«Return to Blog List Customer Case Studies: The “Maybe” Language Legal Loves


In the world of customer stories, “legal” just might be our arch nemesis.

Where marketers look for strong, absolute endorsement statements from customers, legal reviewers at vendor and customer companies prefer muddier terms.

The language legal likes isn’t the clean and action-oriented phrasing marketers and copywriters have been taught to use.

It’s understandable. They don’t want it to appear that stellar results can always be expected.

Unfortunately, it’s the culture we live in.

This varies from company to company. The larger the vendor or customer company, the more likely legal reviewers will go to town with the “Track Changes” feature of Microsoft Word.

What does that mean?

One company in particular I’ve worked with has its legal sensitivity meter set extra high. If you want to work with them, you’ve got to shift your language from absolute, action words to kinda, sorta, maybe terms.

Here’s your guide to creating a case study legal will love. Substitute the “before” words with the following “after” phrasing:

Before After
Drives is intended to drive
Builds helps build
Enables can enable
All campaigns some campaigns
Pays off can pay off
Increases is intended to increase 
Analyzes can analyze
Automates is designed to automate
Triggers can be used to trigger

Wow, huh? That really takes the punch out of a customer case study or testimonial.

This mostly refers to the paraphrased part of your stories, not actual customer quotes. But at times legal will question customer quotes as well.

While this example maybe be more extreme, now you know how to get a story past the most persnickety legal gatekeeper – when you have to. But always start out with your strong, absolute language until you know it’s not going to fly.

Then you can kinda, sorta, maybe tone it down as needed.

Any stories to share in your battles with legal?

2 Responses to Customer Case Studies: The “Maybe” Language Legal Loves

  1. Ardath Albee says:

    Hi Casey,

    Oh, I can relate. I think my favorite example was the demand from a client’s legal dept. that every time we mentioned online capabilities we had to say “with an Internet connection.” The funny part was that this was strictly an email campaign. They all have an Internet connection! Grrrr…


  2. Casey Hibbard says:


    That’s hysterical! As if someone might be upset or confused when they can’t access those online capabilities because they didn’t realize they needed an Internet connection.

    Unfortunately, these legal folks have a lot of power.

    Thanks for sharing some humor on a Friday!



  1. Storytelling Social Media Marketing PR Business & Technology Curated Stories May 7, 2010