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Shape Up! Practice Management Tips for 2010

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I recently inquired of a lawyer friend what value he believes he brings to his clients. He responded, “I’ve developed a rather unique method for helping retailers maintain compliance with credit card security standards.”

Now, while that may sound fascinating (he does assert that it’s unique), it has little to do with effectively explaining how one adds value. It is more an explanation of a methodology, and lawyers love the methodologies they employ. They dote on them, refine them, capture them in templates and standard documents, and eventually they offer them to clients on password-protected Web sites. But, ultimately, few clients really want to hear about all of that.

Clients are tuned in to radio station WIFM: “What’s In It For Me.” They especially want to know how what you do might favorably affect their business—and their bottom line. Most important to the client is the improvement of his or her condition. Therefore, in everything you use to communicate, you need to phrase what you do in terms of enhanced outcomes.

The solution. Ask yourself this: “Once I walk away, how is this client better off?” In the case of my friend, he could have been far more effective had he said, “I protect retail merchants from fines of up to $500,000, liability, and losing their credit and debit card privileges as a result of consumer fraud, which has more than doubled in the past two years.”

Many lawyers can immediately improve their marketing results by changing the focus of their conversations from “how” they practice to “what” the client receives.

About the Author

Patrick J. McKenna consults on competitive strategy and conducts special programs for new managing partners.