The legal industry is considered a part of the "service industry." Law firms are categorized as "professional services." That seems to make sense since the word serve is used in many law firm mottos (ex. "We serve our clients.").
But is that label handicapping your ability to effectively market your practice and achieve the greatest amount of potential growth?
The Difference Between a Product and a Service
There are actually some legal differences between products and services, but those aren't really worth discussing here. What we need to understand is why you need to change your mindset on what you sell. We want to move you from selling a service to selling a product.
Services are nearly always intangible. You don't bring a service home from the store with you. Consulting is an example of a service. Since much of what an attorney does is consult with the client, it's natural that you see yourself as a service provider.
Products, on the other hand, tend to be tangible (even if in a digital format). There is a fixed relationship and process between the customer and the product. Everything about it is understood before the purchase. The customer is buying the product because of what it currently is in relation to their needs, whereas services are often diagnosing an unrealized need and providing the solution from there.
People buy products because they can more easily see what the problem is and how the product will fix it.
Turning Your Legal Services into "Products"
Your goal should be to make your service as easy to "sell" as any product. Right now, you probably spend most of your time selling the idea that you can fix the problem of the potential client. Well, most attorneys can do that, but few attorneys make it clear just how that is going to happen.
The easiest way to develop your "product" is by selling your processes. The best book on learning how to do this is Built to Sell by John Warrillow, but I will present some of the ideas here for you.
Think about the steps that you go through with any particular case. While every case may be different, there are common procedures that you follow leading up to the end result, whether that be a personal injury settlement or a complex estate plan or a judge's verdict. The journey to the result is already staged out for all attorneys. What you need to do is show to potential clients how you handle that fixed journey in a different way than other attorneys.
When you present to a client the 7-step plan on how you will provide them a positive outcome, you are selling to them a service as a product. It shouldn't resemble some kind of "custom solution." Instead, it should reflect the experience you have and the confidence you have in providing the optimal outcome for the client. You are selling the strength of your system, and your system is a product.
A product can be more easily sold by anyone in your office because they don't have to make it up as they go along. Your paralegal should be able to effectively present your 7-step plan just as easily as you. This plan doesn't have to contain legal advice. It just lays out what will happen when someone signs with your firm.
Think about how much more powerful your marketing would be if you sold your legal services as a product. You don't have to call it a product in your advertising, but you should treat it like one. Remember, it's your process that is the product. All you are doing is putting it down on paper and give it specific names. As an extra tip, giving the steps in the plan proprietary names will really set you apart. No one else will be selling anything like what you have available!
Additional Reading: Law Firm Marketing Lessons from The Grateful Dead