I attended a wedding in Vancouver last weekend and met a successful and seasoned dentist from Abilene named Dr. Christie Leedy. Being one of those rare people who actually likes going to the dentist, I didn't hesitate to engage her in conversation.
She said one of the most riveting phrases that I've heard in a long time, saying she heard it from a legendary dentist in her area:
Everyone is one tooth away from ugly.
After a good laugh, I knew I had to write about it. Every person reading this will go, "Whoa." And then look in a mirror.
So - what can lawyers learn from this? Unearthing and crafting messages that resonate with your buyers of legal services is difficult, which is why literally hundreds of law firms of all sizes sound eerily similar. Yet - law firm leaders still approve messaging and taglines that sound just like their competitors down the street or across the nation. Here are the typical scenarios:
- A competitor firm has a snappy new tagline, so your firm leaders want one, too. They sit around the executive committee table and hen-scratch contenders on their yellow pads.
- You are redoing your website and want a "theme" for it. So you look at what other firms have done and borrow their strategy and tagline because what they do is similar to what you do.
- You want to put a positioning stake in the ground, but anything that really could be uniquely YOU, feels too bold, too out-there for your lawyers. It feels "too memorable."
The reason the tooth message is so compelling is because it hits each of us between the eyes - we can actually picture ourselves toothless (horrifying!); seeing it drives you to schedule your next dental appointment.
Law firm, practice/industry team and lawyer messaging should compel your reader or listener to act - to move closer to you (phone you, email you, speak to you after you've given a presentation, tweet about you). If it's passive and unoriginal, they won't act - and that means you have invested a lot of time, energy and money creating something that isn't working.
Don't be afraid to be memorable (in a good way); it's the only way to turn heads away from your competitors to you.
And that will surely make you smile.