One difficulty confronting firms that are operating in an undeniably saturated market is the ability to effectively communicate what sets them apart from all the other firms competing for the same clients. Many attorneys have begun to recognize that they must define themselves in a way that is distinct from their competition. And this is correct. One key to successful marketing is showing clients how you are different from (and better than) all of their other options.
Unfortunately, many attorneys identify and promote the wrong things – things that clients do not find relevant or helpful. These things can be categorized as “features” of a firm, like having 20 years more experience or boasting a larger network of non-lawyer collaborative partnerships. That is not to say that these thing don’t matter; it is simply that they matter to people searching for a lawyer only insofar as they provide a real advantage to clients. Therefore, your point of distinction must feature a benefit to clients rather than a self-focused description of your firm.
With search engines encouraging people to write content that sounds more natural, the opportunities for useful differentiation continue to grow. Google wants you to write with you own voice and to do less irrelevant internal linking. Take advantage. Produce content that shows off your firm’s personality and explains how clients can gain from it. Here are a few steps to follow:
Understand your firm’s culture. You are likely knowledgeable enough about other firms in your area to understand how you differ. You could be more compassionate or more ruthless, have a large staff or appreciate being a small firm or solo practitioner. Understanding the culture of your law office is as basic as looking at what you actually do and how you encourage attorneys and staff to act. Be honest in your assessment. Wishful thinking will not win clients.
Extrapolate how that culture leads to success and show how it helps clients. Take, for example, a firm specializing in business law. A feature of the firm’s practice is it’s age and experience. An aspect of the firm’s personality (or culture) may be an air openness and collaboration, leading attorneys to support each other and build relationships with members of the community. Because of this, over time the firm has built a network of investors, which provides a distinct advantage to their small business clients. This firm may be more able than others to secure valuable start-up funding or venture capital. Being able to grow a business is something that is extremely relevant to potential clients.
Show value without having to explain it. If you have to describe the punchline of a joke, it isn’t funny. If you have to tell people you are an authority, they are not likely to believe you are. This is where regular contributions to a blog and/or a professional network like LinkedIn are so important. People who search for attorneys are looking not only at the firm’s website but also for information posted by or about them elsewhere. The more you contribute, build networks and build influence online, the more people will trust you – without you having to tell them to do so.
Solicit reviews from clients. According to research done by Mike Blumenthal for Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law, positive reviews – particularly on Google – matter. Their survey asked the question, “If you search for a specialty lawyer on the Internet, what is most important to you?” The top two answers respectively were: 1) Information about them elsewhere on the internet and 2) The quality of reviews on Google. Word of mouth matters on and offline. People look to others when they are making a big decision. Having good reviews will influence their thinking.
Marketing is about convincing people you will provide them with an advantage, not just repeating the same self-absorbed facts about your firm. Make it about them. Show them how you can help, how you have already helped others and how you offer distinct benefits.