If you truly want your practice or your law firm to grow, there is one question you’re going to have to stop asking and three questions you’re going to need to start asking.
I hear this one question regularly. It takes various forms, which I’ll discuss in a bit. It tends to come up every year right about this time because we have budgets and planning on our minds.
Recently a professional I respect a great deal shared that the firm is thinking about building out a room that will be equipped for podcasting and video, but the attorneys in the firm want to know if there are any other firms doing this and, if so, were those firms experiencing positive ROI as a result?
As I mentioned, this type of question surfaces in other ways, such as:
- Should we sponsor X Y or Z event? Some firms will say I don’t know, let’s see what the others are doing.
- Should we advertise in this space? I don’t know. Are the others doing it? Oh, the other firms are doing it? Yeah, then I think we’d better be there, too.
- Are other firms and lawyers using social media? I don’t know, but I think we need to see if they are before we jump in and waste our time.
- They’re starting a podcast.
- They’re doing video.
- They’re writing a blog post on a specific hot topic.
- They’re hosting their blogs on other platforms.
- They’re curating them in other places.
Oftentimes the thought process is reduced to: “If we find out these other firms are doing these things we’re curious about then, by golly, we should, too!”
I just listened to an episode of GaryVeeTV on YouTube. As you may know, GaryVee is Gary Vaynerchuk, and the guest that Gary had on this show, Chase Jarvis, Co-Founder of Creative Live, put the answer to these questions so succinctly and so perfectly, much better than I could have, that I thought I needed to share this with you right after I heard it.
What he said is:
“You cannot stand out and fit in at the same time.”
That bears repeating.
“You cannot stand out and fit in at the same time.”
Let’s think about that in the context of legal marketing. If we continue to ask the questions:
- What are others doing?
- Have you experienced positive ROI as a result of this?
- What is it doing for other firms?
- Does this work in legal marketing?
- We’ve seen somebody do it before and it doesn’t look like it was successful, so we won’t do it either.
- We’ve seen somebody do it before and it looked pretty successful, so let’s do it, too!
But that word too, we’re going to do it or not do it, too, is what is going to get you in trouble because if you continue to copy and do what other lawyers and other firms are doing just because they are doing it then you are never going to stand out. You are only going to fit in.
What does fitting in do for any of us? It doesn’t help us stand out to our clients and our potential clients, our referral sources, or media we hope will write about what we’re doing, does it?
No, it doesn’t.
I have three questions for you to start asking instead.
The first question is: How do I want to tell my story? I am a lawyer. I am with this firm. How do I want to tell that story? How do I talk about what I do?
The second question is: What do I want to do with this marketing effort? What is it I am trying to achieve? Who am I trying to talk to? What messages am I trying to convey? Who am I trying to help? What do I want to do?
The third question is: What makes me me? What makes me different? What is my personal brand all about and how am I going to uniquely convey what that brand is regardless of what other firms are doing?
It doesn’t matter if another firm is putting out videos or creating podcasts, or you’re hearing stories about ROI or the lack thereof.
It doesn’t matter.
Let’s look at this from a different angle. Let’s use me as an example. If another legal marketing professional heard that I was doing an Alexa Flash Briefing on Amazon and said “Oh, then I need to do that, too!” that does absolutely nothing for that legal marketer.
But if that legal marketer said “You know what? I’m going to do this because I want to stand out and I want to send my message in my own way. I don’t care what Nancy Myrland is doing. I need to do what’s right for me and my law firm clients.”
The same example goes for you. It does not matter if another lawyer or another law firm is doing something. Sure, you can find case studies about how other firms are doing just about anything but it has nothing to do with how you are going to do it, or how you should do it because you need to tell your story with the tools that are best for you.
You don’t need to tell a story that looks just like theirs.
If you are trying to decide whether or not you should outfit a room in your office for podcasting and video, the answer is absolutely you should, but not because other firms are doing it.
You should do it because what matters is that the reality and the trends that speak to that practice tell you it is a smart idea. You don’t have to go very far to find out that the numbers of people listening via audio and watching via video are escalating at a very rapid pace. They’re also watching video with captions because they are consuming it in quiet places where their mobile device is on silent.
In summary, what you need to do is:
- Decide how you want to tell your story.
- Decide what you want to do based on what you are trying to accomplish.
- Decide what makes you different.
What will help consumers of your content think…oh yes, this is characteristically him! I really value what he publishes and I look forward to reading, watching, or listening to it.
Once you have made those decisions, then you need to set about doing those things you were considering regardless of whether other firms are doing them or have done them. You don’t know their circumstances or their commitment to the long haul of that marketing tactic, or their willingness to try something a little outside the traditional law firm box.
You need to put these activities into your marketing and business development plans and stop asking what other firms are doing.
The only time it makes sense for you to ask those questions is if you ask if another firm is sponsoring an event that you’ve been approached to sponsor as well.
It has always been my contention that if you cannot stand out and you cannot be above or different in some way and negotiate a package that is a better marketing and promotions package for you at a higher level, do not just blend in. Do not melt into the rest of the logos in the program, banner, or website so that you look just like everybody else. Find a way to make your sponsorship stand out.
Don’t forget what Chase Jarvis said: You cannot stand out and fit in at the same time.
- Be better than that.
- Be more strategic.
- Stop asking if other firms are doing it.
- Don’t forget to trust your legal marketing professional’s opinion when making a recommendation.
Start asking the three questions discussed above:
- How do you want to tell your story?
- What do you want to do?
- What makes you different?
Please do me a favor and let me know your thoughts about this topic.
My goal for you is that you will look at this comparison game differently going forward.
I want you to stand out. I don’t want you to just fit in.
My clients don’t just fit in, so I don’t want you to just fit in either.
Nancy Myrland is a Marketing, Business Development, Content, Social & Digital Media Speaker, Trainer & Advisor, helping lawyers and legal marketers grow by integrating all marketing disciplines in order to maximize business development efforts to grow their practices. Known as the LinkedIn Coach For Lawyers, she is a frequent LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook for Business trainer, as well as a content marketing specialist. She helps lawyers, law firms, and legal marketers learn and implement marketing and business development efforts that are more relevant to their current and potential clients. She also helps lead law firms through their online social media strategy when dealing with high-stakes, visible cases. As an early and constant adopter of social and digital media and technology, she also helps firms with blogging, podcasts, video marketing, voice marketing, flash briefings, and livestreaming.
If you would like to reserve an hour of Nancy’s time to begin talking strategy or think through an issue you are having, you can do that here.