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Drawings of hearts and minds.

Is your thought leadership chasing eyeballs or hearts and minds?

It’s tempting to craft thought leadership that chases eyeballs and racks up large numbers of followers and subscribers. But if your content isn’t winning over your target audience’s hearts and minds, it won’t help you build your legal practice or prominence.

When you conceive of and draft your thought leadership, are you aiming for your target audience’s eyeballs or are you aiming for their hearts and minds?

As you attempt to establish yourself as a thought leader, are you aiming for awareness—eyeballs—or affinity and preference—hearts and minds?

To become an authority within the area of law you practice or the industry you serve, you will need to aim for the latter. 

Sure, it’s tempting to try to build a large number of email subscribers, blog readers, or LinkedIn followers. But those numbers are vanity numbers. Your number of social media followers or email subscribers, along with $5, will get you a cup of coffee.

Prefer to watch a video about this topic instead? Here you go!

It’s not enough to simply be known

What you’ll want to focus on is winning over the hearts and minds of your target audience because you’ll want to stand out from the other attorneys using their thought leadership to get on the radar of the same clients and referral sources you’re targeting with your thought leadership.

In a crowded marketplace like the legal industry, you want to stand out from the crowd. You want to be remembered as THE attorney who does what you do or who serves the industry you serve. 

The way you do that is through a robust thought leadership campaign which includes writing, speaking, videos and/or podcasts.

But you don’t want to just be known. 

Of course, being known is better than not being known. But it’s not enough. You want to be thought of first. You want to be in the hearts and minds of your target audience.

How do you do this through thought leadership? Well, it’s not enough to consistently publish thought leadership.

You’ve got to stand out, which you can do in one of two primary ways. 

Adopt a view of the world held by your target audience

One way to win your target audience’s hearts and minds is to adopt a particular angle from which you view the world that is close to, if not the same as, the way your target audience (including clients and referral sources) sees the world.

Whether you’re a white-collar criminal defense attorney, an M&A corporate attorney, or an IP attorney, you want to align your worldview with that of your target audience’s. You make your worldview clear, and announce it repeatedly to the world, through the commentary you put into your thought leadership blog posts, email newsletters, videos, podcasts, and other pieces of content.

You want your target audience to think of you as that attorney who has this really interesting view of the world as it relates to the area of law you practice—which they find interesting because it mirrors their view of the world. Then, they will come back to you and your content because it resonates with them, which naturally helps elevate you above and beyond the attorneys you’re competing with for those types of clients’ business (and your referral sources’ clients’ business). 

Own a style that is uniquely yours

Another way to win the hearts and minds of your target audience is to develop your unique writing and/or speaking style that reels your audience in. This isn’t as hard as some people think.

Maybe you have natural charisma that emanates from your voice—whether on paper or when spoken aloud.

Maybe, given your background, you have interesting perspectives on topics that are relevant to your target audience.

Maybe you are adept at being sarcastic without rubbing people the wrong way.

Maybe you can inject wittiness or humor into your writing or speaking in a way that people aren’t used to seeing in legal-related content—and without putting people off.

However you develop your unique voice, when you develop one that stands out from the crowd that members of your target audience are drawn to, you become memorable to them. If they see you delivering quality content over time, they will become naturally attracted to this combination of unique voice and relevant, valuable, and compelling content. They will then follow you on social media, regularly consume your content, or subscribe to your email newsletter or podcast because they’re looking forward to hearing what you have to say. 

Chase hearts and minds with your thought leadership, not just eyeballs

Many of us want to be liked by the most amount of people possible. But that shouldn’t be your focus with thought leadership.

You shouldn’t be focused on eyeballs. You should be focused on winning hearts and minds. 

Yes, it’s great to get your thought leadership content out in front of loads of people and rack up gaudy amounts of email subscribers and social media followers.

But unless you’re resonating with those people, unless they are remembering you and thinking that you are someone who’s qualified to help them with their legal or business issues, then the thought leadership you’re putting out isn’t going to achieve the goals you want it to achieve. Your target audience won’t tend to think of you first and see you as an authority.

That’s what thought leadership is all about: building a relationship with your target audience through which they are convinced you are knowledgeable and wise about the areas of law you practice or the industry you serve, and when they’re ready to hire someone to help them with the kinds of legal or business problems you can help them with, they reach out to you.

When that relationship exists, you haven’t just captured their eyeballs and attention. You’ve won over their hearts and minds.

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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