The Platform

(post 3 of 4)

So, now we’ve discussed the reason for a messaging platform and why it’s important to think about who you and the clients you’d like to serve, and here we are at the platform.  I’m glad you stuck with it, and I hope you’ll begin seeing how this can be helpful in your practice.

The biggest reason this will help is that the simple act of doing it will get you thinking deeply about who you are, what you do and who you’d like to serve.  That exercise alone is worth it.

But it will be helpful in two other ways.

First, when you’re looking to write marketing messages, whether a direct pitch for your services or as a gentle call to action at the end of a useful piece of content, the platform will make for a ready reference/reminder and make the writing faster and more comfortable.

Second, it will serve as a check when you are considering writing something outside of your target audience.  You might have something to say about the legal side of a hot public policy issue but reviewing your platform will remind you that what you’re thinking about doing doesn’t A serve your core business.  Not that you shouldn’t do it, but you’ll know you’re spending resources on something other than your core.  You choose.

Elements of the Platform

There are a few core elements necessary to have a useful platform, and there are a few more that are interchangeable, or not, depending upon the nature of the business.  We’re talking about law practice here, so let’s focus on the key elements that could be helpful to a small to mid-sized firm.

I’ll give a brief description of each and then reprint a portion of that section of my platform.

  1. A brief description of the service, and your unique selling proposition (that is, what makes you different).  You might specialize in employment law on the employer side, and your unique selling proposition is that you come from a family of entrepreneurs who understand the trials and tribulations of managing people.  Here’s mine: I’m a legal project manager. I have decades of inside and outside transactional and litigation experience, which allows me to manage all legal issues for my clients, either myself or through my network of experts.
  2. The value provided by the service.  What problem does this solve for the client? How does it make the client’s life better?  In the case of the management side employment lawyer, it relieves the client of the burden of analyzing complex human issues overlain by complex statutory, regulatory and decisional law.  If the client is the business owner, it allows her to hand off the problem, with knowledge it will be handled properly so that she can focus on her business-and getting to her home, family, hobbies, etc. Here’s mine:  Business owners often face multiple, diverse legal issues.  One day it is employment, the next a commercial contract, lawsuit threats, intellectual property challenges, etc.  Hiring specific specialists for each problem saps the time/energy of the executive, requires enormous time to understand the issues framed by the specialists, and will almost certainly lead to billing creep.  An experienced legal manager frees you from juggling a confusing list of law vendors and controls legal spend
  3. Description of your specific target market.  Whom do you want to serve?  And who makes the buying decision?  The owner, the CEO?  The CFO/Controller?  Perhaps you want to help the small to midsized company that doesn’t have the resources to hire a lawyer full time.  Or maybe the General Counsel of a multi-national company.  Think it through.  Do you like working directly with the owner, who can make decisions on the spot?  Or do you prefer the challenge of helping executives in large organizations maneuver through the challenges of siloed bureaucracy?  Here’s mine: The owner or CEO of a small to mid-sized business without enough consistent legal work to warrant the expense of a full time general counsel; or one who does but sees the advantage of contracting out on a retainer basis where the retainer comes in less than the salary/benefits and other obligations of a full-time employee. 
  4. How the service works. This isn’t obvious anymore.  At least not to me.  You can certainly take the traditional approach and quote an hourly rate and let the client know you’ll bill him at the end of the month, but clients are hungry for alternatives today.  Flat fee, subscription, blended and success fees should all be at least considered.  So think this through ahead of time and include it in your platform.  Here’s mine.  An hourly rate is my last choice, but sometimes there is simply no other way to approach a problem.  I prefer to have an honest conversation with the client to see how best I can serve them, but because of the type of client I prefer to serve, a subscription or flat fee tends to work best for both of us. Why?  Because I want to encourage my clients to reach out to me without worrying about getting a bill.
  5. Statements that overcome anticipated objections.  I almost eliminated this section because it could be interpreted as “salsey.”  I don’t intend it to be, but at the end of the day, you need to be prepared to respond to questions or concerns about your fees. Thinking about common objections will help you meet them and educate the client.  Here are two of mine:

Objection:  “This will just add another layer of legal expense over what I’m already paying.”

Response:       “Some prospective clients think my service just adds another layer of legal expense over what they’d be paying for legal representation, but this is just not the case.  With this office, your work will be done by me.  And if I can’t do it, I’ll hire someone who can from my national network.  I’ll oversee the work to make sure it’s done right, on time and on budget.  You will only pay for my time if I am adding measurable value to the project, and you will know this up front, not after     the fact.”

Objection: “I can get the work done at a lower price.”

         Response:  “You can try to cherry pick and supervise lawyers on an as-needed basis, at a lower rate, and take your chances that it will work out.  And, If price is all that concerns you then go for it.  I am not, and never want to be, the low-cost provider.  We weren’t      meant to work together.”

         6.  A complete list of features and benefits of working with you.  Make a list of the    features (licensed in x number of states, Bar association accolades) and benefits (peace of mind, lets them focus on their business, etc.)  Here’s mine:

  • ready access to an experienced lawyer
  • knows your business
  • known budget
  • lighten your load and make your workday easier
  • business minded and available to chat about non-legal issues                                                          

         7.  Tagline ideas-try to come up with a few words or phrases that describe you.

 Here are some of mine: 

  • Focus. Action
  • The experience to guide you
  • Strategic legal counsel for business
  • The experience to manage lawyers
  • The expertise to handle your legal risk

          8.  Testimonials- This can be tricky with clients, but if they are willing, then use two to three lines that speak to character traits you’d like your prospective clients to know about you. The shorter the testimonial, the more likely it is to be read. 

I hope you found this helpful.

The next and final post in this series, creating an editorial calendar, and publishing, is next.

See you there!


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Dave

Dave has been a practicing lawyer for 30+ years, from inside and general counsel, to private practice.
He maintains a private practice as well as a consulting and copywriting business focused on professional services firms.
You can also find him on LinkedIn

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