Unusual Ways To Promise Attractive Advantages

(Use Proven Marketing Rules On Your Modern Website)

NO ADVANTAGE TO CLIENTS MEANS NO CLIENTS!

'Normal Marketing' cannot attract the new clients you want.

Examining the normal list of fundamental stages for marketing we can see the problems from the professional's point of view:

1. Get Attention – “That doesn't come naturally to us.” 
2. Promise an Advantage – “But our 'products' are invisible!” - THIS EDITION
3. Prove that Advantage – “This is difficult to communicate too.”
4. Convince People they will Gain – “We can't guarantee results.”
5. Ask for Action – “Informed consent complicates this too.”

“Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement.” Samuel Johnson


[Compiled from MORE Marketing Tips - a short series on Promising Advantages,
based on the Short Thoughts blog at more.consulting]

The nature of professional work makes marketing difficult
  • There are elements of traditional marketing that often can't be used
  • The professions have difficult-to-describe aspects of their services
  • The emotion-laden client is usually more sensitive about what to expect

So the professions cannot design their marketing materials exactly as other businesses do.

Table of Contents:

“We can't Show Advantages the way others do”
      Provide Information You Know They ALREADY want!
      Seize Advantages That Suit You Where Others Ignore Them
      Make Sure You Offer A VERY Explicit Invitation

“We can't Show Advantages the way others do”


Imagine walking through a farmers market, browsing for your food shop.
You would look at everything, perhaps pick up some veg and test its firmness, and maybe sniff the fruit to detect its odour. And then you'd compare with several others while hefting it in your hand as if to weigh the decision...

You are examining the promise of what the produce will deliver when you eat it later.

Now imagine being the stall-holder, wanting to sell the produce and earn a living.
You would try to stand out as different to your neighbouring stalls. You would want to present your produce as attractively as possible. You would allow people to compare your offering as fairly as possible.

You are aiming to encourage sales, cost-effectively, now... and again many times in the future.

But professional services are invisible.

  • Clients cannot know in detail what they pay for
  • Often the outcome cannot be guaranteed in advance
  • And professional colleagues offer the same services

You will find it very difficult to show the advantages your firm offers. With invisible products, your brand is more important than ever. But the average 'strength' of brands seems to be declining as more firms get professional websites and crowd the market.

And your competitors' marketing messages are becoming very similar and 'me too', so clients are seduced away by tiny differences. So a dilemma emerges: how much difference to present?

More? And risk becoming unpopular?

Or slight? And risk being lost in the crowd?

Professional services are invisible

“In advertising, not to be different is virtually suicidal” said Bill Bernbach, co-founder of one of the first global advertising agencies. That doesn't mean garish, futuristic or outlandish - it could mean quietlyproviding what clients actually want because so few do.

Provide Information You Know They ALREADY want!

First-time potential clients have questions they want answers to... before they even start talking about their problem or opportunity that needs professional help. 

If you provide those answers in a clear and friendly way, you are more likely to get to the discussion of their professional issue than those that don't. 

"Client Experience: The new differentiator for law firms"

In the legal industry, this new LexisNexis research white paper says:
"Client experience is emerging as the new frontier on which law firms are competing.

"This is not surprising in the larger context of professional service firms: big four accounting firms and firms in management consulting have been through a similar journey.

"However, a focus on client experience is new to many law firms, especially in the light of past research that shows persistent disconnects between them and their clients.

"The repositioning has not been easy. Many have invested in client facing technology, but payoffs are slow.  More generally, law firms appear to be struggling with the question of how best to improve their client experience to the point of differentiation."

Start at their beginning

The Law Society, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, The Guardian and the Citizens Advice websites advise people searching for and choosing a solicitor. 

In total, they each list 4 or 5 issues issues that potential clients feel important.

These will all related to most professions. They are marketing clues that help you to help potential clients.

I have collated those issues into a list of 10 to give you a Quick DIY Survey. (This opens in a  new window and could take you as little as 2 minutes.)

You can check which answers you currently provide. And it could help you start to plan to include the other answers?

You could use the list to build an FAQ page. 

My research through Google identifies only 0.016% of solicitors' websites currently include an FAQ page.
So this is a very easy way to differentiate yourselves from your competitors.

If you feel unsure about preparing this, please let me help you.
[It is entirely possible that as a professional unknown to you apart from these emails, you would want answers to several of those 10 questions before contacting me, too! Why not check their validity by imagining you might call me? Amuse yourself - a free bonus!]

Seize Advantages That Suit You Where Others Ignore Them

SRA's new regulatory model

As the  legal industry separates into several different business models, the rules and regulations applying will be different.

With the ABS model tending to create specialists, the new freelance solicitor model being opened as a permitted version, and unregulated firms working in small niches, the landscape is becoming more complex.

Anna Bradley, Chair of the SRA Board, said: “...our new regulations are designed to help people access a wide range of high quality services with the confidence that proper protections are in place.” 

These changes affect client protections, something that obviously concerns clients best interests.While few clients will ever ask about these, they form an important issue relevant to clients as they check out a firm before choosing.

A matter of perspective

Like the GDPR event just over a year ago, many firms will approach the changes as an administrative nuisance. However, it also a marketing opportunity.

I researched the emails businesses of all sorts sent out to advise clients of their compliance. Out of over 100 emails, 98% took the administrative perspective, usually calling the issue a policy update. These were difficult to read and impossible to enjoy. The other 2% made use of the event to promote themselves.

While the SRA changes might seem more relevant to websites, you could consider an email to existing clients explaining it all, to help retain them. The worst business tragedy is a former or existing client going to another firm because they didn't fully realise what you offer.

