Four key questions to ask about your competitors | International network of lawyers


We all know the adorable adage that lawyers don’t want to be first, but they want to be first to be second.

Having worked in the legal field for nearly 18 years, I have seen this come true time and time again. And therefore, that means we can learn a lot from what our competitors are doing. This does not mean that we copy them, in any way, but it does mean that when we ask ourselves difficult questions in the context of our own business or business activities, we can improve our own goals and focus.

I’ve found that there are four key questions we can ask about our competitors that help us identify what we could strengthen in our own businesses and businesses, and when we review them regularly, we can keep a length ahead of the market. Note that when looking at your competitors, you want to limit this to 3-5 of them, as these are in-depth tactics.

When you look at your competitors, ask yourself, how innovative are they? Are they launching new practice areas or segments within the same key practice areas you have in order to meet current needs? Is this a company that only offers alternative rates? Do they work particularly collaboratively? Have they hired other types of professionals internally to meet the expanding legal market and client needs? Take a really critical look at how these companies innovate and how that applies to your business plans and goals. How is their innovation different from yours? I’m going to put a STRONG caveat here and say that innovation for innovation’s sake is useless – when a company innovates it MUST be because it’s going to benefit the customer and/or the company – by example, you have changed the management of the internal processes of the company, which has resulted in greater efficiency and the company is now more profitable. This is a BIG innovation. But if the company says “WE MUST BE INNOVATIVE!!” and the only answer to that is ‘because everyone is innovating’ or ‘Our customers expect us to be’ so you use that as a buzzword and not because there are practical changes to be made for the better.

This one is twofold – the first piece involves more of the inner side of things. Join industry groups and chat with your fellow professionals to see what types of questions they ask and answer. It should be a top-down activity encouraged throughout the firm, from your administrative professionals to your marketing employees to your lawyers and paralegals. Everyone should network with their competitive counterparts to see what challenges and solutions they face. Yes, it feels like giving the farm, but honestly, it’s not. No one will trade events to share the dark and deep secrets of the company. I promise. But we all benefit from sharing best practices on what works and what doesn’t (plus, who doesn’t like a little commiseration now and then with people who really understand what you’re complaining about?). I have an email conversation with the managers of other networks and even though we never share anything proprietary, it benefits us all to discuss things we’ve come across before, to share non-proprietary things so no one don’t reinvent the wheel, and identify mutual bumps in the road.

The second element is external – look at the content they produce. What issues are your competitors critically examining with their content and how are they responding to the questions around them? It’s not just about developing content for your business, it’s about seeing trends that are well catered for by your competitors. Go beyond that and look at HOW they deal with these critical issues – it’s not just about the content after all, but the type of content. Do they offer long articles? Customer alerts? Lots of webinars? Are they regularly quoted in specialized publications? How do they get there? Have they launched a podcast or video series? Also, simply posting that content doesn’t matter if it doesn’t get results – if they post that content, but then don’t get noticed and convert those thought leadership pieces into new customers. or more work for existing customers, then it’s Ineffective. While it’s hard to get real data on this from outside the company, you can get an idea over time if you pay attention to company trends.

There are companies doing really innovative and smart things. Look to your own competitors for technology, training, web information portals, webinars and more that are offered as an added benefit to their legal services. Look both at what companies are offering that you as a company should also extend to your customers and potential customers, but also at what your competitors are lacking that you could fill.

Sometimes you may feel like you have to come to terms with what it is. And often you do. But not always. So how do you find the “next best thing”? Two ways. First, don’t get stuck in the legal industry. Often we can be navel-gazing and because we want to be first to second, we only want to do what another law firm has already done. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can look at what has worked in other industries as well. Remember that the legal industry is also a service industry. See what accounting or banking firms have done for their clients and what could be transposed to the law. HSBC did an absolutely brilliant campaign a few years ago coupled with air travel, which would have been amazing for our organization if we had their budget (alas, we don’t). But sometimes you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for if you look sideways rather than down.

Second, ask your customers what they need. Often we want to come to our customers with the answers. And this is absolutely essential when your client asks you about a legal issue. But when you talk to them about how they want information delivered and what’s going on in their business right now, those are the areas they’re experts in. You don’t have to know everything about everything – have casual, candid (non-billable) conversations with your customers and you might learn the best way to communicate with them or a new problem you can solve, and therefore , what you can do for potential new customers.

Quality, service, talented lawyers – these are not differentiators. These are your tickets to the show. Look at your competitors and ask yourself if, if you took out the company name, you would be able to guess who it was just from their slogan or other collateral material. Identify which of your competitors, if any, is truly different and memorable. How do they achieve this in your market? How can you show your customers and potential customers that you are both different from them AND entirely unique?

Two other things competitors can offer you is insight into the technology they use that you might be interested in and interested in – depending on the technology, you may need to have insider knowledge of what the company uses to get this information, but some of their outward-facing technological efforts can also be informative. As I mentioned with content, your competitors can also be a great source of trending information. Are they showing increased attention to associates? Side hires? Flashy recruitment programs? New brand initiatives? What are their website trends? Not all of these trends are things you necessarily have to adopt or get into, but they’re all relevant in terms of informing the decisions you’ll want to make as a business about where to go. where you want to focus. in these same areas.

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