Stand Out Through Stories: A Lesson From Schlitz

Stand Out Through Stories
Photo by Kevin K

I was meeting with a law firm the other day, trying to figure out what set them apart from the competition — their “key differentiators.”

As we went over their various strengths, someone observed that “everybody else can say the same things.” And that may be true. Go to any law firm website and you’ll see them brag about how they provide “personal attention” and “responsiveness” or are “results-oriented” and “solution-focused.”

The problem is not so much that these are cliches, it’s that most firms stop right there at the “saying” part. They’re all “tell” and no “show.” Their claims ring hollow because they offer no evidence to support them.

I told the client that all firms strive for pretty much the same things. What will set us apart are the stories we use to bring those claims to life. Others may talk about “relationships” but nobody else will have the same story to tell. In fact, most aren’t even bothering to tell their story at all.

And then comes this great story about Schlitz beer from Copyblogger. Back in the ’20s, a writer was hired to help the company improve its market position. He toured the brewery where he was shown all the steps the company takes to ensure the purity of their product, from filtration to sterilization to the fresh water they use.

At the end of the tour, the conversation went like this:

When Hopkins asked why Schlitz didn’t tell their customers about all of this rigorous attention to purity and quality, the response was “Every beer company does this.”

“But others have never told this story,” Hopkins replied.

Within months of the “new” story, Schlitz went from 5th place to a tie for first in the market.

So your story doesn’t even have to be unique. You just have to be the one telling it.

2 thoughts on “Stand Out Through Stories: A Lesson From Schlitz

  1. Reblogged this on The Erratic Esquire and commented:
    This post is worth committing to memory.

    And it brings up one of my favorite questions: if every law firm is “client-focused, unique, outcome-oriented, and creative,” why should clients choose yours over another equally “client-focused, unique, outcome-oriented, and creative” law firm?

    On a related note: if your only answer to “what makes your firm different?” is “our people,” you’re not differenty.

  2. Good point about the “people” element. Though it does point to the fact that so much of law firm marketing comes down to relationships. I suppose that’s true for any service business.

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