Weekly Rainmaker Activity 10/05/09

One of the comments to last week’s WRA post about checking written materials for client-centric language requested an example of a “good” paragraph and a “bad” paragraph.  Because of my travel schedule, I knew I wouldn’t be able to respond until today, so today’s WRA offers the requested examples.

Please note: these examples are drawn from my own imagination – written while sitting, to be completely transparent, without Internet access at the San Francisco airport.

A “good” paragraph might look something like this:

“As a small business owner, you know that your employees are critical to your business.  What they know and do (and what they don’t do) can make a substantial difference in your bottom line.  Especially if you have previous experience in a larger company, you are probably aware of the value of documents like employee manuals and specific employee policies that speak to the rights and responsibilities of yourself and your employees.  And if you’ve ever had a problem from an employee who claimed that you discriminated against him or her in a hiring, promotion, or termination decision, you know that such claims can pose a threat even to the most solid companies’ operation, pulling time, money, and attention away from your business operations.

At Smith, Jones, and Richards, we understand your concerns and provide the full range of employment law solutions to small businesses.”

A “bad” paragraph speaking to the same area of law:

“The attorneys of Smith, Jones, and Richards have extensive experience in drafting employee manuals and associated documentation, as well as in defending employers against discrimination claims.  Our approach is to deliver the same services to small businesses that other firms offer big businesses, but we do so at a reasonable fee and with an understanding of small business concerns.  The partners of Smith, Jones, and Richards have a total of over seventy-five years in practice and are graduates of the nation’s top law schools.  Our lawyers have been recognized in merit-based directories such as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers of America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in the World.  You’re in capable hands with Smith, Jones, and Richards.”

Do you see the difference between these two examples?  While the basic operating principle is the same in both (serving the employment law needs of small businesses), the first paragraph discusses those needs from the clients’ point of view.  The second simply references the clients’ point of view but focuses on the firm’s and its lawyers’ credentials.  Credentials are important, but clients are often pulled toward a lawyer who demonstrates an understanding of their concerns and has credentials that indicate competence as opposed to one who “markets” on credentials alone.

So, with these examples, take another look at the written marketing material you selected last week.  Is it written from a client-centric point of view?  If not, spend some time revising it.

If you’re uncertain about the point of view or about how to make client-centric revisions, we should talk.  You can also find more information in Chapters 4 and 6 of The Reluctant Rainmaker (also available on Amazon.com).

2 replies
  1. Britt Urbach
    Britt Urbach says:

    That’s so funny that you wrote a post about this! Our marketing firm was recently discussing the difference b/w being too “self-centered” on your website as oppose to “client-centered.”

    As a company that helps other small businesses with their business message, we too often see the second example (the bad paragraph) in our clients’ web copy. In order to project the correct brand message, you need to focus on the benefits you provide for customers, not the things that make your company “so great.” Thanks for this great post!

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