Stories Are More Persuasive Than Data

Jeff Berman
May 12, 2011

Creating great content for your law firm's website is one of the cornerstones to success with your online marketing. Content helps establish your credibility, develops your online reputation, attracts incoming links which help build authority for your website, allows people performing research to find you online, helps develop trust with your site visitors, encourages conversion, and on and on.

But what type of content is the most effective when trying to persuade your potential clients? Are you better off telling a story first or simply presenting data to your site visitors?

The answer is that stories are more persuasive than data. Not that data shouldn't be included in your content, but rather you are better off starting out with a story first. Neuro Psychologist Susan Weinschenk wrote a terrific article explaining the power of telling stories to make your point:

Don’t present the data first — A data based approach will not be as persuasive as anecdotes. You may want to include the data in the presentation at some point, but your presentation will be more powerful if you start with and focus on one or more anecdotes, for example:

“Mary M from San Francisco shared the following story about how she uses our product: …”
and then go on to tell Mary’s story.

Why anecdotes speak louder than data -- Anecdotes are in story form. They will invoke empathy, which triggers emotional reactions. With emotional reactions people will process the data and the feelings. Emotions will also trigger the memory centers in the brain.

Processing emotions is more important for decision-making than processing data — In my book Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? I explain that most mental processing occurs unconsciously. It’s easy to forget that information is coming in and being processed from many sources. It’s easy to forget that people are processing emotions too. If you want people to act on the data, then you need to couple it with emotional data.

Translating This Into Content For Your Firm's Website

Think about how you can relate a story or experience to describe how you can help a potential client. Obviously you want to withhold confidential information and remain within the ethical bounds when you tell your story. However, the emotional and persuasive impact of the story will go a lot further than simply rattling off data on your webpages.

Additionally, stories help you stand out and provide a uniqueness to your site. Most legal websites read more like a glossary of legal terminology or simply regurgitate the specifics of a legal issue. When you can humanize the content by attaching it to a person that your visitor can relate to, the impact of that content will be far greater.

Photo by Marc van der Chijs (

Jeff Berman
Jeff Berman, is co-founder of AttorneySync. "Properly marketing a law firm online is about producing relevant content that helps a prospective client understand your expertise and how you are able to help them. Finally, it’s about getting that content found by the people you are trying to help."
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