Law firms spend lots of time, effort and money trying to differentiate themselves from the competition. However, their websites make them look exactly the same as their competitors. At best it’s an opportunity missed. At worst it’s a huge waste of money.
In a series of 3 articles, we’ll show you ways to make better use of your resources, differentiate yourselves and start beating the competition.
Law Firms aren’t all the same so why make them look like they are
Most law firms’ websites look the same – particularly firms who provide a full service. They have the same pages and they say roughly the same thing. They
- Say where you are and what you do
- Give a brief history of your firm
- Provide law updates
- Display brief standardised profiles of your people
These are useful in themselves and some are much better than others, but they don’t set you apart. In fact they perpetuate the theme of sameness.
Law firms do see the need to differentiate themselves. They just don’t do it very well. They’re defeated by the fact that ultimately they all do much the same thing so their differentiators sound ever more nebulous and consequently difficult to articulate. (“We like to think we’re different”)
Of course law firms aren’t all the same and they do have unique selling propositions. You need to identify these propositions then talk about them,talk about them publicly, and talk about them often.
There are a number of ways to differentiate yourselves. We’re going concentrate on three of them.
- Focus on individuals and what they do best
- Use the wider web – not just your website
- Create your own Perception – be seen the way you want to be seen
1 Focus on individuals and what they do best
It’s important to note straight away that this doesn’t mean ignoring the organisation or the different practice teams. It refers instead to optimising the particular skills, experience and expertise that an individual brings to the firm.
In your firm, you’ll have people who don’t just know about a particular area – they’re experts. Let me give a couple of examples of experts who I know. They both work in HR practices.
The first one we interviewed about redundancy. About 30 minutes before the interview we told him what sort of questions we were going to ask. He described the process, explored the issues and offered advice. By the end I thought that there was nothing he didn’t know about the topic. It wasn’t just his own abilities he was showcasing. What he said about the practice and about the firm is clear. I’m an expert. We all are.
The second is an expert on employment status. He is used by umbrella companies, the professional bodies in recruiting and is very well-known in the relevant professional circles. When he speaks it’s with authority. Again the message is clear.
- “I’m the professionals’ choice.
- We’re the professionals’ choice.
- We should be your choice.”
People like these need continual public exposure because when they speak, they exude knowledge, they talk about common sense solutions and they appeal to people who buy your services.
This strategy has two potential flaws. Everything does – because no approach is perfect.
Firstly, your “star” could be sold several times over whilst the others (metaphorically) sit round waiting for the phone to ring. This is just a resource management issue and there are solutions. One obvious way is for the star to mentor and train the others so that the knowledge is disseminated.
Another is that your expert briefs their colleague, who also talks about the same subject typically in blogs or Linkedin. This reinforces the idea of shared expertise without diluting your expert’s contribution. It’s also part of the reflected glory. (“If she’s that good what are the others like?”). Allow the viewer/reader/listener to perceive them as an example of what you’re all like.
Secondly, he or she is tapped up by a rival and goes to work for them. This is a risk but it’s a risk that we all take in business. Approaches from other employers are inevitable but generally people need an extraordinary opportunity to leave an employer they like.
If you use your most talented individuals to spearhead your marketing, you’re using your USP. Once you have their business it’s much easier to sell on to an existing happy client.