The One Marketing Mistake Every Lawyer Makes

I hate when articles bury the point deep in the article, so here’s the mistake in the opening line: Lawyers don’t know what business they’re actually in.

If your response, when people ask “what do you do?” is similar to one of these:

  • I am a Family Lawyer
  • I do Appellate work
  • I am in Criminal Law
  • I am a Business Attorney
  • I do Property Law

then this article is for you. While this may be the title of your job, this doesn’t even come close to an accurate characterization of your business and likely will not entice any consumers to buy the product you are selling.

Think about Coca Cola, for example. They do not say they are soda manufacturers. They do not run commercials talking about the chemical process used in creating brown sugar water. They do not talk about what ingredients went into making Coke.

What they do is create advertisements like this one. If you didn’t take time to watch the video, that is fine. You’ve probably seen a million Coke advertisements by now and they all highlight the fact that Coke brings people together and makes them happy. And Coke does that because the business they are in is happiness.

Nearly every lawyer markets him or herself as a product.

  • I graduated from __________ law school.
  • I won ___________ legal award.
  • I’ve won ____$ in verdicts.

Title, qualifications, services they provide, etc… are misidentifications of what business you are in and you are alienating consumers who don’t care about any of that. Just like Coke drinkers don’t care about the manufacturing process, your clients don’t care about the process that manufactured you.

How do you correct this critical error?

To accurately express the business you are in, you need to determine the benefit of your product or the solution you are offering to a problem. People are buying something that makes their life better in some way. Does it provide safety? Does it give them time they wouldn’t otherwise have had? Does it ensure financial security for their children and grandchildren? Does it make them feel happy? Does it make them feel powerful? Does it make them feel like they are protecting the environment?

Start by asking yourself similar questions that focus on the benefits to the customer, rather than you and the data related to your company. If you are having difficulty thinking about the business from the customer’s perspective, go back in time and remember why you went into this business and what your original purpose was. If the answer to that is money, you better get deeper. What did you hope to accomplish? What did you want to change? And of course, what problem did you want to solve?

Once you can figure out the what you do for the consumer, from their point of view, you are ready to articulate the single message that clearly defines what business you are in.

Why is it necessary to fix this problem?

Imagine how boring those Coca Cola campaigns would be if they showed 4-methylimidazole — 4-MEI mixing with water to turn it that brown caramel color. Boring and gross. Instead their focus on happiness has resulted in Coke being around for 127 years and being a multi-billion-dollar business.

Imagine how terrible Nike would be if they sold shoes with still shots or video of shoes: mesh fabric, lightweight foam, and plastic. That would not inspire people to get off their couch to place their next order. Instead, their focus on motivation has resulted in 55 years of success, 1,000’s of different shoes being released, and yes, another multi-billion-dollar business.

Imagine what your campaign will look like if you decide to call yourself a Criminal Lawyer from the firm of Morgan, Clark, and Webster. Will you include the scales of justice in an ad campaign? Will you show middle-aged men in navy suits? Will you flash your credentials up on the screen? This has been done by just about every other firm in the history of legal marketing. Instead, you can focus on what you actually do for your consumer, launch provocative ad campaigns that focus on the benefit to clients, and ensure that you will be in business for a long time and generate substantial revenue.

Drew Vaughn

CMO – Deviant Marketing

[email protected]