How attorneys can use awards to market themselves
Marketing your legal practice is difficult. Ethics considerations carefully proscribe how, when and why you can talk about your track record, services and skills, and many attorneys still believe word of mouth is the only tasteful way to draw in new clients. But marketing your practice is still important.
In each of the 11 iterations of FindLaw’s U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey, the results have shown that consumers assume one attorney is generally as qualified as another and have difficulty distinguishing between what they see as very comparable legal options.
One way to separate yourself from your peers in the eyes of consumers is to highlight awards you’ve won. This can be done in a fitting, professional way, which may alleviate the concerns some attorneys have about bragging or coming across as tacky. Here are some ways to do just that:
1. Mention your awards in a sensible and natural place
Your website should reflect who you are, not just what you do, and your award is part of your professional profile. You should feel free to mention your award in the biography portion of your website, and if the cost of licensing the award’s image or logo is within your means, display the award’s graphic on your homepage. Do limit it to one or two mentions, though. There is such a thing as overkill, and search engine algorithms don’t like it when they find duplicative copy.
2. Keep it real on social media
Absolutely post about the awards you’ve won on LinkedIn (that’s what the site is there for), but keep it straightforward to avoid the appearance of humblebragging. “I’m proud to be among the recipients of this award” is fine, “Humbled and shocked that I, of all people, won this!” has a false ring to it. It’s probably best to keep the number of times you mention it small (say, two or three) and reasonably close to the date the award was given. If you add the mention of your award to your biography on a social media platform (“Attorney A, Award XYZ Winner”) don’t leave it in forever. Social media copy needs to be current and fresh, so you’ll want to take it the award mention out a year or so, at the very latest.
3. Tell your alumni publications
There’s no need to hire a publicist. Let your alumni publications know (and include a photo if you can, because they will often use it) and contact the round-up column for your local paper’s business section. That’s enough of a splash and will go a long way toward making sure your award is known among relevant audiences (i.e. people who may want to hire you).
4. Hone in on Super Lawyers or Rising Stars notoriety
Not everyone receives these third-party validations, so while all the above certainly apply, you can go a little further if you are a selectee. For example, you can mention that no more than 5 percent of lawyers in a region are Super Lawyers selectees. This enhances the cachet of your recognition. Super Lawyers also offers the opportunity for branded marketing materials like an online badge, the use of which is a subtle way to make sure your membership in this limited group is known.
5. Consider a non-verbal approach
A common theme among the points we’ve discussed is timeliness—making verbal mention of an award is sensible and appropriate if you do so in reasonably close proximity to winning the award. Notice that we said “verbal.” It’s entirely appropriate to tactfully display some type of physical commemoration of the award long after you’ve won it. That could be a small plaque you display on the wall behind you when you have video conferences or a token you keep on your office desk. After all, this isn’t any different from what people do with their diplomas.
There’s nothing wrong with making it known that you’ve won an award. In fact, it’s a good idea, because it helps you stand apart from other firms and get the attention of potential new clients. As long as you keep your mention of it brief, audience- and platform-appropriate, and timely, there should be nothing holding you back.