Table of Contents of this Article:
- 1 Writing a Practice Description – How Do You Make It Sound Interesting?
- 1.1 The ‘What’s–In-It-For-Me?’ Quotient Is About Zero
- 1.2 Give It To Me Now!
- 1.3 Get Into The Buyer’s Head
- 1.4 As You Start To Write
- 1.5 Make Every Word Count
- 1.6 Pass The “Who Really Cares?” Test
- 1.7 Flag Key Points
- 1.8 Checklist
- 1.9 There Must Be A Better Way
- 1.10 Set Out Your Selling proposition
- 1.11 Break Free
- 1.12 Notes
Writing a Practice Description – How Do You Make It Sound Interesting?
Writing a Practice description is as easy as swimming across the Amazon River. Once you know how to swim fast and can dodge little fish with really sharp teeth, you are almost home and dry. Almost. It is the same with writing a practice description – lots of little fish with really sharp teeth devouring blandness that will make your journey somewhat uncomfortable.
The ‘What’s–In-It-For-Me?’ Quotient Is About Zero
So many law firm web sites squander critical opportunities to connect with potential new clients. Why? Because their descriptives appear hard to read, they are usually generic and interchangeable with many other firms, they deliver an abundance of useless information and they are functionally firm-centered. The ‘What’s–In-It-For-Me?’ quotient registers almost zero. Somewhere in the law firm someone forgot that the visitor is searching for a solution to their own unique problem.
Give It To Me Now!
Sitting in front of a monitor, the reader scans. He has little patience for long drawn out narrative. He wants the facts. He wants easy-read. He wants to feel that what is said is relevant to him. He wants you to respect his time.
Here are a few basic ideas on how to avoid little fish with really sharp teeth.
Get Into The Buyer’s Head
The challenge is to overcome the Three Deadly Questions:
- So what?
- Who cares?
- What’s in it for me?
As You Start To Write
Think about some of the marketing basics you have mastered and apply them to this task:
- Know your audience, their needs, wants, expectations, peeves, business home runs and business mine fields before you even start drafting
- Concentrate on readability – this is your ‘show’ promotion piece
- Ensure clarity of expression devoid of legalese
- Distill the message about the practice to the key message points
- Break up text in your layout to make it easier to read and easier to recognize the key message point in each paragraph
- Include facts about experience (matters handled etc.) as reason for the reader to believe
- Have short, fact based bios of those lawyers involved in the practice
- Talk directly to the reader – pretend that the person is seated in front of you and you are telling them about your firm or practice group.
Make Every Word Count
Stop writing practice descriptions. Stop thinking in functional service terms. Write your draft on regular lined paper or in a blank Word document on your computer. The reason for this is to have each word stand on its own merit and not be supported by an environment that could disguise blandness, generalities, superfluous descriptive or functional descriptive. Avoid long, wordy sentences. Find something unique and interesting as your key focus point to stand out from all the other similar practices.
Pass The “Who Really Cares?” Test
Why? Because you are advertising your capabilities to potential buyers. This is not a legal brief. Don’t slow your reader down in knee deep stuffy language. Try and avoid the long, single sentence paragraph – don’t list every imaginable combination of your skill in order to attract all possible business. There is no generic client, so don’t throw out generic offerings.
Flag Key Points
Headlines draw prospects into the text. But first reorganize the list of services offered and prioritize those that are really important (and profitable). Then rank the points of importance to the prospect within each.
Here is a checklist that should help focus your thinking on what you want the description to accomplish and what you want to say.
- What do we sell?
- What is the essence of the problem we solve or opportunity we can bring to life?
- Who are we addressing?
- Who specifically buys what we sell?
- Who is the decision maker?
- Who influences the decision?
What’s In It For Me?:
- What do they really care about?
There Must Be A Better Way
The challenge is to stand out as something special to your prospects without sounding hackneyed. Don’t insult the reader by defaulting to these awful statements:
- Client centered
- Commitment to clients
- Dedicated to assisting his/her clients
- Full range of services
- Extensive experience
- Cost-effective service
- Regular basis
- Dedicated to achieving favorable results
Set Out Your Selling proposition
Challenge everything you write down using the following questions any prospect will ask out loud when they read your material:
- So What?
- Who Cares?
- What’s In It For Me?
Define your main selling proposition:
- Why should the reader hire your firm? (Stay away from the generic, unsupportable claims)
- Why should the reader want to talk with your practice group, rather than any other?
Points of difference:
- What do you offer /how do you offer it that no one else does?
- How would an objective, knowledgeable individual, detached from your firm, answer the question “Why should I retain this firm?” (Reduced hourly rate should not be used as a key differentiator.)
- Check words, sentences, paragraphs, sub headings and style used to emphasize and key message
It takes more than a clear mind. It takes courage and the willingness to bring your Partners into this exercise. Sometimes, a little help from the outside tips the scales. 
1. Paul Kuttner is a Principal of innovate! Marketing, and has been providing marketing, coaching and business development support to law firms in Canada and the USA for 15 years.