At GNGF, when a client hires us to manage their law firm marketing one of the first things we do is discuss the law firm’s “brand.” When walking through our list of questions that help us understand what makes the law firm unique and better than their local competition, we are surprised that we get feedback from our clients thanking us for taking them through the branding process. Not because we just did a good job during the process, but because they themselves have never thought about many of these branding questions.
One attorney told us that before our meeting, branding to him was talking about his logo, business cards and letterhead. His eyes were quickly opened at how much more important and effective it was to first define what made him unique and better than the other law firms in his community.
In almost every market and industry it is important to differentiate yourself from the competition. Most likely you have many law firms within a one-mile radius of your office, many of which manage the same practice areas. How does someone know that you are the right firm for him or her verses the other firms in the area? We feel it is important to be able to define your unique selling proposition (called USP) and have all of your marketing pieces and your client interactions drive and support that.
One thing that we like to remind lawyers, especially those at small to medium size law firms, is that it’s hard to grow by competing on service quality alone. You need to change the conversation. Instead of shouting, “Hey, look at me! I am a great firm, too,” you want to confidently say, “We are all about [this]. We do things differently. If you’re into [this], we’re the best and likely the only place you can get it.”
Think of the companies you frequent as a business owner or consumer and why you chose them over the competition. There is a feeling you have about those companies that defines their brand more than their logo or name does.
For example, FedEx: we may use USPS frequently but we know that when you absolutely, positively have to have it their overnight they are worth the money and trust. Their messaging, customer service, technology, everything maps back to their unique selling proposition of most trusted overnight document carrier. They didn’t say we are the best delivery carrier, they differentiated on being the most trusted overnight carrier. The interesting thing about this is that it actually alienates some potential customers. If you don’t need to get a document somewhere fast then you probably won’t consider paying $12 to mail something when you can just put a 46-cent stamp on it. But FedEx has grown leaps and bounds by being targeted and unique.
As I mentioned above, many of our clients haven’t thought about what their USP is exactly. So, we have created a number of questions we ask that allows us to pull out common threads from their answers and tell them what we hear that makes them different and unique.
Some of these questions we ask are:
- What is unique about your firm?
- How is working with your firm different from working with other firms in the area?
- How would clients describe your firm?
- What are the specific needs the firm exists to address?
- What does the firm do to address these needs?
- What do you stand for? OR What do you stand against?
- What personality do you put forth when someone experiences your brand (works with your firm)?
- What is the personality of the key partners at the firm?
- Who is your best prospect / client?
- How much do they make in income?
- Where do they live?
- What kind of place do they own / rent?
- What kind of car do they drive?
- What are their beliefs / political affiliations? Is there anything unique about your best prospects / clients?
- What is your firm’s promise to prospects?
Using these questions, we helped one law firm realize that the partners were very successful at working with professional women who are going through a divorce. They set out to differentiate themselves for that specific market. Their messaging, where they advertise, where they network, what to put on their website all flowed out of that simple but important USP discovery.
What is your law firm’s unique selling proposition and how is that shaping how your reach and communicate to your prospects?