In our last article, we discussed the importance of developing a unique and compelling position in order to effectively implement an IP public relations campaign.
Leveraging our formula – [what is your business] + [key differentiator(s) (that is true and you can prove)] – we also determined that you are an IP law firm. That’s pretty straightforward. Now, we are going to examine key differentiators. We must do this within the context of your firm, keeping in mind that we are looking to leverage the differentiators that the audience will find compelling. As we examine key differentiators, following are some questions that should help you:
Is your firm a patent application machine?
Is the firm, or any of its attorneys, considered thought leaders within a community or industry?
Are your billings or profits driven by higher order services like proactive patent litigation?
Are your billings or profits derived more from defensive prosecution of patentability and validity challenges?
Are you considered strategic counselors by your clients, or more of an arms and legs provider?
Are there specializations that you have with regard to types of industries – IT, finance, biotech, biomed, etc.?
Are your services considered to be the least costly or premium priced?
Does your firm offer clients access to higher-order, unique, custom developed services like IP analyses or tools?
Is your firm better at working with established companies or entrepreneurs?
Once you have compiled your key differentiators, begin to honestly examine if these are truly differentiators or table stakes. What do we mean by a table stake? In poker, it is the minimum bet required in order to play a given game. It’s the same for your industry. Eliminate all of the differentiators you have listed that the majority of other IP law firms provide. Be brutally honest. This last bit is critical – make sure that your differentiators are real, and provable. That should narrow down your list to three or four key differentiators.
Is there a trend that you can easily determine? It very likely has to do with the types of clients you work with, or want to represent. This can be size of company or the industry they address.
Additionally, your differentiators could be a unique process you leverage in conjunction with insights only a few firms can provide through unique tools Because your firm does not exist in a bubble it’s critical that we examine what competitors’ positioning and messaging is being projected in the marketplace. We must examine what competitors are saying – providing context for marketing messages you are building for your firm. Before we do that, I would like to note that there are comprehensive law firms that have sizeable IP departments. You may or may not care about their business. Based on their messaging, it is clear that they don’t strongly differentiate themselves from an IP perspective.
So, we examined the top IP law firms’ messages. Frankly, what we found is a bit shocking. Following are real world examples:
- A leading global intellectual property (IP) law firm practicing in the areas of patent law, intellectual property and commercial litigation
- One of the largest IP law firms in the world
- One of the largest law firms in the United States focused exclusively on intellectual property law
- An Intellectual Property Law Firm. Exclusively
- One of the world’s premier intellectual property and litigation firms
- One of the nation’s largest and most productive full-service intellectual property law firms
- An elite international IP firm
Are you beginning to see a pattern? Frankly, from a marketer’s standpoint, this exercise was painful. We could have listed 15 more examples, but didn’t have the stomach. They all say the same thing:
- We are an IP law firm
- We are big
This is truly important to grasp. There is no way that a prospective client to any of these firms, can immediately understand the differentiators. They do not speak to any particular kind of client or industry. They do not communicate any special capabilities. Some clients want big. They find comfort in large firms to provide expertise in IP law, and to help them navigate international issues. However, if everyone appears to position themselves as a large and or international IP law firm – how is a prospective client, investor or employee expected to understand what makes one of these firms special?That is too much work for a target audience. This means that any one of these firms, as well as small or mid-sized IP law firms, have a huge opportunity to take additional mindshare and ultimately market share.
In our next article, we will put the final pieces in place and see if we can help you understand how to generate your firm’s positioning and associated messaging.
Author: Edward Schauweker