Answers to Your Attorney Marketing Questions from Great Legal Marketing
Ben Glass and his team at Great Legal Marketing work with an elite mix of attorneys from virtually every practice area from personal injury to bankruptcy and beyond. We are definitely not for everyone, in fact, while we attract many who "want" to get better we know that only about 20% of any population will actually do the work necessary. The difference in results has nothing to do with where your law practice is located or how much experience you have. This is all about the choices that YOU make.
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How often should my law firm’s radio ad be on the air?
It’s hard to say. While there are a few general rules for creating a radio advertising schedule for your law firm, it will largely depend on who your customer is and when he is most likely to be listening to the radio. When you have those factors narrowed down, you can start to apply a frequency to your broadcasts.
Here are a few guidelines to creating your broadcasting schedule:
- Dominate one part of the day. Stations are often broken into five-hour blocks: morning, afternoon, drive time, evening, or overnight. For music stations, start with ads during one block for all five weekdays.
- Form an association. If you’re advertising during a news or talk radio show, make sure you have ads running every day along with the broadcast so that the listeners associate your practice with the show.
- Assess by month. The best way to evaluate if your marketing is working is to choose two weeks per month and make sure you are on all week. Choose the first and third, second and fourth, or two weeks in a row, constantly tracking your returns.
- Add gradually. If your tracking indicates a positive return, add a different block per day or a buy of the weekend, growing toward 18 to 20 ads per week.
Radio marketing buys are often on a sliding scale, and peak times of day will be more expensive than “low” listener hours. However, if your potential client is a night owl or early riser, you might edge out your competition to appealing to customers in the “cheaper” hours, saving you money and earning his business at the same time.
Our law firm is embarking on its first-ever TV advertising campaign. Isn't it enough to ask viewers to call our main 800 number and access the URL of our home page, so they can obtain more information?
No, it's not! Utilizing your main incoming 800 number and the URL of your home page in your TV commercials is not only shortsighted, it's actively counterproductive. You need to be able to track how many people respond to your TV commercial specifically.
The only way to do this is to set up a separate toll-free number, and a special URL on your law firm's website that relates to the information in your TV ad. Otherwise, your only hope of figuring out whether your TV campaign was successful would be to have a staff member actively debrief prospective clients during incoming calls (“How exactly did you find out about our firm?”), which can be an unpleasant experience for the person on the other end of the line.
It's true that extra expenses are involved in setting up a brand-new toll-free number, and designing a separate page of your site devoted to TV viewers—but then again, these costs are an order of magnitude less than what you've already spent on your law firm TV campaign. All of that money you invested in your commercial, and in buying time from your local basic cable ad rep, will be wasted if you can't track exactly how people respond to your TV ad, what time of day they call you, what they ask you about, etc.
Not that you're interested in hearing about even more expenditures right now, but you also have to invest in good client-management software; if a person is interested enough to call your law firm in the first place, you want to be able to follow up with him on a regular basis!
I'd like to advertise my law firm on TV, but all I can afford is a basic cable package. Don't people hate watching the ads on basic cable?
Yes, by and large, they do—but that's not because basic cable is intrinsically inferior to network TV. The reason basic cable ads have such a poor reputation is that they tend to be cheap, repetitive, and interminable.
On a major network such as ABC, a 30-second commercial seems “long” to viewers, whereas all bets are off for basic cable, where some infomercial-type commercials last as long as two minutes. Also, cable operators tend to cluster basic cable ads into interminably long packages—and viewers tend to become weary and frustrated along the fourth minute of a five-minute ad break!
There is a way you can buck this trend, though, and that's by making your basic cable ad fresh, interesting, informative and (above all) not cheap or boring. Given the woeful production values of many hyper-local cable ads, a professional-looking TV commercial for your law firm will be welcomed by viewers, who may be especially inclined to pay attention to an ad that doesn't actively repel them.
You should also pressure your cable sales rep into giving you good placement for your ad (for example, you don't want to be the ninth or tenth commercial in one of those five-minute breaks, and it's better to advertise near the start rather than the end of any given show), though this may wind up costing you some extra money.
At Great Legal Marketing, we know that a well-crafted basic cable advertising campaign can drive potential clients to your law firm—while advertising on the cheap can send the wrong message to viewers, who will lump you in with the hawkers of mail-order pillows and vitamin supplements.
I want to track my customer responses to make sure my marketing is working. I have a website, mailers, and a free book—which one should I track?
All of them. In this economy, many business owners are quick to stop investing in any costly marketing tactic if they feel that it isn’t working. However, without any concrete information about which media are bringing in customers, business owners are just making blind decisions.
For example, imagine you send out a flyer to your entire contact list with a specific trackable phone number or web page at the bottom—one that is only used for this mailing. By tracking the customers that call the number or visit the site, you will be able to determine:
- How many total leads the flyer gained (and whether it offset the cost of printing)
- How many of those leads became clients
- The percentage of customers brought in by a specific type of marketing
- The reliability of this type of marketing
- Whether this tactic is right for you, and how best to apply it
By tracking all of your marketing materials separately, you be able to tell at a glance which of your marketing outlets is the most valuable. Comparing information on your customer sources will not only tell you exactly where your business is coming from, but how long it takes customers from that media to become clients, and which ones have the most potential to turn into leads for future business.
