One of the areas attorneys struggle with is building their “Personal Brand Equity” within the marketplace. I define Personal Brand Equity (PBE) as “The value premium that an attorney generates from their perception in the marketplace.” The question you may need to ask yourself is, “What is the current perception of me or my practice in the legal marketplace?” Is it positive, negative or non-existent? Whatever the case, here are five solid tactics that will help you build, repair or grow your current brand in whatever marketplace or practice area you’re in.
PBE #1: Google yourself and take action NOW!
If you’re like me, you’ve Googled yourself at some point. Today, it’s more important than ever to do this as potential buyers and referral sources are using Google as a direct resource of information to learn about you. There may be negative comments or ratings that you’re unaware of. In addition, you may find that there’s nothing about you, which means you don’t exist (to buyers of legal services). On the other hand, type in the name of an attorney whose name you hear regularly. There may be 5-10 pages of search results that clearly demonstrate how this attorney has built his or her PBE.
It has never been more important to make sure your blog post, court wins, published articles and events are all available for the world to see. Failure to load these branding moments into your website or blog are missed opportunities you can’t easily get back.
PBE #2: Go grassroots-it’s time to network.
While it’s of critical importance to build your online presence, don’t forget to shake hands and kiss some babies along the way. I can’t think of too many highly branded rainmaker attorneys that have skipped this step. Take an hour and research events, conferences and groups that will allow you to meet prospective clients and high-level referral sources. But that’s not all! Once you’ve met them, you need to grab a coffee or lunch, too, on a one-on-one level. Building rapport and finding synergies to refer and work together is a major component of successful brand building.
Try to set a goal for yourself to meet a few solid players each month that will enjoy spreading your name around and talking you up. Think about your favorite restaurant, store or medical practitioner; you probably go out of your way to tell people about how happy you are with them. It’s even possible no one has asked you! Just remember, no one wins the race by sitting at a desk.
PBE #3: Seriously, that’s your website!
Why do you dress up for work each day? Why not just show up in flip-flops and a tank top? That’s exactly what people think about you when they see your terribly outdated and poorly constructed website. Maybe it used to be an afterthought, but today it’s critical to how you’re viewed in the marketplace. Don’t think for a minute that buyers of legal services aren’t reviewing your website or bio before calling–or maybe NOT calling.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to redo or update your current platform. Holding off on this one investment may be costing you money as potential clients exit the site to move on to other possible options. The three main reasons people leave your website are website speed, lack of quality information and poor “calls to action.” It’s important to recognize that it’s not about how YOU use a website, rather it’s how your prospective clients, existing clients and potential laterals do.
PBE#4: Get connected, stay connected and add value whenever possible.
You might agree that competition and price pressures in the legal space have never been more severe. My father practiced in the 1980s and ‘90s and never had to worry about these things, whereas you should be losing a little sleep over it. That being said, there are so many ways to connect and add value for people in your network, you just have to pay attention and take action.
Three things to focus on are your blog, creating social media posts and maintaining a strong newsletter. These “touch points” can be critical to maintaining your existing base of contacts, clients and potential clients well into the future. For example, a well-executed post on LinkedIn or Facebook can trigger likes, shares and positive comment that elevate your PBE. The key is to stay top of mind with your network and within the marketplace as a whole. Being visible and providing quality content will prove to worth its weight in gold as the referrals and repeat business continue to stream in.
PBE#5: The wild card is…NICHE!
While this is a subject I’ve written on before entitled, Specialization The good, bad and the very good, published on January 17 2017, it needs to be summarized here. When the market thinks about the best criminal attorney, aviation attorney or SEC attorney, who comes to mind? I’m sure you can rattle off a name in at least one of these three areas. The reason is because they’ve won more cases, written more about their area or spoken on their subject more than anyone else.
While the time might not be right for you to have such a definitive focus, it’s something worth working towards. It may be hard to believe, but it took me about five years working with attorneys to finally specialize within your space. Before that, I had experience working in over 40 different industries. The key for me was identifying needs in a marketplace that wasn’t being fulfilled properly. The key before taking the plunge was to gain knowledge and experience while also identifying the opportunity for growth. Once lawyers and law firms became over 50% of my business, it became very clear to me that specialization made sense.
Take the time to review your client base, industries served and what the trends are to determine if it’s time to really focus on one thing. Once you’ve decided your niche, review points 1-4 above to take aggressive action to build your PBE.
As you continue your journey as a successful attorney, remember that you don’t have to do this alone. There are resources for everything today from software to administrative help to marketing experts (like me!) that can take the non-legal work off your hands. It may be the best investment you can make in your future as things continue to become more challenging.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for advice or consultation if your PBE isn’t where you’d like it to be.