Think about the last time there was a serious problem that needed to be fixed at your home – the furnace went out on a cold day or a pipe burst and water was running down your walls. Now imagine if, during this moment of panic, a highly qualified and dependable repair person contacted you out of the blue and said they could be at your front door within 15 minutes to fix the problem. Would you be offended by this sales pitch, or would you be grateful for the offer? My guess is that you – like me – would immediately give the guy your address, and greet him with a hug and an open checkbook when he arrived.
“Selling” has become a dirty word. It connotes sleaze and pushiness, and there’s no doubt that some salespeople are sleazy and pushy. But in most cases, it’s not that salespeople do anything underhanded or aggressive that turns us off, it’s just that they hit us up with something we don’t need or at a time we don’t need it. This is true whether you’re a used car salesman, an Apple store “Genius” or a corporate litigator.
This is one of the reasons that it’s so important to define a niche as a lawyer and direct your marketing and business development towards it. Like the HVAC repairman who shows up at your doorstep at just the right moment, the lawyer who offers specific solutions to a specific market is welcomed with, if not open arms, at least an open mind.
If you’re good at what you do and know who you serve, I would argue that marketing and selling – defined as “informing potential clients of the types of problems you solve, and offering to solve theirs for an exchange of value” – is not only not offensive, it’s practically your duty to sell. There are people out there who need what you can provide, and they have a problem. Most don’t know who to turn to for a solution. If you don’t sell to them, someone else will. This doesn’t mean being pushy or aggressive, but it does mean presenting them with something specific to either accept or reject – whether that be a proposal, or an offer to meet for coffee to continue discussing a path forward.
At the end of the day, marketing and selling legal services is pretty simple:
- Choose a niche in order to understand who you serve.
- Create awareness of your personal brand and reputation among potential clients and referral sources in your niche through activities like networking, content production, and public speaking.
- Demonstrate empathy and understanding of the types of problems and opportunities faced by members of your target market.
- Showcase your subject matter expertise and authority to demonstrate you’re the right lawyer to help them get what they want.
- Present them with the option to engage your services.
While it’s simple, it’s not easy, and the first step – understanding who you serve – is often the hardest. If you try to serve everyone then you can never have a contextualized conversation with anyone that demonstrates either understanding or expertise. Instead of doing the hard work and making the hard choices required to narrow focus, it’s easy to accept the commonly held (limiting) belief that the best way to market and sell your services as a lawyer is to cast as wide a net as possible. The exact opposite is true. As in any form of communication, be it a book, a movie, or a lawyer’s elevator pitch, nothing else matters unless and until you define your audience and get your story straight.
I urge you to make the hard choices. Once you do, everything gets easier. Marketing, which once seemed like an insurmountable task when you were targeting everyone, becomes simple when you’re narrowly focused. The people you need to reach, the publications they read, and the events they attend all come into focus. Selling becomes less taxing because you speak their language, understand their issues, and as a result your message is met with far less skepticism – and often outright enthusiasm.
Interested in establishing a niche, but don’t know where to start?
Consider what you like to do, what you’re good at, and what opportunities exist in the marketplace. If you can find some commonality among them, you’re on your way to defining your niche. Again, once you do, everything gets easier.
Could you use a bit of help in defining your target market, and positioning yourself as an expert with clients, potential clients and referral sources within a niche?
I am currently accepting applications to my Elite Lawyer Coaching program, which involves one-on-one strategic consulting and coaching to help lawyers set and reach their business goals in 2018. If you’re interested in dramatically growing your practice this year, contact me at 313.432.0287 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free consultation to discuss how we can work together to define clear goals, create a specific plan of action, and ensure accountability as you work toward achieving your objectives. Let’s chat soon, as I only have a few slots remaining for new applicants. Also, please check out my new book, The Essential Associate, which is now available for purchase.