Daniel Barnett, a reader in the U.K. let me know about a 28-page eBook he co-authored entitled “Top Ten Marketing Mistakes Lawyers Make…and What You Should Be Doing Instead,” which he offers as a free download on his web site.

Barnett is a practicing employment barrister in the UK. After perusing the document, I realized that the stuff in this is better than what I see from a lot of consultants in this country who refer to themselves as gurus or experts. Although many of his examples relate to employment issues, the fact is that the mistakes are just as applicable to most areas of practice.

This is not fluff stuff, so I decided after reading the eBook that I couldn’t do it justice in a single post. Better than that, his writing style is quite good and it is an easy read (even with some British jargon). Here are his first three mistakes:

Mistake #1 – You don’t know who you’re talking to…
By this he means that you need to identify your market and “ideal client.” He thinks lawyers are not sure where to “channel their energies”, and thus are “afraid that defining a niche and doing what they enjoy most will cost them too much passing trade.”

“You will always have the most energy and deliver the best results when you’re being true to yourself and doing something you actually enjoy,” according to Barrett.

So, what should you do?

  • Define your ideal clients;
  • Identify those businesses and organizations that match that profile;
  • Look at your prospects from their perspective (not yours), and ask how you can meet their expectations after analyzing your strengths and weaknesses; and
  • Evaluate what your competitors are doing, and what you could do better (examples mentioned by some firms in a sidebar include: free initial consultations, being more accessible, providing additional benefits not offered by other firms, and putting yourself in the position of the client by asking what would be there wish if they had a “magic wand”).

Mistake #2 – You’re only talking about yourself…
The primary mistake here is the mixing of client needs with “what you do and who you are”. Put another way, the failure to separate features from benefits. His example of a fictitious firm’s web content (expressed both ways) helps understand the difference.

The point is to work on your unique selling proposition (USP) that highlights benefits, not features. You should talk about your firm/practice in language such as “we help clients…(citing benefits/goals that clients would value).”

Mistake #3 – You’re doing too many things at once…
Trying to do too many things at the same time is a mistake. Barrett suggests focusing on one strategy at a time. The idea is to “select the one strategy that emerges as most likely to build existing client relationships and establish new ones.”

He is not saying that other strategies such as a web site make over, or launching a client newsletter, or joining several networking organizations, or starting an advertising campaign are not other good strategies. His point is to focus now on the strategy most likely to produce the results mentioned in the paragraph above. The mistake is to try doing “everything at the same time.”

Next Time: More Mistakes. If you can’t wait and want to continue reading his eBook, click here.