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Speak to client needs by turning features into benefits

benefitsAttorney marketing is tricky in many ways. You must sell a service that only a certain percentage of the population will ever need, and you do not have the same ability to manufacture demand as large retail companies like Nike or Apple. Attorneys are also restricted in many different ways by a variety of recommendations unique to each state bar's interpretation of best marketing practices. Lawyers must even approach marketing differently than other service providers who face fewer constraints on they ways in which they can present themselves to the public.

However, attorneys can learn from traditional retail marketing in one very important way: The predominant message of successful campaigns is a focus on benefits rather than features. This is true of top national brands that may not mention a product at all until the end of a spot to local businesses. A commercial for a landscape architect will not showcase the chemical makeup of the grass or the history of the flowers, but will instead focus on families enjoying an afternoon playing games or couples relishing an evening on a beautiful backyard patio. The ability to relax and enjoy time with your children outside is one of the benefits of having a great yard. During the actual project, the designer will likely discuss the features of individual plants. But the decision to buy is based on a consumer's connection with a perceived emotional benefit.

Too many attorneys still try to market using features alone. Features are things that are exclusively about your firm, like how long you have been practicing or where you attended law school - “I” statements. Features are helpful to prospective clients only insofar as they can be linked to a tangible benefit. That is not to say that you should not share them. Just share them thoughtfully. Here are some ways to shift the focus to your clients while still conveying essential and relevant information about your firm.

Make a list of your clients' most common questions. It is likely that you work with many clients who have similar concerns. Taking a little time to list these issues can give you good marketing insight. Once you have narrowed it down to the top one or two, think of ways to address them in 7 words or less. Statements that directly answer top client questions make some of the best headlines for your website or other materials.

Beef up your attorney profile page(s). Attorney pages are some of the most visited on a law firm website. This is your opportunity to really stand out and to connect with visitors. Mix statements about yourself with anecdotes about why you practice your particular area of law. What really interests you? What drives you? Why should visitors trust you to help them?

Use social proof. People like to do what they think others are doing. Harness this phenomenon by having others tell prospective clients how much they appreciate you. You can use testimonials, reviews, representative cases or a combination of the three, depending on the rules governing attorney advertising in your state. When you tout your amazing deeds and experience, people tune out. When others do it, they listen. The same words coming from the mouths of happy clients have exponentially more influence.

Turn features into benefits. If you have an impressive resume, there is no reason to hide it from clients. Chances are the facts of your work history are beneficial to clients in a myriad of ways. Think of why your experience helps your clients, and present it couched in that language. Moving the wording away from yourself and to the prospective client allows you to both build connections and establish yourself as an authority.