Halloween is the time of trick-or-treating, spooky decorations, and adorable little children dressed up as monsters. How could it get any better? Enter the Switch Witch. If you don’t have young children, you may have missed this new addition to the pantheon of generous immortals who visit children in the middle of the night. The Switch Witch takes their hard earned Halloween candy and replaces it with a toy. Parents everywhere, or at least in the affluent neighborhoods of American cities, celebrate at this awesome excuse to take candy away from their children without complaints!! In addition to being a boon for parents, the concept of a Switch Witch offers a great lesson about marketing. Sometimes people think that marketing is about fluff; but it doesn’t have to be. The ideas (or services) that get great word-of-mouth are the ones that provide real value. Like suitcases with wheels, fax machines, and smart phones, the Switch Witch provides an excellent solution to a pervasive dilemma and, consequently, is spreading like wild fire. The same applies to your law practice. Providing unique, unexpected or innovative solutions to your client’s problems will have more clients flocking to your door. Maybe this seems obvious. “We are lawyers,” you might say, “That is why people come to us, to solve their problems.” Maybe you do, but the law is not exactly known as an innovative profession. Here are three areas to look at when considering how to become more solution focused:
(1) Learn about your clients’ problems before they come to you. Without having a deep understanding of your clients’ challenges it is almost impossible to develop the best solutions. Sounds obvious, but most lawyers don’t do this. If you have a client who is a cement manufacturer, learn more about the industry by buying a subscription to Global Cement Magazine. Regardless of the type of law you practice, get curious and ask your clients more questions about their values, priorities and challenges beyond the immediate issue you are addressing at that moment. You may also consider not charging them for time spent on such an inquiry. After all, this is business development.
(2) Unpredictable legal costs are a problem for large corporations as well as for individual clients. Anything innovative you can do to create more certainty in this area will thrill and delight your clients. It may not be as sexy as coming up with an innovative legal argument, but the clients will certainly appreciate it, and talk you up accordingly.
(3) In the business world, lawyers are notorious for focusing on problems rather than identifying solutions. The upside is that saying “yes” and coming up with creative solutions is sufficiently rare in the legal community that, although this seems unremarkable to those who do it naturally, it actually is a great way to stand out.
Lawyers often think of marketing as superficial and trivial, something that they should probably do but that feels beneath them. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to market yourself, and some of them are directly in line with what you want to be doing: providing great service for your clients. Maybe you know lots of great lawyers and don’t see a way to stand out. Just keep thinking about it. That is what you would do if you were searching for a solution for a client. In retrospect, all good ideas seem obvious. Now, the Switch Witch seems like a self-evident solution; but it took many decades for her to be invented. Keep an open mind, brainstorm, talk with friends; that flash of inspiration could get here any day.