By: Sharon Berman,
Published: The Leadership Exchange, Greater Los Angeles Chapter – Association of Legal Administrators
Your attorneys’ skills in labor law, litigation and business transactions may be as good as, or better than, anyone’s out there. But how do you help differentiate them from the pack’s? How do you get prospective clients and referral sources to remember that your firm handles bankruptcies or personal injuries when you are just one of many out there? Or, if you provide services across a range of industries, how can you distinguish your firm to make your marketing stand out?
Narrow Your Focus – Broaden Your Prospect Base
To maximize your marketing return, you need to narrow your focus and let the world know who you are. Does your firm focus on business transactions for automobile dealerships? A specific practice area focuses people’s attention, which helps them remember you.
However, it can take courage for an attorney to step forward and clearly state their specialty. It’s only natural to fear that you will lose work (“If they think I only work in the auto industry, they won’t call me for anything else”). But, if you don’t give people a reason to remember you, it decreases the likelihood that they will keep you in mind. On the other hand, if your attorney is memorable, prospects will approach even when their need does not match the stated specialty. Prospective clients and referral sources say: “I know you specialize in working with electronics companies, but my client, an auto parts manufacturer, needs legal counsel. Can you help?”
Staking a claim in a market does not preclude taking other business. It just means that you are strategic about where your firm invests its marketing dollars. It’s the difference between proactively marketing to a specific type of client versus accepting whatever business comes in the door.
Choosing a Specialty
Some attorneys choose their industry specialization while others stumble into. If the firm has just worked with its third client in the printing industry, you may have your specialty. Or, specialization may begin with a conscious decision, either because an attorney particularly enjoyed working with a client in a specific industry, or because you’ve identified a high-potential market.
You can also choose your degree of specialization. Some firms are extremely specialized; for example, they only handle municipal work or work with telecom companies, and they refer out any other work. Other attorneys who have selected a preferred industry will do the same type of work for a company in another area when the opportunity arises.
An alternative to focusing on an industry is by having a sub-specialization, such as a personal injury attorney who specializes in cases involving children.
Before your firm defines its territory, there are a few caveats to consider. First, just how special is specialized? Some attorneys say that they work with entrepreneurial or emerging companies, but that is vague. It needs to be narrowed down. However, you can be too narrow by zeroing in on a low potential market, where, for example, clients will only pay rock-bottom fees.
Market Your Specialty
Once you have a specialty, here are the three simple steps for marketing it:
Stand Out from the Bunch
Educating markets about what your attorneys do is an on-going process. By clearly delineating who you are, you make yourself memorable – not “just another employment lawyer.” The bottom line is that by staking a claim to a specialty, you can attract more, not less business. Even people who don’t need your particular expertise will be more likely to remember you and will approach you for other opportunities.
Sharon Berman is principal of Berbay Marketing & PR, a marketing consulting firm specializing in working with professional services firms. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The firm’s website is www.berbay.com.