Law Firm Marketing: How to Develop Your Unique Selling Proposition

Most conversations about marketing a law firm – or really, most businesses – are focused on the medium, not the message. It’s easy to get distracted by bright shiny objects – “Should we try AdWords? What about SEO? Or maybe a billboard?

Those are good conversations to have. The problem is that most firms aren’t first having a conversation about their marketing message. The channels you use to communicate your message are only as good as the message itself.

At the core of your marketing message lies your Unique Selling Proposition (USP.) It should answer the following question:

Why should a customer choose to do business with you instead of all other options in your category, including cheaper options, and including the option of doing nothing?

It’s exceedingly rare that a client will have to do business with you. The legal market is more crowded than it has ever been. Almost certainly, there are lawyers in your market who offer the same services as you do at rock-bottom rates.

Internet-based services offer forms and other legal services for even less – LegalZoom currently offers to create a Last Will and Testament for $69, a Business Operating Agreement for $99, or an Uncontested Divorce for $749 per couple.  

The option of “doing nothing” is a real threat as well. Consumers regularly avoid hiring a lawyer due to cost – even middle and upper-income consumers.

The job of your marketing is to give your clients a compelling reason to take action – to show them why investing in your services is an investment they can’t afford NOT to make.

An Effective Unique Selling Proposition Creates Clear Differentiation  

World Class Insights that Generate World Class Results. (Deloitte.)

When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. (FedEx.)

Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free. (Domino’s Pizza)

Each of these selling propositions differentiated their respective businesses and created billions of dollars in revenue. In each of these examples, there is a very clear and compelling reason for their customers to choose them – instead of all other options, including cheaper options and including the option of doing nothing.

A good unique selling proposition is worth millions of dollars to your business. Let’s talk about how to create yours.

How to Develop Your Unique Selling Proposition

It starts with selecting the right target market. Your ideal clients should have a need for your services AND the ability to pay rates that you’re happy with. It’s very difficult for any small business to thrive by competing on price, because clawing out a high income on tiny margins requires a transaction volume that’s not realistic.

Once you’ve zeroed in on your target market, answer the following:

Who are your ideal clients? The more detailed your profile, the better. How old are they? What’s their average income? What languages do they speak? Where are they located geographically?

What are their pain points? What are their (often unspoken) fears as it relates to your services?

Example: Entrepreneurs worry that their life’s work and everything they’ve put in the bank could be wiped away by an angry customer or an unfortunate accident. They’re not really looking for a business attorney because they have a transactional need – they’re looking for someone who can help them sleep well at night, secure in the knowledge that their lifetime of work is protected.

What are their goals? This is the other side of the coin – what are your clients really hoping for, beyond their transactional needs? An immigration attorney isn’t selling complicated paperwork – he’s selling the opportunity to be reunited with loved ones or the opportunity to pursue their dreams.  

With this background information in place, look for opportunities to differentiate your practice and add superior value to your services. Here are several ways to consider doing this.

You can offer:

  • Faster service (“guaranteed call-back within X hours”)
  • More personal service (direct access to the owner/partner)
  • Services above and beyond the basics
  • Flexible payment structure
  • Experience (“Been there, done that, I’ve seen it all”)
  • Specialized focus (“I’m not a jack-of-all-trades, I focus exclusively on…”)
  • First-class experience (Your staff, your office, your communications)
  • Exclusivity (“We have the only solution that includes…”)
  • Convenience (Extended hours, convenient location, streamlined process)

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions here – you’ll have to put the pieces together. A good unique selling proposition will likely combine one or more of these concepts in a way that creates unique and compelling value for your target market.

Your Unique Selling Proposition Drives Your Marketing Message

With a rock-solid USP in place, you’ve done the hard work. Now make sure that your value proposition is properly communicated – on your website, on social media, by your team during consultations, and across all of your advertising and business development channels.

Note that your unique selling proposition is not the same as a slogan or tagline – although there can be overlap. It may be explicitly stated, but it doesn’t have to be. What’s important is that your value proposition is clearly conveyed to your target market, using language that resonates with them and positions you as the right solution for their needs.

What’s your unique selling proposition?

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Daniel Decker

Daniel Decker is a co-founder and Partner at Spotlight Branding. In addition to helping lawyers stand out from the crowd, he spends his time writing, dreaming up new marketing strategies, and coming up with catchy subject lines. In his spare time, Daniel enjoys playing sports, guitar, politics, and Minnesota sports.