Lawyers, what’s wrong with this picture?

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A business owner’s truck was in front of me in traffic the other day. I knew it belonged to a business owner because there was a decal on the back window of the cab that advertised the owner’s business. Actually, it advertised the owner’s two businesses.

Behold:

“[Owner’s last name] Professional Auto Detail & Landscape [phone number]”

Okay, what’s wrong with this picture?

If you’re looking for a landscaper for your yard, are you going to choose one that also does auto detail or will you keep looking and hire a specialist?

Correct.

It’s okay to own more than one business. But you have to be careful about how you market them.

If you’re a lawyer and a licensed as a real estate broker, for example, stifle the urge to mention both in the same breath. Or ad. Or car decal.

In fact, consider not telling anyone you’re also a broker. You’ll scare away prospective clients who want to hire someone who is dedicated to practicing law and successful enough at it that they don’t have to do anything else. Mentioning you’re also a broker will also scare away prospective real estate broker referral sources who see you as a competitor.

You know where I’m going with this. If you have more than one practice area, be careful how you promote yourself.

Clients prefer to hire a lawyer who specializes. If they’re looking for a divorce lawyer, for example, the fact that you also handle criminal defense doesn’t help, it hurts. Clients think you might not be as good as a lawyer who only handles family law. (Some clients may stay away because, “ew, she has criminals in her waiting room. . .”)

Does that mean you should have separate websites, brochures, ads, presentations, and other marketing collateral for each practice area? Unless your practice areas are a natural fit, you should consider it. Personal injury, workers’ compensation, and med mal, go together. Small business transactional and litigation are fine. Estate planning and elder law work. Other mixes, perhaps not so much.

Think about it, okay? Especially when you order your next truck decal.

Make sure you don’t send out a mixed marketing message. This will help

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