friday, 21 july of 2006

Migalhas International

Law Firm Marketing

HOW TO PRE-EMPT COMPETITORS: Don’t Just Sit There. Say Something.

By Trey Ryder

When you provide information -- and other lawyers don’t -- prospects immediately have more confidence in you than in them.


Because the more information you provide, the higher your credibility -- the more comfortable prospects feel with you -- and, subconsciously, the more skeptical they grow of other lawyers who have not provided this information.

As a result, everything you say -- even facts you provide to educate prospects -- has a positive effect on you and a negative effect on other lawyers.


Prospects look for cues about whether to hire your services. Initially, those cues relate to your knowledge, skill, judgment and experience.

1. Solution. When you explain the steps you can take to solve your prospects’ problem or achieve their goal, your prospects believe that you have the knowledge and experience to handle their legal matter. Since your prospects don’t know whether other lawyers could solve their problem, your explanation effectively pre-empts other lawyers from consideration -- unless they go to the trouble to seek out information from other attorneys.

2. Services. When you explain in detail the services you offer, prospects knows what you can do for them. On the other hand, when other lawyers don’t provide a list of services, your prospects can’t be sure whether those lawyers offer the services they need.

3. Biography. When you give information about your education and experience, prospects feel comfortable because they know more about your background. The more biographical information you provide, the more comfortable your prospects feel with you -- and the more uncertain they grow of other lawyers, since your prospects may have no information about them at all.

4. Testimonials. When you offer comments from clients, colleagues and other professionals, your prospects see that you are respected by all who know you. When other lawyers don’t provide this information, prospects can’t be sure what their clients and colleagues think about them. (A few jurisdictions do not allow lawyers to use testimonials, so make sure you check your rules of professional conduct.)

5. Reprints. When you provide prospects with copies of by-lined articles that have appeared in print -- or articles in which you’ve been quoted -- they know you’re an authority in your field. When prospects have not received reprints from other lawyers, prospects assume those lawyers have never had articles in print, which reinforces their perception that you’re the expert.

6. Fees. When you provide fees or fee ranges for certain types of services, prospects have at least an idea of how deep the well is. Prospects feel better when they have information about fees, even if the fees are higher than the prospects want. When other lawyers give no information about fees, prospects usually assume the worst and often think their fees are higher than they really are. You should present fees at the right time in the right way, as part of your marketing message.

7. Photo. Even your photo has pre-emptive value. When prospects know what you look like, they feel more at ease. Not that it matters what you look like, because it doesn’t. Prospects just feel more comfortable when they know. Plus, prospects continue to feel a little ill at ease because they don’t yet know what other lawyers look like.

8. Anything. When you provide information that your prospects want, you increase your credibility and you overcome prospects’ fears and concerns.


Once you have good, helpful information, your next challenge is to deliver it to your prospects. The most effective ways to deliver information are ways that your prospects find comfortable and convenient. Comfortable means prospects want to receive information at arms length, so neither you nor anyone else can apply sales pressure. Convenient means prospects want to receive information with the least amount of hassle and effort, and with the least interruption in their schedule.

Comfortable, convenient ways to deliver your marketing message include:

1. Posting your information on your web site.
2. Sending your information by mail or e-mail.
3. Presenting your information at a seminar or roundtable.
4. Featuring your information in a newspaper article or broadcast interview.
5. Including your information in a newspaper or magazine column.
6. Highlighting your information in your firm’s newsletter.

The least comfortable and convenient way to deliver information is in person, often requiring your prospect to come to your office, and often putting your prospect in a position where he expects you will try to persuade him to hire you. In most cases, the more sophisticated your prospect, the less he feels intimidated coming to your office. At the same time, the more sophisticated your prospect, the less time he has to meet with you.

When you provide a educational message that contains facts your prospects want, you increase your credibility, you overcome prospects’ fears, and you gain a major competitive advantage over lawyers who have not provided this information.

So, the easiest way to gain a major competitive advantage is to say something. And when you put your information in writing, it’s even more persuasive -- because all of us believe what we see in print.

© Trey Ryder.