Competitor Research For Attorneys: Key Mistakes To Avoid

I've seen a lot of same-looking law firm websites and ads recently.

Let's take a look at the ads:

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Top three listings on Google for a search on "Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney."

Looks like bankruptcies cost only around $900 to file, and prospects can get free consultations. All three ads present the same ideas. Do you see the pattern?

Now let's take a look at a couple website examples, focusing specifically information:

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Here I have websites for two more bankruptcy lawyers—one in Schaumburg and one in Orland Park. Let's take a look at the wording.

In essence these two lawyers:

  • understand legal requirements
  • represent clients in court
  • file petitions in court, and
  • negotiate with creditors.

In addition, several other aspects of their practice pages look the same, including business hours, contact forms, value propositions, and other components.

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What Does It All Mean?

I see many examples of these sorts of similarities every day.

This brings us to the question: What does all that mean?

Knowing your competition is important… but not in the ways that you may be thinking.

It's not about copying your rivals.

I think that this concept is extremely misunderstood in the legal world.

The challenge lies in the fact that multiple law firms blindly copy each other without thinking about the consequences. There exists a mentality of "if everyone else is doing, they must be doing something right."

Do Not Make Assumptions about Your Competitions’ Strategies

Let me ask you a question: What if your competitors are wrong?

Think about it. What if their strategy is losing, not making, money for them?

Let's take these $900 bankruptcies I mentioned above. Suppose you know that bankruptcies cost around $1,800 to file and that your competitors are willing to slash the price to $900. Do you do the same even if you know that doing so will erode your profit margin?

Just because your competitor is doing something, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it also.

What Is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive Intelligence is about awareness. It is about being mindful of your market environment as well as your competition.

Specifically, it is about knowing all aspects of four key areas:

  • Pricing your services
  • Attracting clients
  • Servicing clients
  • Positioning your practice

How Can Competitive Intelligence Help Your Bottom Line?

Competitive Intelligence allows you to know where the competition and the market are going and enables you to make informed decisions about how to best react and adapt in this direction. Your decisions can go one of the following ways:

  • You can follow the market and competition, OR
  • You can do the opposite of what the market and competition are doing, OR
  • You can test and see whether or not the recent trend is effective

The choice is yours, like Earl Nightingale said, "You are in the driver's seat."

Choosing the third option gives you the freedom to test new ideas and see for yourself whether or not they make a positive impact on your practice’s bottom line.

Let's use the situation above as a simple example. If everyone else is playing the $900-bankruptcy card to attract new prospects, instead of hopping on the bandwagon you could test the results of doing the following:

  • Shedding light on the potential issues or traps they might fall into by opting for a $900 bankruptcy (the need for self service, the difficulty in actually qualifying for this price, etc.).
  • Educating your prospective clients on factors that are more important than price when hiring an attorney (the “you get what you pay for” argument, etc.).
  • Surveying your customers and offering what is most important to them. (short waiting times, direct access to an attorney, etc.).

Final Thoughts

At this time, you are probably aware of situations that you have personally experienced or seen others experience when following current trends doesn't work out as expected. The "bandwagon strategy" is not an ideal way to approach your business decisions.

Remember that awareness, which enables clear and independent decision making, is the key here.

What does Competitive Intelligence mean to you? Answer it in the comments section.