Sell the sizzle not the sausage

Ken Clarke, the Justice Secretary, has said he will slash the Legal Aid bill by more than a third. As a result lawyers fear they will lose out on fees and that their most vulnerable clients will lose out on access to justice ~ and they are probably right to be concerned.

However, that isn’t the full story because disputes won’t simply evaporate, they will move to other venues. The cut and thrust of court will give way to the diplomacy of mediation meetings and I expect the vast majority of lawyers will catch on pretty quickly and give their mediation skills a higher profile on their websites. But, hang on a minute…

What is the best way to attract mediation work? One answer is that having identified a growing niche market you are in an excellent position to craft some targeted marketing copy for your website and other communication channels but don’t forget to sell the sizzle not the sausage!

Put yourself in the shoes of those who need mediation services and reassure them that you can supply them with what they ‘want’. ( don’t assume that just because they ‘need’ mediation services that they necessarily ‘want‘ mediation services.)

I expect that most parties considering mediation will be looking for a low cost alternative to court. They will want to secure a mutually acceptable outcome relatively quickly and without fuss.’ In a nutshell, they want peace of mind. So that is what I would advertise, not ‘mediation services’ but ‘peace of mind’.

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Are your services being upstaged by your brand?

It is natural for law firms to give their brand top billing in their marketing materials but it’s turning off droves of potential clients.

Law firms often feature their brand at the centre of their marketing materials because it is the one thing that brings all the partners and their teams together.

However, clients don’t buy brands they buy solutions to their problems. Certainly they need to see the brand but they don’t ‘buy’ the brand. Instead, they buy services that solve their problems and if you want to engage them and capture their attention you need to start talking about those services, in fact, you need to shout about them.

If you are not putting your services centre stage it’s little wonder that prospective clients look at your marketing materials and glaze over because all they see is soundbites and pictures of team members and endorsements from happy clients. Don’t misunderstand me, all these things have a role to play but it’s a supporting role not the main event.

Employment Lawyers are looking for clients that want ‘a Toolkit for managing redundancies from start to finish’ or ‘a set of contracts and policies to ensure legal compliance’ or ‘a complete HR management package’ so give those services top billing and demote the sound bites about quality and relationships to the supporting cast.

If you don’t believe me just take a few minutes to analyse your own buying behaviour. For instance, how do you go about buying a holiday? The likelihood is that like millions of other people you search Google for holidays to your preferred destination. In other words your primary interest is in the product not ‘quality travel agents’! Certainly you will carry out due diligence before buying, but it isn’t the first thing on your mind and the same goes for your clients.

September 30th Webcast on Effective Online Marketing for Attorneys

Press Release – September 30th Webcast on Effective Online Marketing for Attorneys.

Today, Thursday September 30th, attorney Laura Kalish will co-host a webcast on legal marketing and how law firms can build a strong, distinctive, client-generating brand online. The complimentary one-hour FindLaw webcast, titled Beyond The Basics — Standing Out from the Crowd, is designed for attorneys with online client-development experience who want to improve their Internet marketing and differentiate themselves from the competition.

This is a free one hour webcast and the first broadcast is available 11.00am CDT which is 4.00pm GMT and the second is in the evening. You will need to register if you want to listen in which you can do by following the above link.

How to become the media’s legal expert

Here are the key steps to becoming the media’s ‘go-to-expert’. Once mastered they will pay you back in spades. The down side is this strategy focuses the attention on you rather than the firm or the departmental team. Still, it’s a great way to differentiate yourself from local competition. Using radio, TV soundbites and niche internet based magazines you can stand out from the crowd among your target audience. This article explains how to get started.

Is your law firm ‘blah blah beige’ or ‘problem-solving purple?

Law firms find it difficult to differentiate themselves from their competition and often resort to statements about the length of time they have been established, or the quality services they deliver while some use obscure soundbites such as “We won’t tell you how to run your business” (Thank goodness for that!)

In all these cases the marketeers who write these words have entirely missed the point.  Not only could all your competitors write the same words but they could have been written by any service provider from any service industry.

Whatever graphics you use in your brochures, however slick your photos, however much colour you splash around your site, if your words are ‘beige’ you will fail to attract attention. 

So, it’s time to start using your common sense when you market your law practice. If in doubt, ask yourself or friends, colleagues, suppliers or anyone who will be honest with you:   “Do these words make me want to pick up the phone and call the law firm?” If the answer is “No” then bin it and start again.

Here are the 3 vital steps to differentiating your practice from the competition:

  1. Create a specialist niche ~ focus in on an area you are passionate about and use your experience and understanding of this market to ‘connect’ with your audience.
  2. Advertise the benefits of using your services, tell your audience about the painful problems that you can solve for them.
  3. Promote your expertise online. You could set up a blog, start Tweeting or get LinkedIn. It doesn’t matter which social network you use but you definitely need to get out there and stake a claim to your area of expertise before your competitor does.

Does anyone need an ‘auction’ lawyer?

Now I’m not advocating that you become a devotee of Chuck’s third wave sect for home office lawyers (whacky indeed!) but his point about niche marketing is well made and could inspire you to find your niche practice.

Lawyers finding their niche

Fancy becoming a wine law expert? Here is an inspiring article demonstrating how lawyers can turn a hobby into a niche market. Becoming an expert in a niche area is gold dust for your PR agent. Law Times – Lawyers finding their niche.