So you have decided to "go solo," and may by now be discovering your own personal "you-brand." Financing the consulting and marketing firm's fees is typically the difficult part - most solo attorneys do not have the budget for a marketing plan of a mid- to large-size firm. Some will have a modest amount to invest. However, it almost goes without mention that law school fails to educate lawyers on the importance of marketing and, more specifically, branding.
One of the most significant patterns that is found with most failed small businesses, let alone sole practitioners, is the lack of any meaningful branding. As such, the inability to stand out in a sea of harsh competition spells for doom. Moreover, a "shot-gun" approach without appealing to a specific target market will likely add fuel to the flames of one's demise. The lesson applies to many different businesses, including we attorneys. Part of the key to success, as James Chartrand suggests, is in finding as well as deciding the 'You' that you want to brand so as to attract the desired clientele. (Find out more about his marketing philosophies at http://susancartierliebel.typepad.com/build_a_solo_practice/you_are_the_product/)
Chartrand, more or less, advocates for a "Know thy self" approach that essentially builds a practice in a fashion comparable to "law of attraction" marketing techniques used by many in the sales industry. Don't let any delusions convince you otherwise, attorneys engage in the sales process more that they realize or they are already well aware. In doing so, a good axiom for this dimension of the practice of law is to maintain the ideal image you want that will gravitate to you the ideal clients you want to have.
It may be of no surprise to anyone who knows of the life of Abraham Lincoln. Without so much as two 'hay pennies' to rub together as a young man he arrived at Springfield, Illinois, which would later become the home to one of the nation's most successful solo attorneys. His ability, undeniably, was a temendous factor in his renown. Yet, in part to his success in starting out as a solo practioner, Lincoln wrote letters to wealthy railroad owners and simply asked for their business. I am not so much supporting this particular method, although the likelihood is that your state bar allows for direct mail marketing, as I am making the point that you should target your ideal market or desired prospects.
In brief, while branding is perhaps an easy lesson in itself, it is not always that evident to those starting out. Branding takes on many different aspects, but two stand out as seminal to this attorney: (1) image and, (2) the target market. Fancy letterhead, a top-notch website, and quality advertising pieces, among other things, certainly help in the process. Nevertheless, the 'You' that you brand ought to share a quality or like interest, an affinity, with your target prospects. Consequently, ask successful attorneys in your area one of their secrets of success and I bet they will tell you that the branding they chose is among the top 3 most important.
The shoe cables a repent reward near the visible.