There's an old business-school truism that being first to market does not necessarily guarantee success. For an example, look no further than MySpace, which once carved out a commanding position in the social-media space, then saw its value drop to practically zero when Facebook picked up the ball and ran with it.
If you want to be a successful lawyer, you don't have to reinvent the wheel and come up with a marketing strategy no one has thought of before; just take a look at what other, more successful lawyers are doing and imitate it!
There's Nothing Wrong with Implementing Good Business Practices
At this point, you may be asking: isn't it unethical to copy the marketing and advertising strategies of my more successful competitors? Well, of course, it is, if you simply copy the content and “look” of their promotional materials, inserting your name for theirs. Not only is this unethical, but it's also illegal. But there's no ethical rule that says you can't imitate the general thrust of your competitor's marketing strategy; in fact, this is how capitalism works.
Let's take another example. Sometime over the past ten years, there was a “first” lawyer (or more likely a law firm) that decided to build an official presence on Facebook, soliciting “likes” from potential clients and building a brand presence on the web. This may have been slightly out of the ordinary at the time since corporate Facebook pages are usually the province of packaged-good manufacturers and well-known entertainment brands like Disney—but one adventurous partner was willing to leap.
Let's say the strategy was successful. The competitors of this law firm must have noticed at some point that it was getting a surprising number of referrals via Facebook, and they decided to build official Facebook pages of their own. Is this “stealing” the idea of law firm #1? Not a chance, unless you consider it “stealing” when you decide to open a Facebook account because you see that it has improved your friend's social life. The fact is that every marketing and advertising strategy worth the investment needs a handful of innovators; other companies can be equally successful simply by following their lead.