I sat between two solicitors at a breakfast meeting a while ago. “What do you do?”, I asked.
“I’m with the LARGEST legal practice in town”, said one, in a proud tone. The other said, looking down his nose at an even more acute angle, “I’m with the OLDEST legal firm in town”.
Rather than leave it at that, I pressed them to tell me why they would expect people to do business with them on the basis of what they’d said.
They looked at me as if I was asking a stupid question.
I wanted to know why I would want an impersonal service from a large legal practice, or out of date advice from an old one.
Time passes, and the economy goes into meltdown. I’m at another networking event, and three solicitors tell me they’re worried about whether they’ll shortly have jobs. I heard today that two of them have left their firms because there isn’t enough business to support them.
Before I go further, I haven’t got anything against the legal trade. Many other business people, in various sectors, are as complacent as my original breakfast companions. My concerns are as true for people in my own sector as for any other.
Returning to the two people alongside me at breakfast, I remember that they couldn’t answer these questions:
- If potential customers don’t care about “oldest” and “biggest” (and, believe me, many of them won’t), how will you differentiate yourselves from your competitors in terms that your customers will respond to?
- How will you ensure that you acquire the customers that are profitable for you, and help you to grow your business in the way that you need, while avoiding the acquisition of customers that won’t be profitable?
The answers to those questions are provided by smart marketing. It’s what I do for clients. You can read more thoughts on creating a good value proposition here.
At the time, I thought it was crucial that they could answer those questions. Now that we’re in recession, I believe they have an even greater need to smarten up their marketing efforts. Perhaps I didn’t ask such a stupid question of them after all.
What do you think?