February 6, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 37

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February 03, 2023

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Are You Really Differentiating Your Law Firm?

A major danger to your practice right now is not being able to define what sets you apart from your competitors. The crowded environment that attorneys are facing today is intense than at any other time in history. It has never been more challenging to attract clients and close new business. The changes are so significant that your practice won’t survive without differentiation.

If prospective clients can’t perceive any difference between you and your competition, how do you expect them to notice you, remember you, and retain you? Most attorneys cannot articulate why they are different. Therefore they are forced to compete on price.

To gain a substantial advantage, you must be able to differentiate yourself, stand out from your competitors, and be different in a way that matters to today’s savvy consumer. What you think makes you different, and unique may be keeping you in the commodity trap that you work so hard to avoid.

Today’s savvy legal consumers are confused, and they don’t know how to tell one law firm from the next. Your legal services appear the same as all of the others in your practice area, and you're being viewed as a commodity.

The differentiators that many law firms and attorneys use make them look and sound like everyone else. They attempt to differentiate themselves by making the same declarations that countless other attorneys make. In other words, they water down their value proposition.

The following statements are not differentiators. These value propositions are inherently valueless. Continued use of this language or any other variation will secure your spot in the commodity trap.

  • Our firm has more than 75 years of experience combined
  • We appreciate our clients and take the time to listen to their needs
  • We have the skill and compassion necessary to fight on your behalf
  • We are proactive and dedicated to the best possible outcome
  • We pride ourselves on our ability to be responsive and cost-effective
  • Our job is to handle the details of your case and relieve your worries
  • We offer compassionate guidance and care about you and your goals
  • My firm has won some of the largest cases and settlements in history
  • We bring passion and commitment when we represent you
  • We provide one-on-one attention to all of our clients
  • We are committed to walking you through every step of the process

I bet that all firms at some point have laid claim to at least one of these bullet points that you now assert as a differentiator for your firm. There is not even a hint of differentiation or a whiff of uniqueness in these statements because every other attorney in town is rattling off the same list. Prospective clients don’t take these statements seriously because every one of them is a baseline expectation.

You will soon discover that this once-dependable method of distinction will backfire if you rely on this type of language to differentiate yourself from your competition.

When you fail to differentiate yourself, you fail to prove your value. Who defines value? The receiver, not the giver. The burden of proof is on you. You must
contribute value to your prospective client’s definition of value, not yours. You may think that people care about your ability to listen, your care and compassion, or your cost-effective solutions, but what they really care about is how those things relate to them. They care about themselves.

Developing a unique message is not easy, but it is necessary. To effectively market your law firm and sell your legal services, you need to get out of the legal box and
craft a message that will not only set you apart but will also become recognizable and synonymous with your services and your brand. This is your only way out of the legal commodity trap.

You cannot differentiate yourself if you don’t undertake the journey of finding out what makes you unique.

Many attorneys are realizing that within the first seven to ten seconds of meeting someone is the ideal place to create a strong and powerful first impression. They
are making a conscious choice to begin their consultations with a conversation about the client rather than talking about the weather, traffic, parking, or another current event the way that so many other attorneys do. Superficial chit-chat does nothing to differentiate them and make an impact on the prospective client.

You can tip the scales in your favor when you get creative.

The more that your messaging caters to what’s in it for the prospect, the more successful you will be at gaining their attention and winning their business. Your language should be all about the prospective client, not about you. You differentiate you by making it about them.

© Copyright 2023 Rainmaking for AttorneysNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 225

About this Author

Liz Wendling, The Rainmaking Academy, Lead Conversion,  Practice Consultant

Liz Wendling is founder of The Rainmaking Academy for attorneys and a practice development consultant. Liz works nationwide, teaching attorneys innovative and game-changing lead conversion and business development strategies. Liz transforms attorneys into top rainmakers who know how to close more business, seal more deals and differentiate themselves from the competition.

Liz designs highly customized virtual and in-house programs for attorneys...