level of training. “A quick Primer on Form 5471 & Some Hidden Pitfalls to Avoid.” What does that mean? I have no idea. And then there is this: “Form 5471 is triggered in situations where a ‘U.S. Person’ owns an interest in a “foreign” (non-U.S.) corporation.”
So, why would you use a headline like this? Why not “If you own a non-U.S. corporation, here are some things to avoid.” Or, “Here are some traps.” It’s just something where you’ll get so much more mileage and see so much more success if you stop writing like a lawyer and start writing like the person that you’re trying to target.
I’m not saying you have to write it at a third-grade level, but some of this stuff has to have some thought. I think that he’s trying to do this an that’s why he’s got the pictures here, the dinosaur, and even at the top here. They’re trying to make tax law less mind-numbing, but I think I’ve gotten balanced statements that are less mind-numbing than this content here.
Using The Hemingway app
Then, you come in here and see this giant block of text that nobody’s going to read. There is an app I use all the time, and it will help. It’s called the Hemingway app. If you throw your content in here, blog post or whatever it happened to be, what this does is show you that everything that has a color is too hard to read.
This says this is at a 12th-grade level. Most people read at a 3rd-grade level. So, this isn’t going to work. I appreciate writing the content, I appreciate the effort, but you’ve got to use headlines that draw people in, that show the benefit of reading and let the average person know what this content is actually about. What am I going to get out of reading this entire block of text?
Write For The End User
Now, the next thing you need to do is when you write the content, it needs to be written at a 3rd or 4th-grade level, not a 12th-grade level. Actually, this is probably higher than 12, I don’t know if Hemingway goes higher than 12.
But, the Hemingway app is cool because you can come in here and you can see where your sentences are too long, where you use adverbs or passive voice, where there’s an alternative phrase that could be simpler, and when sentences are hard to read.
You’ve got to remember, you’ve got to think about the end user. That’s why all the lawyer marketing steps that I create are very simple. I could go tech-heavy on everything. I know a lot about coding, I know a lot about search engine optimization, but I don’t do it because I know my end audience.
I know that lawyers don’t necessarily know about coding. Some do, but most don’t. Most don’t want these high-tech heavy things. They want high-level things that are actionable for them.
Break Up Those Blocks Of Text
Now, another thing. This giant block of text. You’ve got to break this up. I understand that this is probably grammatically correct, but in the world that we live in, every sentence or two needs to be its own paragraph, just because that’s how the internet is. You need to break stuff up.
Moz – a great example
Let’s look at Moz. Moz has a really good example on their blog. Take a look at how they lay everything out. See how much easier it is to read, and how the spaces are arranged in there?
It has nice line height, which is the distance between one line and the next line. It has headers that talk about the different sections. This is just so much easier to read compared to that wall of text here.
Don’t Make The Reader Work So Hard
I’m not trying to call this guy out, but I kind of am. First of all, nobody’s getting to this page, or at least very few people are, because this headline is not telling them anything. “New Willful FBAR Case is Eerily Foreboding for Taxpayer.” I have no idea what that means, and I don’t even really care because I get a headache just from looking at that.
The problem is when I have to work, and when the reader has to work to figure out what you’re talking about, they’re just going to go to something else. So, I’m not going to read that because I don’t know what it is.
The key question: Who is my target audience?
“The Onus of Large Foreign Gifts and Inheritances.” I kind of understand that, but still, that can be made so much easier and so much more appealing. So, keep this in mind.
When you are writing a blog post, when you’re writing an email, when you’re recording a video, when you’re doing anything, the first thing you need to think about is who is my target audience. Who is the person who’s going to be reading this?
Will I Be Understood By My Target Audience?
Then, you need to look at the headline and ask yourself objectively, “Is this headline or title going to be understood by the reader? Are they going to see a benefit in reading the entire article? Is it a strong benefit?” It’s got to be a very strong benefit. What are they going to get out of reading the article?
You’ve got to remember, people’s favorite subject is themselves. They only care about what they’re going to get out of it. You’ve got to make it about them, and you’ve got to make it very easy for them to digest.
Ask Yourself These Questions
Then, when you get to the article, you have to ask yourself, is this a giant wall of text that they’re not going to read or is it written in a way that they’re going to be able to digest and understand? Are they going to get something out of it, and is it going to provide a benefit? Is it formatted in a way that is going to be easier to digest?
I see this mistake over and over and over again, and it’s something that’s so easily fixed because the reality is that a lot of times, it’s harder to write like this than it is to write at a 3rd or 4th-grade level.