The key to success in any business is providing value.  And in today’s competitive legal market, any law firm that doesn’t know that is not talking to their clients.  Much less are they in tune with their marketplace.

If you think you are providing value to your clients, but haven’t asked them, how would you know?  John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing so accurately states in a post that value is “what the buyer says it is.”  He goes on to say that businesses need to “understand that one of their primary jobs is to increase value.”

How can lawyers do that?  Well, one way is to “stuff more features into your… services in an effort to make them seem better than what others have to offer.”  But even so Jantsch says businesses need to go further and “do the things that make your brand work more in the market…through tangible and intangible acts that allow you to build deeper relationships.”`

Jantsch suggests five ways to create more value:

  • Measure.  Determine what value you are providing clients already (yeah, the client can help here of course, but that means talking to them about value). You might find that either clients aren’t getting enough value, or that you are not charging enough;
  • Lead.  Be out front and offer ways to help clients more effectively with their business or personal issues.  Writing articles, making presentations, blogging, creating groups on social media sites are ways to show that leadership capability;
  • Teach.  The best kind of selling is education-based the selling.  Demonstrate how clients can do things well or avoid problem situations via CLE seminars or otherwise;
  • Inspire.  Here Jantsch is talking about how a great design (in marketing materials, websites, even invoices) can create value.  One might think that this suggestion is a bit fuzzy, and I would not disagree.  However, design could be a promise of value, and that is worth something; and
  • Listen.  Clearly listening to clients adds value.  That may seem pretty obvious, but “we rarely do it.” Yet, if you focus, avoid distractions (like your iPhone or Blackberry), look them in the eye and really listen, you will add tremendous value.

Be honest.  Other than producing a pretty darn good legal product, are you really adding greater value than your competitors?  In the long term, you’d better be!