The Power of Narrative: Law Firms Need to Find Theirs To Differentiate Themselves

by JD Supra Perspectives
Contact

...if banks can tell powerful stories, anyone can do it.

Unless you’ve been living off the grid, you know that TED talks are wildly popular. One reason why is that each 20-minute presentation is carefully scripted. The audience moves with the speaker’s experience through a narrative arc. They are shown, not told, about a perspective they may not have considered before, by a speaker who shares personal information, about a topic the audience may have previously had little interest in. Yet they listen enraptured, eager to learn more.

While many use the terms story and narrative interchangeably, stories focus on the teller. Narratives, however, focus on the audience and build an emotional connection.

Narratives focus on the audience and build an emotional connection... 

I recently heard Wells Fargo CMO Jamie Moldafsky speak about one of the bank’s new ads. In the minute-long piece (saga-length by TV standards), two women are shown learning sign language in order to communicate with a child they are about to adopt. The spot ends with the women meeting a young girl, signing, “We are going to be your new mommies.” The female voiceover says, “Everyone works hard for a reason. Working together, we can help you prepare financially for when two becomes three."

As an adoptive parent, I teared up. The stats are overwhelming, too—1.6 million views on YouTube.

Law firm messaging has the same potential for building relationships.

Professional service firms have been slow to move to the power of narrative. Many still focus on firm history and a recitation of corporate values, which, while laudable, are likely shared by many firms. You can only mention client service and business-oriented results so many times. But if banks can tell powerful stories, anyone can do it.

A law firm narrative needs to be a compelling tale of how and why the firm serves its clients as it does, and the gratification the firm draws from the privilege of working with its clients.

A law firm narrative needs to be a compelling tale of how and why the firm serves its clients as it does, and the gratification the firm draws from the privilege of working with its clients. Show your clients that their needs are your first priority and you have the special skills to help them, both on a rational and emotional level.

Consider this collateral:

“Our law firm has unparalleled depth in biosciences and pharma. More than 40% of our lawyers have advanced degrees in the biosciences. We’ve filed 2,500 patents to date. We live and breathe Hatch-Waxman. Our practice sweeps the globe.”

The message that comes across is “We are good. In fact, we are damn good. You should be grateful if you get the opportunity to hire us. In fact, you probably can’t afford us.”

Now, this:

“Jenny Chin, then age 8, had an aggressive form of bone cancer that was difficult to treat. Our client, Amazing Bio Startup, developed a drug it believed could help patients like Jenny. We patented the compound, prevailed on re-examination of the patent, shepherded the drug through FDA trials and review as quickly as possible, and wrote the licensing agreements that led to its development and sale. Today, thanks to Amazing Bio Startup, Jenny is in the fourth grade and argues with her parents about cello lessons. That’s what patent law means to us.”

Again, the focus is on the end consumer—Jenny and her family. It's all about the law firm’s client and the client’s achievements. It goes beyond corporate values and touches an emotional chord.

Find those stories in your practice and in your firm. You’ve likely won water rights for farmers, protected the interests of struggling mom-and-pop franchisees, or helped a tech company prosper, which added millions of dollars to the local economy and whose employees support the local public school, where they were able to rehab a play yard. Show how your client’s financial success allowed it to make a donation to the local community foundation. These are feel-good stories that create market impact.

It’s not simple. It takes work. You can’t just throw a baby or a Golden Retriever into your content. But your narrative is there. You just need to unearth it.

*

[Susan Kostal is an editor, writer, business development strategist and media coach with over 25 years experience on the beat and in the C-suite.  Susan's expertise includes legal industry trends, marketing, communications, and public relations.]

Sure, but who knows you're good?

 
"JD Supra builds a readership I wouldn't normally reach..."
Adam Stock
-Adam Stock, CMO Allen Matkins

 

Written by:

JD Supra Perspectives
Contact
more
less

JD Supra Perspectives on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.
Feedback? Tell us what you think of the new jdsupra.com!