In a white paper recently published by Law 360 on lessons for law firms from the financial crisis, there is a section on business development including an article Getting Windows For Building Business In The Downturn By Shannon Henson. The article highlights a key strategy for lawyers in an economic downturn::
The best way to protect yourself is to make sure you are building up your own client base. If you do that, then no matter what happens, you will be okay.
One of the most important strategies for buidling your client base is to master how you communicate the value of your services to potential clients.
Your goal is to clearly communicate the value you provide clients. Communicate what clients want to hear, i.e. how you solve their problem, verses what you want to tell them, i.e. your credentials.
Description Based message
Many attorneys describe what they do based on a roster of their services or a list of their features. For example, the following message is a familiar description for family lawyers:
"We are a group of knowledgeable, dedicated professionals engaged in the practice of family law."
The emphasis is on the features of the group (knowledgeable, dedicated professionals) and on a description of the service (practice of family law) versus any beneficial outcome to the client. The client has to work hard to translate what this means to them.
Value based message
Compare this response to a family lawyer I consulted with on creating his core message. Through the process of creating his core message, the family lawyer internalized who his best client were, how he differentiated himself and the value of his service.
The result has been an increase in referrals from desirable clients. He is receiving web site referrals from clients who want what he does best.
A few weeks ago, he was at a networking event and when was asked what he did, he replied, “I help divorcing clients to reach solutions.” One gentleman was listening and heard his unique way of helping divorcing clients and immediately asked for his card. The gentleman said, "I am in the process of getting a divorce and have talked to three lawyers who all said the same thing, you are the first lawyer who has talked about reaching solutions.” A few days later, the gentleman retained him as his lawyer.
The success this family lawyer experienced came from his ability to differentiate his practice and to convey the value of his services. When the family lawyer talked about what he did, it was not about him and his credentials. He talked about the client, their problem, and his ability to help them solve their problem.
Begin with Clarity on Results
If you want to motivate your team, firm or organization to achieve extraordinary results, read Seth Godin’s recent blog post, Achievable avalanche opportunities. In the post he writes what is required in a organization to get people excited to achieve remarkable results.
The two critical components to motivating a group include:
- Have clarity on the outcome ( results) you want to achieve.
- Select an outcome that is perceived as achievable.
He said it is highly difficult to get a group excited about “amorphous and ethereal” goals or about an outcome that is vague.
These components are nothing new and make complete sense once you read them. The key is to internalize there importance and put them into action.
How does this relate to effective lawyer marketing?
If you want to achieve break-through results in growing your practice or attracting desirable clients, your first step is to define the results you want to achieve.
Often times, this is the most difficult step in creating an effective lawyer marketing plan.
To answer this question, I recommend taking a step back from your day-to- day routine of serving clients, meeting deadlines and responding to urgent tasks to give deep and meaningful consideration to what defines success for your practice?
Gaining clarity on the results you want to achieve is the "proactive" work that allows you to build the kind of practice that gets you excited and helps you to motivate your group, firm or team to achieve extraordinary results.