Nancy and I recently traveled with three other couples. Each night at dinner, the four couples divided the bill evenly and put our credit cards on the table. In some restaurants they added the tip to the bill. In other restaurants, we asked each other how much to tip.

Having experienced the how much to tip question, I had to grin when I read Seth Godin’s blog post: “How much are you going to tip?”  You have to read it to see how Seth ties it to attracting clients. In essence, he points out clients want to make the most popular and safe choice because by doing so they are blameless.

I hear that all the time from lawyers I coach. They tell me it is challenging to break through to the large business clients because the in-house lawyers are making the safe choice.

As Seth Godin suggests, the key to success is to become, or at least appear to be, the dominant player in your field. I was able to do that in my narrow niche of transportation construction law. It took time, but I was able to do it by writing a monthly column in the most read trade publication and speaking at national construction industry association meetings. I think I was really lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

In the blog, Seth also gives suggestions that apply to young lawyers. He suggests:

And the best plan for the insurgent brand? To find a smaller tribe, become the presumed winner there, and scale it up across tribes.

Looking back now, I can see that I started with smaller contractors and scaled it up to some of the largest contractors in the country. At the same time, as you will learn in a future post, my client development efforts were always aimed at ultimately attracting those larger contractors. So I think there are two questions you want to ponder:

  1. What is the right place at the right time for client development in 2012?
  2. What is the target market smaller tribe that you can win and fit your firm’s client requirements and then scale it up?