I recently presented a workshop at the Dispute Resolution Conference in Nottingham, England focusing on how lawyers can differentiate themselves in a competitive market. Carrie Rudge, an Oxford based lawyer, attended the workshop and wrote a helpful article for The Review, Resolution’s First for Family Law publication, explaining how she applied the specific strategies in the workshop to her practice. Read Carrie’s article below.
How to become slightly famous. Attract better (not just more) clients.
Written By: Carrie Rudge, Hedges Law
Along with Henry Brown’s lecture, this workshop, presented by Elizabeth Ferris, was my highlight at the 2017 DR Conference. The presentation was excellent and it provided delegates with considerable food for thought in relation to how we attract more of the clients we want. Ferris Consulting helps law firms over the globe with their strategic marketing. The objective of this workshop was to communicate how we can be at the forefront of the minds of the clients we want, at the point when they need our services. It was also about ensuring that we, as family lawyers, obtain fulfillment from our work, by doing more of the work we are passionate about and in which we have spent significant time and effort building expertise.
Three steps to clarify your focus.
Elizabeth explained how this can be achieved in three stages:
- Being specific about the work we are passionate about, and expressing this in a way that relates to solving the client’s problem, rather than the service we provide. For example, by stating our expertise lies in solving complex cases, a difficult spouse, a mental health problem, narcissism, hidden assets, company directors or a spouse living abroad. Elizabeth suggested that specifying expertise around these sorts of issues is likely to be much more important and identifiable to a client than simply stating that we provide mediation, a conciliatory approach, or that we have TOLATA expertise.
- Being specific about our expertise and what we are good at. The key is to identify what additional expertise we need in order to be the best that we can be at delivering the work we are passionate about.
- Finding the clients who need and value the services we feel passionate about, and in which we have this expertise. For example, who are the other professionals with whom they interact, what magazines do they read etc. Then, putting in place an action plan to communicate with these clients, and ensuring that all of our marketing is aligned to our passions and expertise.
Before the workshop, Elizabeth had considered our website profiles on the basis that almost all clients will review their prospective family lawyer’s profile. The findings were that there was often little to distinguish between us, with frequent use of generic statements such as ‘I deal with matters in a conciliatory way’, ‘I avoid litigation for my clients where possible’, ‘she is known for being friendly and approachable’, ‘he really listens to his clients and provides full advice’. Instead of these general statements, Elizabeth’s advice was to be specific about the problems that we can solve for the clients we want. For example, by referring to uncovering hidden assets, obtaining valuations of companies, or dealing with a difficult wife or husband. Build your personal framework for accelerated growth.
Stay top of mind with your target clients.
Since the workshop, I have certainly started to review my practice with the objective of doing more of the work I enjoy, by addressing the three points:
- Establish your brand and reputation.
- What do you do well?
- What work do you like?
- Who is your target client?
- Build your expertise.
- What skills do you need to develop to increase your value to your chosen clients?
- Build and maintain your visibility.
- How will you communicate and reach your clients, and what action will you put in place to achieve this?
Build your personal framework for accelerated growth.
Applying this to my own practice, I have thought about my own brand: I feel passionate and have particular expertise in helping unmarried couples protect their assets before cohabitation, assisting unmarried parents resolve financial matters after separation when one has greater wealth than the other, and helping married couples with assets of £1 to £10 million, particularly when significant pensions are involved. I will be changing my website profile to reflect this and ensuring the talks I give, the articles I write and my social media are all in line with this.
As a passionate mediator, I am also constantly “banging the mediation drum”, but after attending this workshop I have questioned the extent to which this is a selling point from a client’s viewpoint. If a client’s primary concern is that you have the expertise to solve their problem, deciding how the problem is solved comes later.
In conclusion, the workshop has certainly given me a considerable amount to think about and action in relation to the way in which I market and differentiate myself from other family lawyers. It has given me the basic framework within which I can continue to develop my individual brand, so that a potential client has a reason to choose me as opposed to another family lawyer.