The Top 25 Law Marketing Cliches to Avoid.
As a whole, lawyers are very literal, often too literal for good marketing. As a result, many firms simply opt for the obvious icons that represent the general concept of “Law,” just like most of their closest competitors. The logical rationale seems to be, “Well, if everyone else is doing it this way, it must be right.” But that’s wrong.
Your marketing should set you apart, help you stand above the crowd. And doing exactly what they do buries you in the anonymous middle. Sure it’s safe, but “safe” doesn’t help generate revenue.
That is, if your website home page shows a skyline or column, you’ve immediately convinced everyone who sees it that (1) your firm is mediocre, and (2) there’s nothing worth reading inside. If you want to claim to be a high-end, A-tier firm, then you must look like it, and a photo of a handshake, map, or pen resting on a document won’t cut it. No exceptions, unless you’re, say, Wachtell or Cravath.
So here they are, the 25 most typical and tedious clichés law firms use (and what they actually convey to the average reader):
The fact that you immediately recognized all or most of these, and perhaps laughed embarrassingly at a few, proves that these images have lost their impact. So, if you’re using any of these in your marketing materials, from website or blog to print ads or brochures, stop immediately.
Either change your tag line to “Average skills. Average price.TM” or, preferably, come up with something that really sets you apart. Create something else, something great. Something that helps you stand out in a way that generates real revenue. If you can’t do it, hire someone who can. But it must be done, it’s important.
Figure out who you really are, then build your marketing around that.
The City Skyline cliche that nearly half of law firm websites showed on their home pages is gradually fading, in favor of the new overused meme — Smiling Lawyers.
This isn’t to say that photos of your lawyers can’t be used effectively to illustrate a distinct message (see e.g. HedrickGardner.com, where the photos are used strategically to convey the firm’s toughness and trial skills). Rather, if you’re simply rotating photos of cheery lawyers who work at your firm (i.e. photo of Sally Smith next to the name of her practice group and office), then you’re not really saying anything at all. It’s easy, it’s lazy, and suggests that someone in the process, either the marketing committee, branding firm, and/or web developer is simply phoning it in.
You can do better. We must do better.
June 8, 2011 update:
This irreverent post got a lot of traffic, mentions, retweets, and forwards.My favorite mention, not surprisingly, comes from Non-Sequiters, in Above the Law:
“Here are 25 legal marketing cliches to avoid… or only use ironically, amiright?”
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