Clients, especially those who are not legally sophisticated, often see lawyers as fungible… At least until they come to know, like, and trust a particular lawyer.
If you are simply one of a pool of fungible practitioners, you will be forced to rely on non-legal factors such as fee or fee structure, location, and sheer chance to stand out. To see how this problem manifests, look at a page of attorney listings in the Yellow Pages. (If you no longer retain copies of the Yellow Pages, visit yellowpages.com and search for divorce or business attorneys in your local area.) What draws your eye—positive or negative?
Fortunately, you are not one fungible lawyer in a pool of thousands. You bring some experience, skill, characteristic, perspective, procedure, or service to the table. What sets you apart from other lawyers in your practice area? For example, if you are a divorce lawyer, perhaps you speak a foreign language or your practice focuses on collaborative law. If you are a business lawyer, maybe you worked as a CPA before practicing law. If you are a patent attorney, perhaps you hold a Ph.D. in some area of science or engineering. These attributes may benefit your clients, and they therefore serve to differentiate you from other lawyers.
When you have identified these points of distinction, you can build your marketing around them. Not every client will respond to every distinguishing factor, of course, but identifying factors that speak to your ideal clients allows you to market persuasively.
Action Step: List at least three attributes that distinguish you from other lawyers and benefit your clients. If you are uncertain what these attributes may be, ask your clients and colleagues. Create a value statement to identify how each point of distinction benefits your clients. Then incorporate these distinctions and benefits into your marketing.