What is your law firm brand?

My hope is that the metaphor of a running shoe changes the way you think about your law firm's brand.

I'm a runner - I run not just for fun, but also to raise money for my favorite non-profits.

When a runner is ready to buy a pair of new running shoes, do you think it's the glitzy ad in the running magazine that sold them on the shoes?

Not by a long shot.

The glitzy ad will draw in the uninformed public or buyers who purchase products on impulse.

For the customer who is "in the know" - the customer who knows quality when she sees it and only buys quality - what sells her on the shoe was something very basic:

The shoe itself.

The services provided by a veterans lawyer are no different from the shoe the runner bought, at least when it comes to marketing.

The greatest tool to "market" or "sell" your legal skills are your legal skills themselves.

Said another way: your law firm brand is your legal skill.

You - your skills - are the greatest way to market and sell you.

Let me tell you something else about that shoe: it's existence was no accident.

It existed LONG before it appeared on the shelves of the store.

Before that elite runner knew about the quality of the shoe, it existed on the drawing boards of a Research & Development department.

It existed in the prototypes the manufacturer printed using a 3-D printer.

It existed in the beta versions first tested in the laboratories.

It never works the other way around. The shoe that sells - the one runners in the know want to buy - always comes second.

Making the product - or defining the service - always comes first. You simply cannot "sell" what does not exist.

Several times in the life of my law firm, I have applied that same approach.

Before my law firm brand existed, I designed it on whiteboards and notepads.

Some years ago, my law firm had outgrown the garage office where it started. I wanted to carve out a niche area within veteran’s law - everybody handles PTSD and TDIU. I wanted a veterans law firm brand of my own.

I picked several case types that were not yet on any attorney’s or firm’s radar, and tested.

I learned how to work the cases, efficiently.

I evaluated which had better margins, better effective to overhead hourly rate ratios. I tested my ideas on clients and cases in the laboratories of VA DRO (Decision Review Officer) Conferences, Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) hearings, Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) appeals, and consultation phone calls.

I honed and refined my image and my veterans law firm brand so discerning consumers would automatically recognize my quality and the uniqueness of my work and service.

I spent the time to build the law firm brand - and a service - that people in the know wanted to buy.

Now that I have built the veterans law firm brand, I can market and sell it.

How about you?

Have you designed your “shoe”, or are you still trying to market something that doesn't yet exist?