So ironically, the best commercial I watched this evening — Super Bowl Sunday — wasn't even during the Super Bowl. Instead, it came during the new CBS show "Undercover Boss," which had the coveted post–Super Bowl slot. (So coveted because people tend to be too brain dead to turn off the TV after the game ends, as we were.)
Unlike the Super Bowl ads, this commercial featured no pantsless office workers, screaming chickens, or sadistic Doritos-loving dogs. Just a barber, a voiceover, and a sign (from Office Depot, natch). And a lesson for lawyers on how to price and market their services.
The commercial features Dan, who owns a small barbershop. To his alarm, a large haircut chain moves in across the street, featuring six-dollar haircuts. Dan can't compete at that price. Instead, Dan goes to Office Depot, where he buys a sign:
Soon, the large discount chain has gone out of business. All (presumably) because Dan was smart and didn't try to compete on price (and went to Office Depot to buy his sign).
You and I are Dan. We provide a quality service that people will pay for if they understand its value up front. If Dan tried to fight a price war against a huge chain, he would end up like all the little five-and-dime stores across the country that evaporated once Walmart got to town. Or the mom-and-pop hardware stores once Home Depot arrived. Or the little stationery stores once Office ... oops. (Awkward.)
Dan (yes, I know; Dan's not real. He's a character in a commercial. But work with me here. It's like a parable) knows that he can provide something that the discount chain can't. In this case, higher-quality haircuts. Instead of trying to fight a battle on his competitors' terms, Dan wisely changed the game and fought on his own terms. And he knew his customers would appreciate that value, and would pay for it.
Don't compete on other law firms' terms. Figure out what you can do differently from your competitors, and then buy a big (proverbial) sign. Be like Dan.
You can watch the ad here.