How are you different from other lawyers? Why should someone retain you – or pay your higher fees?
By Liz Wendling, Business Development Coach
A major danger to your practice right now is not being able to define what sets you apart in a world that is cluttered, competitive, and crowded. It is becoming harder and harder to stand out – and if you do not stand out, you blend in.
It has never been more challenging for lawyers to find new business. To gain a substantial advantage, what differentiates you from your competitors must also be important to your prospective client. Otherwise, you will fall head-first into the commodity trap.
Every attorney and every practice area brings something unique to the value table. The burden of proof is on you: without guidance, prospects may not be able to recognize the value that you bring to the table, calculate what your services are worth, or decide to retain you.
How are you different from other attorneys? Many think that what differentiates them is where they went to law school, or how long they have been practicing, or the prestigious firms where they work. All of these things help, but they are not what separates the average attorney from the rainmakers.
The Process of Differentiation
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin the process of differentiation:
1. What is my unique offering to the marketplace? What is that one thing I do that I know your competition does not?
2. What are my distinct characteristics, expertise, skills, and attributes? Do I have a specialty or added expertise that my competition does not?
3. What could I do to stand out in my client consultations? Could I create a unique opening or use different language to engage prospective clients?
4. How can I show prospects my unique value? Does it appear prominently on my website and in my marketing materials?
5. Once defined, how can I make my unique value recognizable in a consistent and sustainable way? How can I integrate it into all of my messages, marketing materials, and services?
6. Who is my biggest competition? What do they do that makes them different or unique?Who do I know that can give my firm an advantage in the marketplace?
7. Can I create relationships with other attorneys and professionals to increase my referrals?
Three Examples of Differentiation
Example 1: A divorce lawyer stopped wasting precious time with superficial – and expected – small talk about the weather, traffic, etc. when he meets them for a consultation. By creating a personalized opening, he connects with a prospective client and demonstrates his unique value, which tips the scales in his favor.
Example 2: An estate planner sends a packet to prospective clients prior to their initial meeting. The packet includes tips, advice, resources, and the top ten questions to ask an estate-planning professional. This low-cost, high-impact packet sends a loud and clear message about how much this professional cares – without his having to say a word.
Example 3: Another divorce lawyer sends an impressive brochure to prospective clients prior to meeting them. This brochure offers vital information to know when choosing a divorce attorney, including questions to ask and a list of helpful referrals.
Get creative. Be adventurous. Do something that makes clients feel important and cared for. Conceive a personal and memorable initial consultation experience for your clients. Prospective clients will feel that you stand out from the rest – and that you are the best choice for them.
Liz Wendling is a nationally-recognized practice development coach for attorneys. She designs programs for divorce attorneys who want to attract more clients, close more business, and differentiate themselves from the competition. www.therainmakingcoach.com
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