Fellow lawyer Arnie Herz of Legal Sanity believes that one of the reasons for lawyer discontent is the failure to address what “sparks us and supports our curiosity, interests and desires.” I agree wholeheartedly that lawyers, as people, need to get in touch with what inspires them and moves them to action. It’s why I’m a big proponent of lawyers and law firms creating vision and mission statements.
We all do our best work when we’re inspired – when we’ve tapped into our passions. Overlooking our desires and passions is a huge loss, both for ourselves and for our clients. Arnie’s post laments the view that “there’s little to no self in healthy business relationships; it’s all about the consumers we serve and what we can do to help them thrive.” I do agree with Arnie that, “Business relationships are as much about valuing and evincing our selves as they are about reaching and helping others.” The starting point must be the self. It all begins with what motivates us and gets us excited about working. But in order to be successful as business people, it’s necessary to translate our passion into something that helps others.
Where I disagree with Arnie is his discussion of the elevator pitch. Arnie takes issue with the notion that the elevator pitch needs to be about the client, rather than about you and what you care about. Your business, in order to be enjoyable as well as successful and sustainable, needs to honor the self and be an expression of the self. But your marketing materials – the way you convey your self to others, including your elevator pitch, must be geared toward your clients.
The ‘self’ – whether that’s the firm or the individual lawyer – determines what kinds of clients to target, the markets within which to compete, the kinds of services to provide, and the manner in which you’re going to provide them. However, once you’ve identified those items, and aligned them with your self and your passion, you’ve got to get the clients in the door. In order to get the clients to walk in the door, the marketing needs to focus first on the client – on their needs and how you can solve their problems.
Unfortunately, many lawyers forget this when crafting their marketing message – they focus too much on their credentials, their skills, and on the things they deem to be important, rather than focusing on the client’s problems and the client’s needs. To get the clients, you’ve got to get them interested in what you’re offering. You’ve got to get them to see themselves in your message.
It’s basic human nature that everyone is always interested in themselves and their own welfare first. That means your marketing needs to focus on the client – particularly when you’re networking, introducing yourself, or explaining what it is that you do. The client’s first concern will always be, “what’s in it for me?”
The bottom line: align your practice with your passions, desires, interest and curiosity. But then craft your message in such a way that it addresses the client first.
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Allison C. Shields
Legal Ease Consulting, Inc
Creating Productive, Profitable and Enjoyable Law Practices
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