When Different Becomes Generic: How to create a marketing message that is unique and effective

As a leading developer of legal websites, we’ve worked with hundreds of firms across the country. We’ve created sites for just about every practice area from estate planning to personal injury and criminal defense to civil litigation. Despite their varied expertise, the overwhelming majority of our clients are Small Law attorneys practicing as solo practitioners or in a firm with 10 or fewer attorneys.

When these firms enroll with us, we have an exploratory call where we learn all about their practices and marketing goals.   In our first conversation, we ask the simple question—what message do you want to convey with your firm’s site? In response, 95% of our clients say “that we’re different.” Many have come from Am Law 100 backgrounds and want to shed the reputation that many firms carry with them—that they are expensive and largely inaccessible. And while this message of being different, with lower rates and more personalized service is appealing to some prospective clients, it has become all too prevalent in legal marketing and is far from “different.”

So how do you effectively market your unique value without a generic tagline about your accessibility or cheaper rates? Well the answer is rather simple; demonstrate the tangible benefits that you offer to your clients that other competitors may not be able to provide.

Did you work in the HR industry for a large corporation for years before you entered law school and started practicing employment law? Emphasize your diverse and relevant experience.

Are you an elder law attorney who serves on the board of trustees for a senior community center? Highlight that you immerse yourself in your specialization even in your time away from the office.

Now this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t mention value or accessibility but you’re going to need something more to really make you stand out, and that something more should be based upon the unique benefit that you offer based upon your experiences and expertise.

In defining your marketing message and what makes you really different from other local firms, take into account the experience you’ve drawn from all of the work you’ve done to date, even if it was in a different practice area or with a much larger firm. And take time to look at the big picture of your expertise; it wasn’t just developed by drafting contracts or arguing your case in the courtroom, it was developed throughout your lifetime through your education, personal experiences, volunteer work, great verdicts and not so great outcomes, former mentors who shaped you and by the diverse clients that you’ve served. By including these sorts of details prominently, you’re not relying on superfluous adjectives in a catchy tagline to set you apart, you’re advertising the real value that you bring to the table — you.

Victoria A. Stovall is Vice President of Operations for Amicus Creative Media, an attorney web design and marketing company, and a NYCLA member benefit partner. She can be contacted at 877-269-0076.

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