Tell us if you’ve met this guy before: John Smith is a personal injury attorney who handles car accident cases, slip-and-fall claims, and wrongful death cases. He has years of experience and has been named a Super Lawyer. He also offers free initial consultations.
Does this describe every personal injury lawyer you know? If you were a potential client, trying to interview at least three attorneys (as Forbes recommends), would you contact John Smith based on this description on his website? Or would you keep clicking down the search results until you find an attorney who stands out?
The sharp competition among law firm websites makes it essential for attorneys to separate themselves from the pack. This is where you need to put your marketing cap on and think about what really makes you different from your competitors. In marketing, we call this your “unique value proposition,” or UVP.
What Is a Unique Value Proposition (UVP)?
Your unique value proposition should be a clear, concise, and convincing pitch for why potential clients need you versus the next guy. It should:
- Recognize the problem potential clients are facing. For many people facing legal issues, they may not realize the full impact of the situation they’re in. You can begin establishing your value by showing sympathy for the client’s situation while at the same time pointing out additional aspects they may not be considering.
For example, in a car accident claim, many people are thinking about immediate problems such as getting their vehicle back and paying current bills. In your UVP, you can plant the seed that there is much more involved in calculating compensation for a personal injury claim.
- Explain how you can solve the problem. People who have never needed a lawyer may have no idea what you would do to resolve their case. They could have visions of dramatic courtroom scenes, or they may be skeptical about hiring someone to fill out paperwork that they feel they could do on their own. Your UVP should give them a peek behind the curtain.
Tell them how you can alleviate immediate concerns and work toward an ultimate resolution in ways that they couldn’t. For example, in a car accident case, you may point out that you can help get creditors off their backs by sending notice of a pending claim. And you’ll want to highlight all the legwork you do that goes into building a successful case: reports from accident reconstruction professionals, consultations with medical experts, interviews with witnesses, etc.
- Show them why they should choose you over your competitors. This is the part that makes your firm unique. Think about what potential clients want and need in an attorney: experience, honesty, compassion, affordability, responsiveness, a history of success, etc. In what areas do you shine? And what details (or proof elements) can you share to back up your claims?
For example, it’s not enough to say your “level of experience” makes you stand out. How many years have you been practicing? How many cases have you handled? Are you board-certified? What are some of your greatest case results? A potential client is more likely to remember an attorney with 30 years of experience and 3,000 cases under his/her belt than one who is simply described as “experienced.”
The challenge of writing your UVP is that people only spend about 10 seconds on a webpage before deciding whether to move on. So your unique value proposition needs to grab their attention right off the bat. It should start with a strong headline, include a short but pointed description, and hit readers with quick bullet points that highlight what you bring to the table.
Your UVP should also be clear from the moment potential clients land on your site. It should hold a prominent position (“above the fold”) on your homepage, and it should be incorporated at the start of content on other top-level landing pages.
Need Ideas for Developing Your UVP?
Developing a UVP requires a real analysis of how your firm goes above and beyond for clients. For some firms, elements of a unique value proposition may be obvious. For others, it can take some soul searching. Here are some questions to get you brainstorming about how your firm is unique:
- How are you more qualified than your competitors? Did you used to work for the “other side” (as an insurance defense attorney or a criminal prosecutor, for example)? If you are board-certified, what does that mean for people who don’t know? How many cases have you handled, or how many people have you helped?
- How do you show clients that you care? Do you travel to meet with them wherever is most convenient? Do you keep their medical appointments on your firm’s calendar? Do you follow up even after the case is done to see how they’re doing?
- Are you more responsive than a typical attorney? Can you promise to return calls or emails within 12 hours, 24 hours, or the same day? Do you talk to clients on weekends or after hours? Do you give clients your personal cellphone number?
- Is your office different from what a client might expect? Do you have an open-door policy, so clients can walk in and talk as long as your door is open? Does your staff remember clients’ names and ask how they are feeling when they come in? Do you keep photos of the people you have helped to remind you of the good work you do?
- Do you have a personal motivating factor for the area of law you practice in? If you’re a personal injury attorney, was a friend or family member injured in an accident? If you’re a family law attorney, have you gone through a divorce or supported family members and friends through difficult child custody battles?
As you develop your UVP, you may identify ideas that you have been planning to implement but haven’t yet. Now is a good time to take action, make those changes, and show how your firm stands out!