“Me too” Marketing?

“Me too” marketing refers to virtually indistinguishable marketing messages and offers for products or services from multiple providers. Unless you see a name or logo associated with the marketing, you’d have a tough time knowing which provider issued “ me too” marketing because it all sounds alike.

Attorneys often fall into “me too” marketing for some good reasons: tight ethics rules, wanting to appear professional, and budgeting. Ethics rules may be interpreted to prohibit (or may actually prohibit) anything out of the norm when it comes to marketing by lawyers, and concerns about appearing professional may have exactly the same effect. And budgeting, especially but not exclusively for smaller firms, often leads to a website that’s simply a “customized” template that looks like all the other “customized” templates out there with equally indistinguishable copy.

Take a look at your own website, your biographical sketch, or a recent blog post or article you’ve written (or any other marketing materials you have handy): does it sounds like what everybody else says? If it does, you’ve fallen into “me too” marketing. Here’s an easy test: does your website or bio sketch describe you/your firm as experienced? Client-centric or client-focused? Providers of high-quality work? Collaborative? Innovative? While you and/or your firm may be just that, saying so isn’t proof… Especially when everybody else says the same thing.

So how can you break out of “me too” marketing? Try these ideas.

  1. Make it about your potential client. Marketing is designed to introduce you to a potential client, but if it’s focused too much on you (how experienced, client-focused, and collaborative you are in providing high-quality work, for example) it’s boring, duplicative of others, and not persuasive.

    Start with your potential client’s perspective. What is that person thinking about when they come to your website, read your article, or talk with you? Chances are that they’re wondering if you can solve whatever problem has prompted them to find you. So start there.

    Let your potential client know you understand the issues she’s facing. This is the place to demonstrate knowledge, not just say you’ve got it. If you’re in person, ask questions. If not, use stories to illustrate that you understand. Then you can extend those stories to discuss your experience in solving the problems.
  2. Use your potential client’s language. If he discusses his problem using legal terminology, you should too. But you won’t gain any points for discussing “constructive eviction” if your client is concerned that he’s about to be involved in litigation because a tenant is claiming that conditions make it impossible live or work in the potential client’s rental property. Using legal terminology that a potential client doesn’t understand doesn’t make you look smart or professional: it’s confusing and might even alienate a potential client.
  3. Figure out what makes you different and highlight that. And know it’s ok that some potential clients will be turned off. Good marketing offers a quick “is this for me?” test – The reaction to good marketing is a gut-level “yes, this speaks to me” or “no, thanks,” and then the potential client may engage in further rational inquiry to test that initial reaction. If your marketing is designed to appeal to everyone, it won’t connect deeply with anyone. 

    Points of distinction must matter to your clients and potential clients; otherwise, it’s just a distraction.  And, of course, knowing what matters to your clients and potential clients takes you right back to point #1. 

It takes some courage to escape “me too” marketing. By definition, when you break free from looking like everybody else, you don’t look like everybody else, which can be a bit unnerving. If you give it a try, though, you’ll discover that standing out in ways that are appealing to your ideal clientele will benefit your practice.

(P.S. Were you surprised that I included the biographical sketch in the list of marketing material to review? After all, a bio sketch is, well, just a short statement of your qualifications and experience, right? Nope. I’ll tackle this in next week’s column.)

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