Is Your Law Firm Advertising Helping to Attract your Best Clients?

In my last post I wrote about the importance of being relevant to the clients you want to attract to your practice. Relevance means evoking an emotional response from your prospective clients because they see themselves in your message,“This is me, this is how I feel.” Once prospective clients have an emotional connection with your message, there is a heightened interest in who you are and what you do.

If prospective clients don’t experience this emotional hook, chances are your message will not achieve its goal of attracting desirable clients to your practice.

You can be relevant to prospective clients by having clarity about the kind of clients you want to attract. Your message will be lost if you try be all things to all people. Alternatively, you will attract the right clients by knowing who your best clients are and  communicating what matters most to these clients.

Recently, I helped apply this strategy to Quaid and Quaid, a family law firm who wanted to separate themselves from their competitors in a special D Magazine advertorial on Dallas Divorce.

The firm wanted to appeal to clients who put a high value on minimizing the destruction of divorce. All the partners in the firm were trained in Collaborative Law and passionately believed in the value of helping clients to divorce as amicably as possible. 

The following is the D Magazine advertisement:

(For a larger view of ad, click on continued reading at the bottom of page)

The advertisement was unique for the following reasons:

1.    The ad featured an image of what prospective clients want to avoid versus a large photo of  lawyers. 

2.    The ad focused on the client’s goals and problems not the expertise and talent of the lawyers. 

 3.    The ad targeted a specific audience, clients who wanted to move into the future with integrity, versus targeting a general audience of clients who wanted a divorce.

Keep in mind while creating an ad or writing content for your web site that a client will connect with you at an emotional level when they believe you understand how to help them avoid their greatest fears or achieve their most desired goals.

Distinguish yourself in your market by focusing on the clients you want to attract to your practice.

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Should Lawyers Build Their Personal Brand?

 

Is building a personal brand an important strategy for growing your law practice or is it merely “an oxymoron, for a corporate practice, not a personal one” as  written by blogger Doc Searls in his post, The Unbearable Lightness of Branding.

In Telling Lawyers to Build a Personal Brand May Be a Big Mistake, Kevin O’Keefe responded to Doc Searls by  stating, “Today it's "Building trust and maintaining a reputation matter. Calling both 'branding' is a categorical error.”

After reading both posts and having worked  with lawyers for ten years on branding, I passionately recommend that lawyers  focus on both their personal and law firm brands. My suggestion is to re-frame the question from:

“Should I build my personal brand?”
to
“What distinguishes me and my practice, what do I stand for, and who is my ideal client?”

The answer to these questions define your “story” that is, how you express your value to potential clients. Your "story" will establish  the foundation for defining your personal brand.

Personal brands fail for the following two reasons.

  • When the brand starts outside of yourself.  Too often lawyers focus more on their external persona verses who they truly are and what they stand for. This can lead to disastrous results.(Think Tiger Woods, Tony Hayward, the recently demoted CEO at BP and Elliot Spitzer.)
  •  When the brand is about self promotion verses an authentic commitment to making a positive contribution to your clients, colleagues and community.

A brand is not a persona or a “logo.” It is about building a reputation and doing remarkable work, living your values and consistently delivering on your brand promise.

One example of a successful personal brand is Don Schiller of Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP, who has created a brand as A Gentleman in a volatile practice area.

His brand enhances and is in direct alignment with his firms brand for unparalleled excellence. It also  distinguishes him as the “go to” family lawyer for  high profile clients among  the influential, wealthy and famous in Illinois. 

In a recent article, titled The Gentlemen, Don was described as:

“In the field of divorce law, it’s hard to escape from name-calling. The amazing thing about Don Schiller is that even at the top of the divorce field, the name he’s most regularly called is ’gentleman.’

Don Schiller has successfully built a personal brand: He knows who he is and  who his clients are, and he delivers on his brand promise every day.

A strong personal brand is about being authentic, knowing what you stand for, and consistently delivering on your brand promise. This includes building trust and maintaining a reputation in alignment with your brand.

The more defined your brand, the more you will distinguish yourself in a competitive market and attract the clients who value what you do best.

 

How Do You Attract Desirable Clients to Your Practice?

You can attract desirable clients to your practice by communicating a message that is relevant to the clients you want to attract.

This means communicating what your clients/referral sources are interested in hearing verses what you are interested in saying.  

Creating a relevant message requires preparation and having a solid understanding of your target markets most important problems and goals.

This article explores what does and does not work for effectively communicating the value of collaborative law practice.

What does not work?     Too much emphasis on the practitioner:

Example: We assist divorcing individuals with a cooperative process that gives families resources and options unavailable in traditional divorce models. XXX is a group of independently practicing family law attorneys, mediators, business valuators, mental health professionals and financial advisors specializing in divorce issues. Each practitioner, while in business independently in their field, has XXX to provide cohesive, multi-disciplinary services to divorcing clients.

What works?

1.    A message that starts with a point of relevance to the audience:

Example: Divorce does not have to be slash and burn.

2.    A message that relates to a problem the audience has and provides a solution:

Example“A significant advantage of collaborative law is that all personal and financial matters are kept private rather than open public records of a case tried in court,” adds Carlton R. Marcyan, “For clients going through divorce, especially business owners and clients with high assets, keeping personal and financial matters private is an important value.” (full article

3.     A Message that conveys a story the audience can relate to:

Example: "One of the more unique holiday plans Galvin has seen is a couple in collaboration were caught up in a power struggle over who got to spend Christmas morning and day with the children. With the help of the collaborative team the parents were able to focus on the importance of honoring the children's tradition rather than fight over who would be with the children on Christmas morning. Traditionally, the family opened presents in their home and then went to the wife’s parents’ home for a meal and to play with all their cousins. In collaboration, the couple agreed it was in the children’s best interests to maintain that tradition and the ex-husband would be included in the festivities for the next few years while the children were still young rather than alternating holidays and depriving their children of something that they looked forward to." 

This type of arrangement is in contrast to what can happen if parents do not communicate. For example, if parents cannot agree on how to divide time with their children over holidays, it is common for a Judge to try to give everyone a little something and order alternating holidays year to year which often results in tradition and the holidays being less enjoyable for the children in order to satisfy the parents’ demands.

With more than half of the marriages in the United States ending in divorce, there is no doubt Collaborative Law is something that could help parents minimize the damage of divorce on children. January is the month when most parents begin divorce proceedings. “The greatest gift you can give your child in 2010 and beyond is to love your children more than you hate your spouse and work cooperatively with the other parent to co-parent your children,” advises Jim Galvin. (full article)

In summary, the following are four steps to increase the effectiveness of your message so you can attract desirable clients to your practice:

1.    Believe in your message. Your personal belief in your message will come across. Authenticity is essential for effective communication.

2.    Develop talking points. Define the primary benefits of your service and stay focused in your communication. Avoid getting too detailed about the process before you have communicated the value of what you do.

3.    Know your audience. Understand what is most important to your audience, including their problems and the solutions you provide. Tailor your talking points to address the concerns and goals of those you are communicating to.

4.    Use multiple communication channels. Communicate your message consistently and frequently. Opportunities for getting your message out include, face to face meetings, on-line directories, firm/organization bios, articles, on line press releases, and web site, LinkedIn and facebook profiles.  

Send me examples of how your communication has worked and what  challenges you are facing to consistently communicate your "message".