So you think running with the pack is going to get you business? Think again.

The two shining examples of running with the pack come from the pharma world (just look at all those ads with happy smiling faces…the only thing that differentiates the ad and product category is the demographic of the happy smiling face).

A short while back, I did some primary research into about 50 law firms in the metro NY area – each firm had about 60 attorneys.  Almost half the firms I looked at, had bought the exact same website template – or one so close that differentiation was essentially non-existent.  And that’s before I got to the messaging – which was almost identical. The graphics were equally ho-hum.

As many of you have figured out by now, I’m a crusader for customer-focused market research and marketing.  Almost all legal websites talk about what’s important to the law firm and NOT what’s important to the potential client. It’s all about features and the benefits are almost never there.  Well, chest-beating does wonders for the ego, but does it bring in business?  In this environment, it doesn’t.  With so many me-toos (and very cheap off-shore solutions knocking on your customers’ doors), the only way to differentiate yourself from a myriad of other lawyers and law firms is to do primary research – that’s right – ask your customers’ what they want in a lawyer or law firm.  Listen to their answers.  And only then, with a trusted marketing or PR resource, should you start your website, and other messaging.

Fashion falls into its own category however the same rules of differentiation apply. Why look like everyone else when you can make yourself and your brand just as memorable as the product you’re selling?

It’s such a simple solution that it’s a wonder no one does it.  Of course, the result will separate you from the pack. Which is what you want. Because when you stand out, business finds its way to your door. However, standing out like this takes courage.  Every single company that has used customer-focused market research (my methodology is called Rapid Development and the market research session itself is called OpenMind® has had remarkable results. From Fortune 500 clients  to startups to the sole practitioner – in every sector. From pharma companies, to nano-tech companies to a Rabbi (yes a Rabbi   Oh yes, attorneys and law firms as well.


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

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