Defining your ‘key differentiator’ in the crowded legal sector

Explore how to set your law firm apart from the competition.

To the untrained eye, all law firms look the same. Most people don’t have many dealings with lawyers, so they don’t know what to look for or where to start.

Often, they find themselves in a heightened state of emotion. They’re confused, angry, desperate for help and support. Facing a sea of identical websites, they may end up selecting the firm that’s local, or one they’ve heard of before, or the one who offers best value for money.

There are 153,616 practising solicitors in England and Wales. How do you guide customers towards your firm?

Finding your key differentiator

In marketing terms, your key differentiator is what makes you different to your rivals. We lightly touched on the topic in ‘How to build your online brand: the basics’, exploring how the Apple brand sets itself apart from other technology companies.

Differentiators aren’t just the reserve of big-name brands, though. You can just as easily apply the premise to the law profession as you can a global sportscar manufacturer or a countryside cafe.

Your key differentiator should be:
  • Unique – it’s all about standing out in a crowded, often similar space.
  • Authentic – play on the strengths that separate you from the pack, creating a differentiator that reflects your existing culture and values.
  • Demonstrable – always be able to prove the claims you make to establish trust and authority.
  • Valuable – your differentiator should focus on adding value to the lives of your customers and what matters to them.
  • Consistent – nurture and strengthen your differences by making sure they flow through everything from internal processes to external marketing.
  • Simple – don’t overcomplicate your differentiator; you want potential customers to ‘get it’ as quickly as possible.

How to differentiate from competitors

There are several ways you can make sure your uniqueness is brought to the front of people’s mind. It’s all in how you present yourself and who you represent.
  • Harness your experience, awards, and endorsements

Every legal professional’s experiences are unique. This makes it a valuable place to begin outlining your differences. Perhaps you’ve been around longer than competitors or you’re a start-up looking to revolutionise the legal world. It could be that you have a process in place that no other law firm has, which means the customer experience is easier or data is more secure. If you’re drawing a blank, think about what makes you proud about where you work.

Highlight this experience to demonstrate why you’re the best company to take on someone’s case, based on how you’ve helped others in a similar position. As part of this, you might even want to consider introducing an element of inclusivity or exclusivity to further define yourself against rivals.

So, if your main competitors brand themselves as bespoke, exclusive firms for a particular type of client; the Harrods of the legal sector, then you might want to take the Amazon approach, offering services for everyone (or vice versa).

Use any awards, endorsements, and testimonials to communicate how rich your experience is. These commendations act as ‘social proof’, a powerful psychological tactic that helps convert clients.
  • Tell your story

As customers, we love a good narrative. We like the fact that Amazon started out in a garage. We enjoy the fact that before becoming a multi-million-pound empire, BrewDog was turned down by the investors on Dragon’s Den. These tales add character and personality to otherwise faceless businesses.

Not every business will have an origin story quite like these, but most will have a good reason for being in business in the first place. For instance, the founder had a personal story to drove them to grow the business, or you created your firm to help and support those who can’t help themselves. Whatever it is, that’s the story you want to tell.

The trick is to take your beginnings, tying them to your experience since then to form a coherent ‘journey’ that humanises (and, crucially, differentiates) your firm. If you’re struggling to tell your story, then consider your firm’s purpose: what are you here for, what drives you, what do you want to achieve for customers?
  • Showcase a specialism

As a professional, you already have your legal specialism – but you’ll want drill-down deeper if you can. Ask what you do, or can do, within your area of law that no-one else is offering. Then tell the world about it.  

Love him or loathe him, top solicitor Nick Freeman is an excellent real-world example of successful specialising. His wheelhouse is motoring law. But his specialisation is helping people beat speeding charges. And not just any people, but celebrities. While he takes on other cases, this is how he differentiates himself from competitors. If you’re a celebrity who’s been caught over the limit, he’s your go-to legal expert.

When focusing on your specialism, lead with your passions and interests, or driven by data that shows particular services attract more clients to your firm. It bolsters your authenticity and authority within your field.
  • Deploy targeted marketing

Identify the core demographic you want to attract. It could be a target market you’re already successful with or see you pivoting to a whole new base for different services you offer. Build a profile: Who are they? Where are they? How old are they? How much do they earn?

Online tools and platforms like The Law Superstore make it easy to target find, segment, and target leads through location and service requirements. Your marketing budget, as a result, is spent more efficiently and effectively on the people you most want to reach.

Your target market should complement your case specialism. Look for niche or unexpected ways to do this, creatively setting yourself apart, e.g., representing well-off pensioners facing drunk-driving charges when going clockwise around the M25. Well, if no-one else is doing it…

Stand out from the crowd

Your key differentiator is a critical part of your business growth strategy.

With a clear ‘how, who, why, where’, define what makes you unique. Thread that narrative through your online presence and marketing output, capitalising on your firm’s strengths to create an advantage that isn’t solely competing on cost.

When you partner with The Law Superstore, we’ll help you cultivate a client-base that matches your business goals through verified, tailored lead generation.