Welcome to “How to spend your advertising dollars wisely and create sustained profits” Okay, who’s the best attorney in the room, please raise your hand. Well that’s what the public wants to know and I will try to show you how to help them come to that decision.
My name is Richard Sackett and my background sheet is somewhere in your paperwork. We’ll just start with 40 years in the business and pause with legal marketing campaigns now in 51 cities. Let’s jump to the first and last question I am always asked:
How much will this cost me?
1. 15 TO 25 PERCENT. If you are an hourly biller or working on a fee base less that 33% we recommend no less than 15% of your gross overhead. If you are a full contingency firm, no less than 25%. These are the “no less than” starting points. This will give both maintenance and some growth. Nothing is absolute and you can adjust these figures up or down based on the competitiveness of your market, size of your community, and type of cases you prefer and your own ambition. But start here, and if it’s working spend what you must to become dominant. The public will only remember one name on unaided recall. Maximum three on aided recall.
2. DO YOUR HOMEWORK before you jump into the game. Before we take a new client we do a complete market study. We check both the existing level of competition and that which has gone before. Here’s how you can do that. Call the TV stations and ask them to give you competitive data for the past year. They can list every law firm and what they spent. Get copies of the yellow pages from the library or the Yellow Pages themselves. Go to the courthouse and check the fillings for the kind of cases you wish to advertise for. Ask the clerks who has the action. Do not assume you already know. And once you start, keep checking.
3. REACH SHOULD BE NO LESS THAN 85% OF THE DESIRED DEMO AND 5/WK. Reach and frequency go hand in hand. Every major media salesperson whether its TV, newspaper, radio, billboard and others can give you the number of times and the number of people who will see your ad. The more the better. Have the salesperson tell you, based on the info you got in Item 2 what the competition is doing in this area. Be careful not to judge media completely on this basis as you are looking not just for exposure but response.
4. THE MESSAGE MUST BE DIFFERENT. Your message must be presented in an unexpected fashion. Similar messages tend to reinforce the larger advertiser. “Expected content” that tips the reader viewer into recognizing the message will tend to be ignored. Law books, offices and other comfortable scenes easily cue the recipient what the message is about before you have had a chance to describe your unique selling proposition.
5. SET THE RULES OF EXPECTATION. In an attorney television campaign we set the basic time to achieve self-funding in a new market at 18 months. That changes up or down with the amount of money invested as well as the ferocity and funding of the current competitor. Advertising is a combination of expense and revenue generator. Set your goals realistically and stay with them. Consult with others in a similar market size or call a professional to find out what you should expect. Make sure you have enough money to complete your plan. Response is not linear. It will increase in time as you penetrate the consciousness of the public. Remember you are competing for brain space with every other advertiser including Coca-cola, Ford, everyone including your competitor.
MONITOR. Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the functions is monitoring. Response is a combination of stimulus, not just the answer to the question “how did you find us?” Advertising, referral, community involvement, casual comments of others all contribute to the decision. Monitor your growth, quality of the cases and clients and income attributable to new clients. These are the true measures. If you are growing the question is irrelevant. If you are not, try something different regardless of the answer.
PRESS YOUR LUCK IMMEDIATELY. Repeat your successes. Fame and fortune are not forever. Your competitor will notice your success and will counter. If you are making headway, push it before he wakes up. Put as much distance between you and others as possible. Don’t experiment with new themes until growth stops. Repeat your successes.
DEFINE AND DOMINATE YOUR DEMO. If you are using mass media, match your audience by age and socio economic grouping. Niche out smaller segments and saturate that segment. Too many try to speak to the entire community with too little funds. A successful strategy is to condense your message into a shorter span. If you are doing criminal work, buy all the billboards near the jail and courthouse. Forget the rest. Clobber the needy at the point of need. If you are doing wills and trusts buy TV shows like Meet the Press and put three or four commercials in the show. Dominate the audience you need and don’t waste efforts elsewhere.
BE EXISTENTIAL. Remove yourself from the profession when crafting your message. The public doesn’t know the limitations of evidence, statutes, contract language, and rules of civil procedure. They don’t want to know. Since everyone has the same license, you must find ways to differentiate yourself from the person sitting next to you. One facet of your firm’s personality is not enough. You must show many facets to the public for them to form a complete picture of you.
That’s the basics and it looks like I have a few minutes left to give those who are more experienced some quick pointers on how to craft a message.
Television: Use motion to attract the eye to the screen. Put color in unusual places. Music should be on every spot and complement the action. Sound effects where necessary. Silence is not golden but loud noises will backlash against you. Make sure that a speaker is sincere and clear. Make your point at least twice in every spot and end on a positive note. Phone numbers should appear as often as practical. Break away
from the “normal” presentation.
Radio: Same as above but unfamiliar noises are better. Paint a mental picture for the listener. Force him to participate in the copy with questions. Music should be more subtle than in TV. Use several voices in the same spot to avoid the monotonous ear effect.
Billboards: Avoid flat white and blue as backgrounds. Seek out right hand readers no higher than 8% off the line of sight and less than 350 feet from the road. Monitor tree growth in the springtime. Move boards after 60 days or change copy after 90 when possible. Make sure the change is a drastic color and image change.
Yellow Pages: Cover as much of the “yellow” with other color as possible. Be BOLD. Put in a laundry list of services but in large enough type than can be read easily by farsighted people (no less than 12 point). Make sure the Phone Number Dominates and is not hidden or small. Place it next to the dominant icon of your firm (logo, your picture, building photo).
Newspaper: Use with a time sensitive item. Don’t overdue white space as prospects are “reading” and looking for info. Make type at least 12 point. Be concise. Use the Who, What, When and Where pyramid. Be specific, this is not a place to be institutional. Buy combo’s that include Sunday.
Buses: Stay away from the backs. They get dirty and are often not cleaned. Make sure they are on the proper routes. Use the same principles of Billboard design.
Since everyone sees advertising, everyone has an opinion on it. There is no digital device that can tell you a good ad from a bad one before you make it or run it. That’s why there are so many people who say they can do what I can do. The only true test is whether you are moving the needle consistently…whether you have enough money to do tomorrow what you are doing today.
To summarize, if you want the public’s attention, have your legal campaign be BOLD, Different, stand out.
Advertising is both the art of the message and the science of delivering it to the right people.