Welcome to part 4 of a 10-part series, Nine Ways You’re Losing Business—and What to Do About It.
Reason No. 3 You’re Losing Business:
You’re indistinguishable from other lawyers.
Very often, clients view one lawyer as essentially indistinguishable from another in the same area of practice. Especially for legally unsophisticated clients, a lawyer is a lawyer is a lawyer, and as long as she can handle the matter for the client and she “looks” ok—decent website, decent biographical sketch, decent office and staff—the assumption is that the lawyer will be adequate to meet the need. Even for more sophisticated clients who regularly hire lawyers, it can be difficult to find meaningful distinctions between competitors.
You have a way of approaching your practice and your clients that is partly innate and partly developed over the course of your practice. I call this your Attorney Avatar. I’ve identified six Attorney Avatars that describe practitioners: the Personality, the Partner, the Prophet, the Guru, the Guide, and the Gun. Each carries unique attributes and strengths and defines certain areas that will require attention to build a strong practice.
When you understand who you are as a practitioner, you can develop your attributes and characteristics to create a specific and systemized experience that you create for clients and potential clients. Of course, you must marry your clients’ needs with your own approach to practice, but when you keep both in mind you’ll create an experience that is unique to you because it’s driven by your attitudes and beliefs about what makes for a good practice and a good practitioner.
When you combine your Attorney Avatar with your Marketing Identity, which describes your natural skills and tendencies in the way you approach marketing, you design an initial experience that carries from the first moment a potential client encounters you (whether that’s via an article you’ve written, a presentation you’ve delivered, a visit to your website, or a personal meeting) throughout the course of the relationship.
The client experience can include everything from relations to education to recognition. Ask yourself, what impression would you like a client to have on first encountering you and your practice? How would you communicate that? What do you need to communicate to your client to orient him into your practice? What does your client need to know about the process of his matter and how to work with you? Everything you do, intentional or otherwise, creates a client experience.
When you know your Attorney Avatar (are you, for example, a Partner who focuses on client collaboration or a Gun who tends to have a high volume practice marked by specific processes and procedures to keep matters moving?), you have information that allows you to design a client experience in so doing to distinguish yourself from other practitioners. Ask yourself these questions to help you get a handle on this:
- How do you approach your clients and your practice?
- Do you have particular skills or experience that’s valuable to clients?
- Do you offer extra resources that help your clients?
- Do you have an unusual and effective approach to your practice?
- What non-legal steps do you take to orient your clients into your practice?
- How do you (or how should you) help clients understand how their matters will proceed?
When you know your clients and you know yourself, you can see not just what to bring forward to get and keep the business, but also how to do it. If you have useful experience, for example, the way you present it can significantly affect how a potential client will perceive that experience.
Knowing your Attorney Avatar and using it to create a unique client experience will help you to distinguish yourself from other lawyers. If you fail to do this, you will lose business.