After reading that headline you’re probably asking yourself why attorneys need a unique selling proposition—or maybe even wondering what it is. A unique selling proposition or USP is a short, simple statement that tells how your product or service differs from the competition. The USP is the foundation of a company’s marketing plan and conveys to customers the uniqueness of a product and how it addresses their needs better than all the rest:
“Breakfast of champions.”
“The quicker picker-upper.”
“When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
You probably recognize these USPs and the products they represent. For attorneys, a USP should answer the question, “Why should I hire you instead of the guy down the street?” Telling potential clients that you offer great service is not enough, because most lawyers do offer good service. If you can’t differentiate yourself from all the other lawyers in town, your marketing efforts will be a waste of time and money.
In October at the Great Legal Marketing Summit, Ben Glass, the pioneer of legal marketing, told his enthusiastic audience, “Your message [USP] should resonate with the person you believe is your perfect client.” To help you define your USP, ask yourself, what would the world miss if your company didn’t exist?
Factors You Cannot Change
How do you develop a USP? First, consider the obstacles in your path. You cannot choose the judge or change the facts in a case. You cannot rewrite statutes or alter a client’s record of previous convictions. The prosecutor is paid to frustrate your client’s goal of avoiding consequences—and you cannot change that either. Accepting all of these factors as undeniable truth, here’s what you can do.
You can present an argument that highlights the facts that best support your client. You can alter your argument to suit each individual judge. You can cite case law that interprets or limits statutes to the benefit of the client. You can suppress evidence of previous convictions. You can objectively negotiate with prosecutors.
Now, how to “sell” that to a potential client.
Reject the Common Approach
If you’ve just started a practice, or are new to traffic defense, taking a tour of other attorneys’ websites will be helpful in creating your own USP—and will help pinpoint what not to do. You will find that traffic attorneys in Virginia highlight the following: Dire warnings about the life-long consequences of traffic offenses, years of experience handling such cases, and free consultations (call today!). Some firms clearly state their USP on their web page; some don’t have one at all (and you’ll notice that the sites start to look alike as you click from one to another).
One small firm goes above and beyond the basics, clearly establishing itself as an expert in traffic law defense:
The practice is dedicated to traffic offenses only.
The lawyers are published authors in their area of expertise; one is a former prosecutor.
They provide an extensive list of jurisdictions in which they practice.
They offer Spanish-speaking services.
They have taught traffic law to other lawyers and developed CLE course material.
Define Your USP
The key to defining your own USP is to determine the benefits of hiring you, and then educating potential clients about those benefits. You must know what clients really want and need from you and what motivates them to hire you. Your best source of information? Your current clients. Ask them why they chose you, would they recommend you, and why. Most importantly, ask them how you can improve your service.
Tailor your USP to highlight your education, experience, and strengths. If you were recognized for working at a bake sale, the effect will be minimal, if any, while recognition for training the local police department how to conduct field sobriety tests will brand your practice with a unique selling proposition. Also consider law enforcement experience and memberships in various legal organizations.
Brainstorm and write a list of ideas. Turn the list into a well-crafted paragraph, then edit that paragraph to one short statement. The end result should be a pledge to your potential clients, and you must be able to fulfill any promise you make. Once you’ve developed your USP, use it in all your marketing materials—whether printed or online. Good luck, and always remember that CAMS is here to help you develop a successful marketing campaign.