Build a Brand? No: Here Are Five Things To Do First
Well, it happened again yesterday.
I received a telephone call from a lawyer with a small but growing law firm. He just signed a contract with an “advertising company” to improve his brand.
He was calling to see if I would assist with some of the decisions his “branding consultant” wanted him to make. This was tough stuff. Color and style of the logo. Decor of the office to match it. Layout of the website. Font and formatting of the stationary. Size of the business cards. And of course, what style of pen to give away to everyone.
Now, this was not a struggling law firm. The guy who called was the owner and managing partner. He built the firm into a three lawyer, two paralegal, real estate practice. They did all kinds of transactions and some litigation. Their year-to-date billing exceeded $1.3 million. That’s not too shabby for a three year old firm.
I asked him what, exactly, his new “brand” was going to do for him.
After thinking for a full minute he said: “Help me make more money.”
“How?” I responded.
There was another long silence and finally he said: “They told me with a better brand I could charge more money.”
Of course the “they” in that sentence was the advertising agency he paid to help him with this project.
Think logically about that statement. Different colors on a website, better pens, and a new look for your business cards and clients will give you more money? Does that make sense?
Here’s the thing:
Branding is the position your business (law firm) holds in the mind of the client.
Example: You think of me as the GO TO guy for law firm strategy and business development advice. But that has nothing to do with my fancy logo and stylish business cards (I don’t have promotional pens). You think of me this way because I produce valuable information you can use to help with those areas of your practice.
Branding is a byproduct of the other marketing activity.
That last sentence is really important.
My “brand” developed because of the value my business provides. Not because of the color of the chairs in my office.
Advertising people and “branding experts” have it backwards. They try to create a “persona” or a “brand essence” and then have your business conform to it.
That’s when things really get confusing.
Somewhere along the way, every business began to think they were Apple and Coca-Cola.
Those are huge companies with infinite advertising budgets. They can show their logo hundreds of thousands of times and burn it into your brain. That’s why their logo is so important. They buy people’s attention and they need to give them something pretty to look at when they do.
You must earn the attention of everyone who visits your website or listens to you speak. And you’re only getting one shot at it. You better provide them with something more valuable than some pretty design and a basket full of kittens.
To help with this value-based approach to marketing, I’m going to provide you with a checklist of five things that you MUST focus on before you say the word “brand”.
Identify Your Ideal Client
You don’t want to attract “just any old client.” You want to attract people who have the potential to be your BEST client. This requires identifying the needs of the clients who come to your office and your ability to help him.
Determine the Value You Provide To Your Client
What do you do better than anyone else to help the ideal client? What is the impact you can have on his life or his business? What message can you deliver to help your ideal client understand how you can help him?
Figure Out What Your Ideal Client Reads, Watches and Where He Hangs Out
You need to know where you ideal client is at all times. Where does he live? What does he read? What groups/organizations does he belong to?
You need to know where to place your message to reach your ideal client.
Put Yourself in Your Client’s Path
Once you have the message and the market identified, you simply need to get into in front of the right people with the right message. Again this involves understanding who the client is, what’s important to him and how you can provide value in helping him relieve his pain or achieve his goals.
Make Your Client An Offer
Finally you should offer your ideal client an opportunity to engage you. This can be something as simple as delivering a free report or video. The key is to get the prospective client to take action.
Here is the point in all of this:
Branding is not bad. But irresponsible people have co-opted the term and are using it to distract you from the basics of action-oriented marketing.
You build a brand by helping people solve their problems and achieve their goals. For a law firm (or an entrepreneurial business) a brand is a byproduct of the value you deliver to your clients.
A brand is about the client outcome, not you or your firm. Keep your ego out of it and focus on what you can do for the client. If you do, your brand will naturally develop.
Here are some important resources you may have missed but need to check out right now:
This article and the included audio podcast will help crystallize your thinking about your firm. You will discover why you are focusing on the WRONG things now and how you can refocus on the RIGHT things to build the lifestyle you deserve.
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