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October 26, 2023 5 minutes to read ∙ 1200 words

If You Are Not Memorable, Don’t Expect to Be Remembered

Stephen E. Seckler

In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is failing. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible —Seth Godin

I don’t collect artwork. Aside from the expense, I like things I can easily share with other people . . . like memes.

And since I joined the ProVisors business network in 2019, I’ve been collecting (and sharing) taglines.

A good tagline is a great way to quickly differentiate yourself and make yourself memorable.

Here are a few examples that have resonated with me in the last several years:

  • Taking Aspiring Americans from Visa Application to Pledge of Allegiance —Saja Raoof, an immigration lawyer
  • I Bring Death and Taxes to Life —Jennifer Taddeo, a trusts and estates lawyer
  • The Reconstructionist (Helping People Get Out from Under Debilitating Debt) —Theda Page, a bankruptcy attorney
  • You Go to Court to Make a Point. You Go to Mediation to Make a Deal. —Michael Bunim, a mediator
  • Hurt? Can’t Work? Call Me —Tanusha Thuraisingam, an SSDI attorney
  • If It Is Healthcare, I Care —Edward Cyran, a healthcare lawyer
  • Do You Want a Patent That Hangs Up on the Wall or a Patent That Stands Up in Court? —Steven Evans, a patent litigator

While not everyone’s business lends itself to a good tagline, and while having a good tagline is not essential to your marketing success, a good tagline can increase the likelihood that you will stay top of mind.

And staying top of mind is the name of the game in marketing your law practice.

Given the Nature of Legal Services, Being Memorable over Time Is Essential

One of the great pieces of wisdom that I have gotten from ProVisors is the importance of choosing your lane. There are many trusted advisors in ProVisors (lawyers and otherwise) who provide similar services. It is, therefore, very important to define yourself in a way that differentiates you from the competition.

At the same time, you want to be remembered when an opportunity arises.

While people may see their dentist twice a year for a cleaning, they may only reach out for legal advice once every few years (for example, when buying a house, drafting a will, seeking recovery for personal injury, etc.).

Similarly, a business may only need a lawyer when seeking bank financing, negotiating a lease, drafting an employee handbook, or negotiating a consulting agreement. And it may be hard to know when that need will arise.

Therefore, you want to be memorable over time. If you keep your message simple, make it unforgettable, and reinforce it through marketing and business development (i.e., relationship building), you will greatly increase the chances that a potential client or referral source will think of you when the opportunity comes along.

In your marketing, think long and hard about how you want to be known. Perhaps you are a litigator who handles commercial disputes, real estate disputes, personal injury, and a host of other things that may come in the door.

But if you don’t choose your lane, will you really be remembered? You don’t have to limit yourself to one type of work for one kind of client. But if you list five types of work for six types of clients (because you don’t want to miss out on anything), paradoxically, you will muddle your message.

Less is more in marketing. You can’t be known for everything. Come up with a message that clearly defines your lane at networking functions, in one-on-one conversations, or when you produce content about your practice area. You can always take a case that falls outside of your lane. But focusing your message is how you will stand out from the pack.

Other Ways to Differentiate Yourself and Be Memorable

Taglines are often based on a niche, and sometimes they can set you apart. If I encounter someone who is injured and might qualify for SSDI benefits, I immediately think of Tanusha Thuraisingham (see tagline above).

I have a client who serves as an outside general counsel to the restaurant industry. Her clients are award-winning chefs and restauranteurs who are trying to add additional locations.

But intangible qualities can also make you memorable. Perhaps you have a good sense of humor. Maybe you are a real connector (that would be me—I love connecting people in my network, and I like to think of myself as a coach who uses humor to make a point, although not everyone appreciates my stupid dad jokes).

I know an accountant, Dave McLaren, who always shows up in a bowtie. I know a patent lawyer, Tony Laurentano, who calls his networking group “Fun Club.” He held a ProVisors meeting with a “summer fun” theme, and attendees showed up in beach attire.

The differentiator might also be a personal interest of yours.

Do you do standup comedy? Play in a cover band? Volunteer for a dog rescue organization? Collect wine? Hold a leadership role in your church or synagogue? Like to host social gatherings?

Do you like old cars? Baseball?

The differentiator might also be your style as a lawyer.

Are you a collaborator? A tough negotiator? A take-no-prisoners litigator?

Do you have a background or training that separates you from other lawyers? A military background? A family that was in the restaurant business when you were growing up (the client I mentioned above who represents restaurants grew up waiting tables, her father was a chef, and her husband operates a high-end take-out restaurant).

Maybe you had a prior career as a software engineer, as a social worker, as a CPA, or owned your own business after college.

Do you have a strong “why?”

I know a lawyer who enjoys probate litigation because there was a lot of conflict in her family over an estate when she was in high school.

I’m an attorney coach who enjoys working with lawyers because I’m a lawyer myself and I think like a lawyer (and through coaching and therapy, I’ve learned to shut off that part of my personality in order to grow my business).

Authenticity and Consistency Are Key

There are many ways to make yourself memorable. Differentiating yourself from other lawyers who do what you do is a good starting point. In doing so, don’t forget to be authentic. Choose a niche that you enjoy. Pursue personal interests you like. If you are the kind of person who sends birthday cards, pays condolence calls, or likes to share cartoons, do that. In terms of style, just be you! Everyone else is taken.

And don’t forget to keep it up over time. It may be 15 minutes or 15 years before someone may need your services or hear of someone who needs your services.

Even the most memorable lawyer will be forgotten if she doesn’t keep showing up. Stay the course.

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Stephen E. Seckler

Counsel to Counsel

Stephen E. Seckler, Esq. ([email protected]), is president of Seckler Attorney Coaching. He is an award-winning coach who helps lawyers looking to build more satisfying careers. As Counsel to Counsel, he has coached hundreds of attorneys through career transitions and helped hundreds of lawyers to grow their income and become better leaders. You can listen to his podcast Counsel to Counsel wherever you get your podcasts or follow the link on his website.

Published in GPSolo eReport, Volume 13, Number 3, October 2023. © 2023 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association or the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.