I finished Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow last week. I highly recommend it. The basic theory underlying the book is that marketing as we know it is dead. To be successful today, you need to distinguish yourself from the herd with a remarkable product. That remarkable product is what Mr. Godin refers to as a purple cow, a product or service that makes people stop and take notice (because wouldn’t you stop and look at a purple cow). Once people notice, you hope they are the right people, and they spread the word about how great your product is and why everyone should have it, leading to increased sales of your product.
How do you start down the purple cow path? Mr. Godin tells readers to look around his or her industry to find a purple cow. ‘Make a list of all the remarkable products in your industry…Model the behavior.’ So I looked around the legal profession, and what did I find? I found a lot of brown cows.
Go on any 5 law firm websites and tell me if you can tell them apart. Pictures of lawyers wearing suits, law books, and gavels? Check. Lawyer bios with impressive credentials? Check. List of practice areas? Check. Contact info? Check. They all look and sound alike. How can a potential client tell which firm is right for them when they all say the same thing? The truth is they can’t. If you read Above the Law’s Inside Straight post earlier this month, The Delusion of Personal Exceptionalism, you’ll find a great example of how clients can’t tell one firm from another (no matter how special you think you are). http://abovethelaw.com/2011/08/inside-straight-the-delusion-of-personal-exceptionalism/
Seemingly, everyone in the legal profession is marketing the same services in the same way to the same people. In a world where standing out from the herd matters, where are the purple cows in the legal profession? Is the Virtual Law Practice a purple cow? Unbundled legal services and super-niche practices seem to be hot right now. How about alternative billing? On-line legal service providers like Legal Zoom or Rocket Lawyer are making the news. Are they purple? To be honest, I don’t know. Are we that traditional (and boring) a profession that not billing by the hour makes us remarkable? Maybe.
Is there truly anything going on in the legal profession today that would make a person stop and say “Wow! Now that’s different.”?
Who wants their law firm to be another brown cow? I don’t. I know my firm, IP in focus, offers something unique, different and valuable to those seeking intellectual property services. I guess it’s up to me to get that message out to my potential clients in such a way that distinguishes me from the masses, catches on, and goes viral. I want to be a purple cow!