You have somewhere between 3-8 seconds to capture a prospective client’s interest online. Your new law firm logo and overly generalized mission statement will not cut it. What do you think a client thinks when he or she sees this on your website?
With over 75 combined years of experience representing clients in all areas of civil litigation, our depth of knowledge allows us to aggressively advocate for clients’ best interests.
Hear that? It’s the sound of potential clients leaving your website. By trying to appeal to everyone, you connect with no one.
It’s Time to Change How You Think about Branding
The goal of positioning is to differentiate you and the services you provide from a prospective client’s other options. To build a brand around your practice. Branding has moved beyond logos and taglines.
You are the brand.
Digital marketing success requires lawyers to do some serious self-reflection and have often difficult discussions about who they are and the messaging they want to use with clients. For law firms with many practice areas, it’s nearly impossible to come to a consensus. So for this post, dear lawyers, I want to speak to you – the individual practitioner. Whether you are a solo or one lawyer in a large firm, let’s talk about brand development and positioning your practice to win new business.
Branding and Positioning – A (Very Brief) Primer
Start with three questions focus your practice and identify your brand.
- What do you do?
- Why do you do it?
- Who do you do it for?
- Why should a potential client choose you over another attorney?
(The fourth question speaks towards positioning your brand in the marketplace. BusinessDictionary.com defines marketing positioning as: “An effort to influence consumer perception of a brand or product relative to the perception of competing brands or products. Its objective is to occupy a clear, unique, and advantageous position in the consumer’s mind.”)
1. What do you do?
Don’t tell me you practice employment law. Or that you are an estate planning attorney. In today’s competitive marketplace it’s time to up your game.
What are you selling? It’s not time for dollars any more. Outline the specific problems that your knowledge and experience solve for your clients.
Don’t forget, the role of the attorney is shifting. “Nontraditional” opportunities for progressive thinking lawyers are plentiful. If you are ready to do the work and think outside the box, I highly recommend Dorie Clark’s Stand Out Self-Assessment Workbook.
An often overlooked differentiation opportunity for lawyers is to focus on the client experience. These attorneys go beyond what they know, and brand themselves on the way they deliver legal services, and how they make the client feel. Jordan Furlong of Law 21, discusses client experience in his article “Beyond Lawyers: The Future of Law Firm Branding.” Even a small detail like sending a handwritten thank you note at the end of your representation can make a big difference.
Ready to develop your professional brand and competitively position your practice?
2. Why do you do it?
This might feel a little too touchy-feely for some of you. I’m ok with that. Still – pay attention. Because successful positioning in the online marketplace requires you to be human. That’s right, a little bit vulnerable, a lot more open, and 100% authentic.
In my work as an in house marketing director, I worked with some less-than-professional marketing agencies and web development companies. I received calls and pitches from agencies promising me the moon and the stars if I would just sign on for their secret sauce. As I spoke with colleagues in other firms and other attorneys, I realized that many lawyers were being taken advantage of by marketing companies. I started my company to remedy this issue. My “why” is to provide lawyers and firms with professional and transparent guidance on digital marketing and business strategies.
Why do you get out of bed in the morning? What are you passionate about? Why did you go to law school in the first place? How do your core values show in your work with clients?
For further inspiration on identifying your “why”, check out The Gen Why Lawyer Podcast and founder Nicole Abboud. Nicole provides resources and information for Millennial Lawyers shaking up the practice of law and what it means. Simon Sinek’s 2009 Ted Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” can provide inspiration .
Great brands are built on authenticity and connecting with their key customers. Consider how you can share more of who you are through your marketing.
3. Who do you do it for?
I often ask attorneys to think back to all the clients they’ve ever worked with to find THE ONE. The one client that if they could clone over and over again, they would be happy and fulfilled (plus able to get paid) in their practices.
Once you’ve identify this person, you need to dig into the details of who they are. Not their job title, and not just their age, gender, and demographic information. You must understand their behaviors, the information they need, and what keeps them up at night.
With an intimate understanding of the client you’d like to clone, you can develop your brand and positioning to attract similarly situated clients.
Clarity around the what and who of your practice sets the stage for communicating your differentiators, or how you will position yourself in relation to your competition in the marketplace.
4. Why should a prospective client choose you?
I don’t recommend starting the positioning process by looking at your competition. Often, it will take you down a long, dark, dismal abyss of “inside-the-box” thinking on how to position your practice.
Once you’ve answered the questions above, however, check out the competition. Identify gaps in the market you hadn’t considered to set you apart from the competition. (Hint: avoid “depth of experience,” “responsive,” and other generic lawyer marketing speak that only dilutes your offer.)
Positioning ideas to consider:
- Highly Focused Niche: If you are the go-to lawyer for a very specific issue and a very specific audience, you won’t have to worry about competition.
- How You Practice: How do you deliver legal differently? Think about how you can use technology to improve the client experience, whether through streamlined onboarding processes, improved case management methods to save the client time and money, or cutting edge technology to make a better case in the courtroom. You may even offer meeting times in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate busy professional clients.
- Emerging Markets and Practices: You may have heard of the book Blue Ocean Strategy, which discusses how to create new markets by “altering the boundaries of an existing industry.” If there were ever an industry being altered, it’s legal.
Memorable Lawyer Brands
I get excited when I come across a lawyer with a well-defined brand. Maybe I need to get out more, but maybe I know the leap of faith required by an attorney to go all-in with a focused niche. Because from my experience, the popular choice among lawyers is to hedge their bets and still try to market a wide range of services to a wide range of clients.
To check out some awesome lawyer brands, take a peek at what these lawyers are doing.
- Abby Kelman: Abby was recently featured in The New York Times (who wouldn’t like that coverage?) in an article discussing her niche practice as an agent for rabbis.
- Rachel Rodgers: Rachel is a business lawyer turned business coach and intellectual property strategist. I love her unique value proposition – check out the Rodgers Collective homepage to see it for yourself.
- Gena Shingle: When I first heard Gena describe herself as a sparkly lawyer, I was skeptical. Sparkly…really? But I quickly understood who she helped and how she helped them because Gena has a focused niche. As I listened to Gena’s message and the transparency with which she shared her story, I connected with her in a real way – even though I had never met her in person. Every lawyer must aspire to this in their branding efforts.
Ready to Do Some Work?
Download our Positioning Your Practice Workbook. It will walk you through a step-by-step process to develop a strong market position, and communicate that position through your online presence.
If you have further questions around developing your brand, or identifying your target client, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.