I recently read an article between two local St. Louis attorneys who were participating in a panel discussion about marketing within the legal profession. The two attorneys “let barbs fly” at this discussion. Obviously these two attorneys don’t have the same values when it comes to their businesses. Which frankly is a good thing. If your mission, vision and values is the same as your competitors, then someone isn’t being honest with themselves.
That being said, the exchange begs the question: what is gained by criticizing your competitor in a public forum, or in your marketing? Personally I see that nothing is gained from it. All you have done is legitimized and acknowledged your competition. In fact, you have created a comparison between you and your competition that may not have been happening in the first place. So now every time you hear a marketing message from this one attorney, you think of the competing firm. I frankly have never needed the services of either firm. But I personally have now developed a link between the two firms. The link is not a positive link.
When it comes to professional services, such as hiring a marketing firm, PR firm or a lawyer, often times people think: “I am going to talk to three companies before we make a decision.” Yet in all reality, people rarely interview multiple firms unless it is an RFQ process. They make their decision based on referrals, word of mouth and firm reputation. So the key is to maintain a positive reputation.
In the end, it is best when you take the high road and not fall victim to barbs flying and trashing your competitor. That will result in a brand that people respect and want to emulate. There is now something tangible that the brand stands for, because you end up with something that people can connect with. Because you have positive, forward-thinking messages.
Can people connect with throwing barbs? Absolutely, the comment in the article from another presumed attorney was that the expected turmoil was worth the price of admission for this specific conference. It’s drama and entertainment, but not necessarily good marketing.
In the end customers don’t care about you, they care about what they get out of the experience of working with you. So before you fall into a trap of a competitor bad mouthing you, remember: it is easier to take the high road.
So focus on what you want to deliver not what you don’t.