Personal Branding for Lawyers: Part 2
By: Lori Schmeltzer
Last month we discussed what a personal brand is, why you need it, and how to identify what brand you want to build for yourself. Once you have determined what your “brand” is you have to begin to build the brand. Building a brand takes two major components 1) consistency and 2) repetition. Since building a brand is about marketing yourself and your services to generate business (as the ultimate goal), your message must be consistent and clear, over and over again, across many different modes of communication.
Branding is different from advertising, but can be a crucial piece of any advertising campaign. Branding is not just about finding a catchy slogan, or making a killer commercial. Branding requires a consistent image/message being repeated over and over again, in a multitude of ways. Branding can be how you dress, the car you drive, the way your office is decorated, the topics you talk about, your personal philosophies, your hobbies and interests, etc. You should be presenting the same consistent brand whether the person sees you in a television commercial, on a billboard, meets with you in your office, looks at your website or Facebook profile, or runs into you at a social event or even grocery shopping.
Good examples of how attorney branding can influence attracting different clientele is the Sam Bernstein Law Firm, and Geoffrey Fieger. Both advertise for personal injury cases, both are in Michigan (southeast), both advertise on television. However, the brand each presents could not be more opposite. Geoffrey Fieger presents a tough, winning, will go to trial image (come here, we will fight for you), while the Sam Bernstein Law Firm presents a more family, soft, and compassionate image (come here, we will take care of you). While each firm is seeking clients with similar legal problems, and using the same advertising platforms, they are obtaining vastly different clientele and cases because of their brand.
Building an online presence is a key component to building a personal brand, as so many clients are either finding lawyers online, or going online to check out a lawyer after someone has referred them before calling.
Step 1: Website. Your website should reflect your personal brand and provide relevant information on topics related to your field of practice, but also be appealing to the eye. Colors, layouts, and overall them/look should not be ignored. While content is important, the look of the page, the overall feeling it gives the reader is what captures a person’s interest to continue reading the content. Your website should be designed in look to appeal to your target audience and ideal client. Think of what they would like to look at. Colors can play a large role in evoking a certain feeling to the reader, so think of the type of colors that would appeal to your ideal client, not you personally.
Step 2: Professional profiles. There are many social media platforms as well as legal industry platforms that you can build profiles on. The point is to be consistent and repetitive. Facebook, LinkeIn, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, AVVO, ZeekBeek (SBM Member directory), GTLA Directory, (or if you are Geoffrey Fieger – Wikipedia) etc. are all places to build professional profiles, which should present a consistent image and message. The more places a potential client can find you (or accidentally run into you) the better (i.e. repetition).
Step 3: Advertise. Advertising options are plentiful and which ones you chose to utilize depend on the audience you are targeting. The phone book and print ads are great for some demographics, while other demographics will never see your ad because that is not where they are looking. It is important to consider who your ideal client is, and where they are spending their time, how they go about finding service providers to determine the best place to invest your time and money.
Regardless of what stage of building your online and advertising brand, you should remain consistent in presenting your brand in all interactions you have with the public. Keep this in mind when you are in court, meeting with a client in your office, at social events, posting on social media or running every day errands. Being a consistent and reliable presence, with a specific image and message will convey to people that you are the lawyer they can turn to when they have that type of problem arise.
About the author: Lori B. Schmeltzer is the owner of Schmeltzer Law PLLC, Traverse City's Divorce Lawyer ( www.tcdivorcelawyer.com). Lori practices primarily in family law, and has a background in business management and marketing, having earned her Bachelor's in Business Administration from Walsh College in Troy before attending law school. She has served on the GTLA board for two years, is an active member and committee chair with the Traverse Area Chamber of Commerce's FUSE (formerly Young Professionals) organization, and is a proud Rotarian.