For both website and email, the choice of mental approach is important. It is a marketing opportunity in which you can show how your firm provides advantages that other firms may not.

Some advantages may be general. But others may relate specifically to the clients you want to work with. These are worth spelling out so that potential clients understand the differences.

Your marketing approach

So if you take the marketing approach to the exercise, you can provide factual information and benefit commercially. Is that worth some mental preparation before the November launch?

Only 2% of your competitors will do so, if my statistics above are anything to go by. So, in a small way, you will stand out as differentiated.

And once you've started to present yourself in less traditional ways... who knows how much you could gain?

[Breaking the mould is not easy. Dare you risk exploring just how adventurous you are in your approach to marketing? Try this harmless questionnaire.]

If you are unused to the mental gymnastics involved in this method (technically called reframing), please ask me to help as I am used to it. Chatting about the issue is free-of-charge and no-commitment, and could be fun too!

Make Sure You Offer A VERY Explicit Invitation

“There is evidence that only a third of people with a legal need seek any kind of third party advice.” (Solicitors Regulation Authority, June 2017, Consumers of legal services – levels of unmet legal need)

There are several well-known reasons

In a democracy, we have free access to legal advice. So there must be powerful reasons why the majority of society do not seek the help they need.

The SRA discusses other research that has found that 63% of people do not believe that professional legal advice is affordable for ordinary people. That is a majority!

Such a powerful belief like that is likely to stop them before they make any attempt to explore the possibility. So they go for online chatroom advice or just cross their fingers and DIY by guesswork.

Also, more than three-quarters (76% of the public) believe that the justice system is not ‘fair and transparent’. They expect to be tricked or let down by professionals who put 'the system' above client's interests. (Though, of course, quite what people image 'the system' to be will vary greatly!)

And worse, even more people (81%) find the justice system intimidating. So even if they make a start on searching for help, they are vulnerable to being put off.

The SRA concludes “It seems there is a difficulty for people accessing legal help, and, in parallel, for law firms attracting clients”.

A less-well-known reason

Another issue lies in psychological causes rather then economic or sociological areas.

The connection between these two difficulties (ie for clients and for firms) probably revolves around communication problems.

  • First-time clients have no experience in asking for help. They don't know the ropes. They are often already in an emotionally-charged state. They are cautious. Humans will do more to avoid a second loss than to regain the first loss – often by taking flight.

  • Professionals may have insufficient training about interaction with potential clients. And they have detailed codes of conduct about contact with the public to maintain ethical activity but may also cast a miasma over this area.

Extending the SRA's conclusion above, it seems that both groups need encouragement to venture forth.

Invitation: the missing step

Human beings are very territory-aware. We verbally invite people into our houses. We wait for an invitation before entering someone else's house.

We check the signs before entering a shop. We hesitate ahead of an office door. We are diffident on arrival at a party even if we've been formally invited. We are politely cautious about these things.

Similarly, our first time at a new dentist. Or a new barbers. Or even a new restaurant.

And especially, our first day at a new job!

The more hesitant we are, the more we feel we need to be invited. We become aware of what we could lose. We need the clear message to encourage us to take these risks.

Sometimes these potential losses are more imagined than real, but even so... It takes a lot of nerve or indifference to walk into a lawyer's reception without knowing what sort of welcome to expect.

Invitation in advertising

All marketing aims to encourage new clients to approach your firm when legal advice and action is relevant to them. Mot professional firms advertising (adverts, websites, leaflets, business cards, etc) show a telephone number and an address.

But very few show any invitation. The emotional tone is “Here's the info', it's up to you now”. It's not surprising that even well-pre-disposed – referred – potential clients are hesitant to get in touch.

But very few show any invitation. The emotional tone is “Here's the info', it's up to you now”. It's not surprising that even well-pre-disposed – referred – potential clients are hesitant to get in touch.

Old-style adverts used to include a cut-out coupon for reply – an obvious invitation. Direct mail (junk mail as we often call it) also ends with an explicit “Please call” or “Please reply”. Even party invites end with RSVP.

What Invitation means

So we are expecting hesitant clients in a nervous state to enter unfamiliar premises uninvited. Or even call by phone to make an appointment, uninvited. Or email... uninvited.

An easy step forward

Many law firms' websites claim to be friendly. But to omit an invitation is not only daunting and in a way discourteous, but also self-defeating!

To prevent people who desperately need your advice being stopped from reaching you in this way, a simple invitation will surely help.

This offer to lay-people should probably be even clearer than your usual communications.

The wording is critical. Just as the law relies on careful use of words, so does marketing.Your best invitation is to write as person-to-person as you can. Without knowing their name at that stage, you cannot get very personal – but you can be personable!

Going Carefully...

Adding a few pleasant words to a website takes only moments. Most explicit on your Contact Page, this invitation can run thematically through your website, your leaflet and your adverts.Website changes may be quick but this is not to be rushed at in a random sort of way.

  • Any additions must fit congruently with everything else. A few politenesses scattered around an intellectual treatise is more likely to produce disbelief than anything else.
  • The opportunity also allows new messages about other aspects of what clients want, and what the firms wants – to the possible benefit of both.
  • Redesigning this first stage of the 'first-enquiry to loyal-client pathway', there is much more you can do to show yourselves as available, welcoming and caring.

I'd like to invite you (explicitly!) to chat if you are too busy to concentrate on these details. Ask me to do it for you on 01983 614 795. Or email here

Downloadable version available here

PS - There are many, many more strategies for seeking and holding potential clients' attention.
Let's chat to solve your unusual question? Call 01983 614 795.

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