Hillel L. Presser 2013-09-19 00:57:02
Another Reason to Nurture Your Law Firm’s Culture — Marketing Why You Need to Develop a Brand & 4 Tips to Get You Started There’s a strong correlation between the growth of a law firm and the strength of its culture, according to a new survey published in February’s ABA Journal. The most successful mid-sized firms are those that put a high value on their culture – how they do business and the written and unwritten rules for behavior, according to the survey conducted by TAGLaw and the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession. Firms in which everyone plays by the rules and values dictated by the leadership are more successful in part because, whether they realize it or not, they’re branding themselves. Branding—developing a unique, distinctive and consistent image—is vital for any lawyer hoping to stand out from the competition. It’s even more important to distinguish oneself in today’s post-recession economy. Demand for legal services, revenues and rates have all dropped significantly since the recession began in December 2007, according to a 2013 advisory by Hildebrandt Consulting and Citi Bank. The compound annual growth rate for revenues in the legal market was 9.8 percent leading into the recession. From 2008 to 2012, it was 0.8 percent. So how does a law firm – or an individual lawyer – develop a brand? In a firm, if you have a strong culture, start by giving it a closer look. What values define your culture? What rules govern interactions with clients? Do you have a collaborative team approach or independent individualistic lawyers? All of these answers will help you define your brand. If you’re an individual lawyer, you are your brand. Your personality, your look, how you present your practice all contribute to your brand identity. To build a successful, strong brand, you need to be sure these things convey what you want them to – and more important, appeal to your market. I offer these tips for building your brand: • Identify your personality, your specialty and your target market: These form the basis of your brand and it’s important for all three to work well together. I define my personality as “an innovator and educator who’s very social and very serious about financial protection.” My specialty is asset protection, and my target audience is all individuals with money, property or other assets that are not secured in the best way. • Decide what will appeal to that target audience: If you already have clients, look for what they have in common – it will say a lot about what they value and, hence, what appeals to them. Everything from the clothes they wear to the cars they drive to the information they share about themselves offer clues to what they value. Maybe it’s reliability. Nonconformity. Social status. Solid quality. Is that who you are? If so, make sure it’s reflected in your brand. • Think about what makes you different from your competition. From soda companies to athletic apparel manufacturers, every industry includes rivals selling the same products. Through branding, they distinguish themselves to appeal to their target audience – to set themselves apart. What makes you different from other divorce, criminal defense or corporate attorneys? How does that fit in with your personality, specialty and target market? • Look for ways to incorporate your personality into your practice. Everything from the furnishings in your office to the clothes you wear to your business card and website should incorporate the personality and values you want to convey. If the tone of the copy on your website is casual and lighthearted and you want your brand to say old-fashioned hard work and reliability, you need to have the copy rewritten. Your brand will be the foundation for your marketing, so take the time necessary to ensure all of the elements work in harmony. You don’t have to be everything to everyone – you can’t be. So focus on your niche audience and what’s important to them as well as what’s important to you. It will make you more successful both in setting yourself apart and attracting the types of clients you want to attract. Hillel L. Presser is the owner of Lawyer Marketing LLC, a company dedicated to helping lawyers effectively market their practices. He’s also the founder of The Presser Law Firm, P.A., representing individuals and businesses in establishing comprehensive asset protection plans. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s School of Management and Nova Southeastern University’s law school, and serves on Nova’s President’s Advisory Council. He also serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations for his professional athlete clients. He is a former adjunct faculty member of law at Lynn University. His recent book, “The Lawyers Law of Attraction: Marketing Outside the Box But Inside the Law,” is available on Amazon. lawyermarketingllc.com
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