Fundamental principle of marketing: you must differentiate your business from your competition. You must be different.
What do we have to work with?
You’re a lawyer—so is your competitor.
You’re an attractive, intelligent person—so is your competitor.
You have experience in your area of the law—so does your competitor.
You have an office—so does your competitor.
You have nice business cards and good suits—so does your competitor.
You’ve got some happy clients saying nice things about you—so does your competitor.
You’re active in your community—so is your competitor.
You’re good in court—so is your competitor.
You’ve got a good reputation—so does your competitor.
What can you say about yourself that presents a difference between you and your competitor? How can you help prospective clients make the choice?
You and your competitor are, for all intents and purposes, identical twins.
You’ve got one thing—and it’s likely the only thing you’ve got—to distinguish yourself from your competition. You’ve got your story. You’ve got to tell your story.
You were in Operation Iraqi Freedom—your competitor wasn’t.
You were raised by a minister—your competitor wasn’t.
You’re the first member of your family in 150 years to move more than 100 miles from your home county—your competitor isn’t.
You got in trouble in third grade for hitting the school bus driver with a baseball bat, causing the bus to hit a parked car (no one was injured), and your competitor hasn’t ever hit anyone with a baseball bat.
You shaved your head in the ninth grade and really upset your mother—your competitor didn’t.
You married your high school sweetheart and had nine kids—your competitor didn’t.
You lost 75 pounds and kept it off for five years—your competitor didn’t.
You get the idea. You’ve got to tell your story. The story is the difference between you and your competitor. It’s what you’ve got: use it.
Of course, you will think of reasons not to tell the story. You’ll feel pressure to look just like the competition. I’m not sure why we feel that way, but I’ve learned that we lawyers are desperate to conform. We like looking the same as the competition. We like it so much that many of us wear the same clothes and shoes.
You’ll worry that telling your story will alienate some prospective clients. You’ll worry that you’ll lose all the folks who were hit by school buses or you’ll lose the anti-head shaving crowd.
You will lose some, but you’ll gain many others. You’ll gain those clients who can’t figure out how to choose between you and the dozens of others just like you. You’ll appeal to the people looking for someone that they can understand, relate to, and know. They’ll trust you if you have a story. They’ll be far more likely to call.
If you want more clients, you’ve got to be willing to stand out. You’ve got to be distinguishable from the competition. Your story is what you’ve got: tell it.