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Calibrate these five aspects of your thought-leadership content — or risk it failing miserably

Calibrate these five aspects of your thought-leadership content — or risk it failing miserably

If you are not calibrating the thought-leadership marketing and business development content you publish and put out into the world, you’re making a mistake.

If you are not calibrating your content, you are just publishing what you think your target audience — current and prospective clients and referral sources — want in the form of your content. But you really have no idea and you’re just putting that content out there blindly.

It’s a one-sided relationship, and we all know how one-sided relationships go when one side just does what they want without factoring in what the other side wants.

To avoid having a one-sided relationship with the consumers of your thought-leadership marketing and business development content, you should be calibrating this content to fit what your consumers want from that kind of content.

Here are the five elements of legal thought-leadership marketing and business development content lawyers and law firm marketers should consider calibrating.

Element #1: Substance

First and foremost, lawyers and their firms should be calibrating the substance of their content.

What kind of content does your target audience want from you?

Do they want updates regarding specific developments in the law, like a new and important court decision, proposed legislation, or administrative agency action?

Or do they want trends? Do they want a recap of recent trends over the past quarter or over the past six months regarding the area of law you practice?

Do they want original research from your firm regarding legal developments?

Do they want industry news mixed in with your legal analysis?

Do they want you and your colleagues to analyze what’s happening in their industry?

Of course, when you are talking about the takeaways from a particular legal development or industry news item, are you actually calibrating those takeaways to be what your target audience cares about and/or what is relevant to them? Or are you just talking in broad strokes because that’s easier for you to do?

Do you prefer to watch a video regarding this topic instead? Here you go!

Element #2: Style

The substance of your thought-leadership marketing and business development content might attract your target audience to that content, but its style is what will keep them coming back for more.

How does your target audience want to be communicated to?

Do they want polished, typical law firm writing? Or do they want casual, informal writing?

Do they want the kind of writing they’d see on non-legal and non-business blogs that has snark and attitude?

Remember, your and your law firm’s content isn’t just competing with other law firms’ content. It’s competing with all of the content your target audience consumes.

Instagram Reels.


YouTube videos.

Amazon product pages.

News sites.

News podcasts.

Entertainment podcasts.


Food blogs.

Gossip blogs.

Sports blogs.

Your content is competing with all these other kinds of content, so it needs to be calibrated to match the style your target audience will find most compelling, most interesting, and thus, most likely to want to consume and digest.

Element #3: Structure

How does your target audience want your content to be structured?

Do they like the typical 1000- to 2000-word articles that law firms typically put out?

Or would they prefer a 750-word article? Or a 500-word article?

What about a 300-word article, Axios-style, with lots of bullet points?

Do they want to consume content in email form? If so, do they want an entire 2000-word article emailed to them? Or do they prefer links in an email, after introductory paragraphs, that link to full-length articles on your firm’s website?

Additionally, do they like the structure of classic business writing? Do they want three to five or six sentences in a paragraph? Or do they want short paragraphs, say with one to three sentences? Do they want a little bit more of an airy structure in the form of more white space as compared to the typical dense business writing structure?

Element #4: Form

Elements two and three assume the content we’re talking about calibrating is written content.

But maybe your target audience doesn’t want written content.

Maybe they want videos.

Maybe they want podcast episodes.

Maybe they want webinars.

If that’s the case, you should be calibrating the form of your content to match what your target audience wants.

Remember, the name of the game is producing content that is going to be relevant and compelling to your target audience, but above all else, will be consumed by them. That means putting it in the form they will be most likely to consume based on their preferences.

(This doesn’t, however, require you to reinvent the wheel. You can easily repurpose your content into multiple forms of media. For example, you can turn YouTube videos and webinars into podcast episodes, podcast episodes into blog posts, webinars into YouTube videos, etc.)

Element #5: Frequency

How frequently does your target audience want to hear from you?

Weekly? Biweekly? Monthly? Daily?

How frequent is too frequent? How frequent is not frequent enough?

Once you get a sense of the frequency with which your audience wants to hear from you, you may be able to more intelligently calibrate the other elements we discussed. For example, if your audience is giving you the sense they want frequent but short bursts of content from you or your firm, that will guide your content creation and distribution in a particular direction.

Likewise, if your audience is telling you they want occasional deep dives, that will guide your content creation and distribution in practically the opposite direction.

Content calibration requires engaging your target audience about their preferences

As you could have guessed, the key to calibrating these five elements of your or your firm’s thought-leadership content is getting feedback from your target audience members.

You need to be talking to them every so often, taking their content-consuming temperature, and getting a sense of their preferences for the substance, style, structure, form, and frequency of the professional content they consume. Once you do this, you can calibrate your content accordingly.

You don’t have to sit them down for an hour to have these discussions. These conversations can be weaved into your regular conversations with them regarding the substantive work you’re doing for them.

At the same time, if you ask five or ten different clients or referral sources, they’re probably going to tell you five or ten different answers. That’s fine. What you’re trying to do is get feedback and find patterns in this feedback so you can create content that is more likely than not to be of the substance, style, structure, form, and frequency that the majority of the audience members you’ve spoken with prefer.

Avoid a one-sided content creation-consumption relationship

Like I said earlier, it’s rarely a good thing in a relationship when one side says what it wants without factoring in what the other side wants to hear.

This is as true when it comes to your and your firm’s thought-leadership marketing and business development content as it is your personal and professional relationships.

Calibrate your content along the five elements above to maximize its effectiveness and its likelihood of being consumed. Content that’s more likely to be consumed is more likely to do its job, which is position you and your colleagues as authorities regarding the areas of law you practice.

Thinking about bringing on an outside writer to help your law firm strategize and create compelling thought-leadership marketing and business development content? Click here to schedule a 30-minute Content Strategy Audit to learn if collaborating with an outside writer is the right move for you and your firm.

Wayne Pollock, a former Am Law 50 senior litigation associate, is the founder of Copo Strategies, a legal services and communications firm, and the Law Firm Editorial Service, a content strategy and ghostwriting service for lawyers and their law firms. The Law Firm Editorial Service helps Big Law and boutique law firm partners, and their firms, grow their practices and prominence by collaborating with them to strategize and ethically ghostwrite book-of-business-building marketing and business development content.

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