The Bible, Harry Potter and telling a great story

What do the Bible and the latest Harry Potter book have in common? At first glance, maybe nothing. However they actually share an important trait – both are stories and use effective storytelling techniques to evoke emotion – and in the case of the bible, the stories help provide Christians with a deeper meaning of life and how we should live.Now, I promise not to get theological here. Really, what I want to point out is the power of “storytelling” and how law firms and attorneys can use storytelling concepts to help in your business development efforts.Let me provide an example of the power of storytelling:

One morning a man is out on his daily walk and comes across a construction site, with 3 bricklayers busy at work. Curious, the man asks the bricklayers what they are building. The first bricklayer is very busy and as such answers, “What does it look like?” and continues his work. The second bricklayer tells the man that they are busy building a brick wall. The third man, pauses for a moment, saying that they are building the most beautiful museum that will hold great and beautiful art from around the world.’

Obviously, asking the same question to the three workers yielded greatly varied answers, and though all of the answers where accurate, only one of them would help build a mental image and evoke emotion. Now apply this example to a recent conversation where someone that you didn’t know may have asked what you do for a living. Did you tell him that you are a lawyer? Or did you tell them something more – something that actually helped that person create a positive mental image of you and your law firm – an image that may provoke that person to tell his or her family or friends about you or perhaps remember your name should he or she ever need your services.

Effective trial attorneys are often great storytellers in the courtroom, realizing that while people rationalize and legitimize with their brains, they often make decisions with their hearts, and cognitively use stories to help remember key points. However, when it comes to business development, many attorneys, when asked what they do for a living, provide answers are anything but emotional in nature.

The same concepts of storytelling used in the Bible or the latest best-selling novel should be used by an attorney or law firm to create an emotional bond with potential clients and strengthen his or her law firm’s brand. Every law firm should have a core story – that is to say, a story that transforms the values of ideals of the law firm into a single unified message. And every attorney should have a compelling story that is in concert with the firm’s core story. Need more proof? Think of two pervasive consumer brands – Nike and Apple. Both have very strong brands – Nike’s brand pure and simple is about the will to win. And one can very easily understand Apple’s brand through their “I’m a Mac” commercials. The truth is, when looking at most brands that have endured, they have, at their very root, stories that help build the brand and emotional connections with their clients? Why should your law firm be any different?