Friday, April 22, 2005

Don't Scream from the Middle of the Herd!

Seth Godin reminds us that we are always outnumbered if we choose to compete in a crowded market (shouting from the middle of the herd).

In legal marketing the easiest example of the herd mentality (and therefore the unheard) is in advertising. Corporate law firm advertising sheepskin of choice is the ‘tombstone’ ad. Buy space in a publication, fill it with a dozen or more boxes, and inside each of those boxes display everyone else’s logo with big numbers and accomplishments. Talk about creating a platform for getting lost in the crowd! If your advertisement looks like everyone else’s, then how are you demonstrating your “better?”

Over at Beyond Bullet Points, Cliff Atkinson is my choice for guru of ‘storytelling’, and a great place to start if you want to be different; For two reasons:

One. If you try to fit in by looking like everyone else, you do. And what is ‘normal’ is boring, repetitive, and definitely NOT compelling in any way.

Two. Your story IS different and compelling if you take the time to tell it. It is true that if you take the risk of telling your own story you WILL turn off part of your target audience. And that’s OK because the part of your target audience that will be a good match for your firm WILL get turned on by what you say.

Brobeck, the now defunct star law firm of the internet boom, ran a series of television ads on national networks that were described as “pretty far out there”. The ads were definitely a turn-off to a large part of the ‘old school’ corporate counsels at large corporations. But to the younger faster crowd (which was the client Brobeck could serve the best) the advertisements were a hit.

It takes a strong constitution to be different in marketing. And yet, different works. Remember your message is not that you as an individual are weird and different, but that your clients can expect a difference in their experience with you.

Don’t scream from the middle of the herd!

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