Every Attorney Should Pick a Niche and be an Expert
One of the most important things that every law firm and every lawyer needs to strive towards is having credibility. People need to believe that behind your name there is a vast sea of knowledge, ideas and ability. Many attorneys seem to believe that doing a good job, one client at a time is all that they can do to build confidence in their brand. The truth is that there are a whole host of things you can do convince potential clients and the general community that you are an expert.
One of the most important things you can do to build your brand is to position yourself as an expert in your niche market. As you read through the articles here at Rainmaker Lawyer, you’ll find that theme repeated again and again. Every attorney wants to be the leader of the pack. The fact of the matter is that the lawyer or law firm that is the “best” is the one who is perceived as being the best. These two things are not always the same.
You may not be able to control the outcome of every case. You may not be able to guarantee that the clients with the best cases come to you and not the competition. What you can control is how potential clients, referral sources, and the general public perceive you and your firm. You can be perceived as an expert in your law specialty. Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin your journey into the land of experts.
You need a regular platform for your ideas and suggestions. You need a space for people to hear from you. There are several ways to do this, you can blog or send out print or email newsletters. You get published in magazines and send the clips to your top contacts as part of a “what’s going on” mailing. You can reach out to the media and offer your legal opinion on controversial issues. You can do speaking engagements; write a book, offer to give workshops to local organizations, the list really is endless. One way or another, you need to develop a space where you can be heard. As your reputation grows, so will the list of those who want to hear from you.
Become a provider of solutions to anyone willing to listen. There are different ways to establish your expertise. One of the most popular ways is to provide people with solutions. This is sometimes a touchy subject because you might be giving away potential work by spelling out the answers of common legal questions, but the benefit usually far outweighs this possibility.
For example, explaining to people where they can get do-it yourself legal forms for minor legal issues can mean that those people don’t come to you to have those specific services performed. However, what it also does is let the consumer know that you are more interested in adding value to their lives than in your own bottom line. It communicates that you really are in this to help people and provide solutions. In this scenario, potential clients are much more apt to listen to and trust you when you explain that certain things really should be handled by an attorney.
Don’t try to control responses. When you begin marketing yourself by adding value, there is one thing that you will have to get used to. Usually in marketing you need to constantly be aware of whether or not your message is landing the way that you want it to. However, when you start trying to position yourself as an expert, it’s important to focus on the quality of content in your message. If you try to walk the straight and narrow, never saying anything that would ruffle any feathers, then you’re going to be boring.
People may not always like what you have to say. You may paint a dire picture of a situation when people really want to be cheered up. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Having an active, passionate debate on your blog or anywhere else is interesting and will create more interest in your ideas. There are times, actually, there are a lot of times when you had better be sure that people are happy with what you’re saying. However, when you position yourself as an expert and start to get your name out there, people are going to look for more than a talking head. Have an opinion and don’t be afraid to use it.
Talk like an expert without talking down to people. There is a fine line between talking over people’s heads and talking in a way that makes them realize that they need your services. If your speech is full of complicated, unexplained legal terms, you’ll come across as dry, boring and arrogant. You need to be accessible to your readership and those who listen to your speeches. Your language should always be clear and should utilize common terms. When using legal terms can’t be avoided, make sure that you give them an easily explained definition. This cannot be stressed enough. If you need to use metaphors or made up scenarios to explain your point, do it. Don’t lose your audience, they may not come back.
Being an expert is really more a state of mind than anything else. Of course you have to be an ethical, competent attorney, but people are really looking for quality, credible information. There are attorneys out there who are at the top of their game, they never make a mistake and they know all the answers. But nobody knows their name. Market yourself, market your firm, position yourself as the best. You really have nothing to lose from the effort.
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