I have given my employees a script to use on the phone when talking to potential customers. It is working, or do the customers know it’s a sales pitch?
Even though your customers are calling you to perform a service, they are still aware that they’re calling a business. That’s not a problem; they want to hire you, and you want to be hired. However, your initial contact with them can he handled in such a way that the customer feels better about his situation and reassured in choosing you to represent him.
The best marketing for lawyers always includes a little trial and error. The surest way to know if something is (or isn’t) working is to test it, and this applies to your law firm’s phone etiquette as well. You can set up “mystery” callers to ensure that your staff have a firm grasp on your message before you release it into the public.
Here is an easy step-by-step “mystery” caller strategy:
- Develop a few specific, pre-scripted scenarios. Callers are real people with real concerns, so invent a few typical clients. Make sure they each have a specific question to see how your staff handles it.
- Inform your staff that you will be doing mystery call training.
- Evaluate the staff member’s performance, including the time it takes to greet the caller, how they answer questions and attitude problems, and how they end the call.
- Adjust your team training based on your results. Involve your staff in the process, asking them what they thought could have gone better before giving them your feedback.
You’re not going to be able to oversee every phone call that comes into your office, so it is important to have staff members who are well-trained in your company message, but can also think on their feet.
I want to advertise my law firm on the radio, but I'm worried that listeners will get annoyed if my ad is repeated too often, especially the part reciting the toll-free number multiple times. What should I do?
In this regard, radio is an unusual medium. While most TV viewers would be outraged by a grating, low-budget commercial that aired 10 times an hour, this is less of an issue when it comes to radio, because it's easier to “tune out” a repetitive ad when you're listening to it rather than watching it.
In fact, some of the most successful radio ads of all time have been grating and repetitive, incorporating screeching voices, silly sound effects, and intrusive music.
Granted, you want your own radio spot to be more tasteful (though not so tasteful that listeners don't pay attention to it!), since you don't want people to develop negative associations when they hear the name of your law firm.
Only a consultant can tell you for sure, but repeating your ad five times an hour may not be a bad idea, and even greater frequency may be indicated if you're willing to pay the price and you know that you have an interested audience on the other end.
If you're an attorney who specializes in car accidents, for example, it might be a good idea to repeat your ad multiple times during the morning and evening rush hours.
In the end, you have no choice but to do some intensive research and figure out;
- Your target audience
- What stations your target audience listens to
- What time of day they tend to tune in.
Once you've gathered the data, repeating your ad multiple times in the course of an hour will often turn out to be a good thing, rather than a bad thing.
I know my legal ad campaign is flawed, but I don’t know what the problem is. What can I do?
If you’re like most attorneys, you’ll know if your legal ads are working only because you’ve seen an increase in business since your ad campaign started. However, this isn’t a good metric for success, since there are many different facets to your marketing.
To find out what the problem is, you need to identify where the problem is. The next time you have a marketing meeting, you should focus on these three objectives:
- Confirm what is working. Always start with the positives. This will give you something to measure the other elements of your marketing against.
- Discover what isn’t working. This doesn’t mean “cutting” aspects of your campaign that aren’t doing well. In some cases, it could mean changing the way you do them. For instance, if you don’t have many Facebook followers, don’t delete the account; post a poll to encourage interaction, and set goals for updating every day.
- Find out what’s next. There should always be something “in the works” for your campaign. It could be a TV spot, a YouTube video with a celebrity guest star, or a tech-savvy tip that you try to improve your exposure. Implement one at a time; at the next meeting, it should be evaluated and placed on one of the other two lists.
The most important thing is to do something every day that influences your advertising campaign. Collect emails, online articles, and news items in a folder to discuss at your next meeting. You never know what will be the next big thing in marketing, so it pays (literally) to keep your ear to the ground.
- Confirm what is working. Always start with the positives. This will give you something to measure the other elements of your marketing against.
I recently installed a phone surveillance system to monitor how my staff is handling incoming calls. I've noticed that one of my favorite paralegals has a very casual manner on the phone, which I fear may be repelling potential clients, but I'm afraid how she'll react if I criticize her. What should I do?
Look at it this way—would you rather spare your employee's feelings, or send potential clients to that law firm down the block? Proper telephone demeanor is a key component in promoting your law firm.
If your paralegal winds up losing her job because your firm goes out of business, that won't do much for her feelings, either, and you may be joining her on the unemployment line.
Part of the baggage that goes with being the managing partner of a law firm is having to nip inappropriate behavior in the bud, which usually entails having some mildly uncomfortable conversations.
Yes, you need to inform your paralegal that she has to present a more professional image on the phone, and you have no choice but to sit down with her, describe what you've seen on the surveillance tapes, and suggest ways she can improve the client experience.
You may be tempted to skip the face-to-face meeting and simply send your staffer an email, but this is a very bad idea!
If you present your critique the right way—not as a head-on assault, but as a series of gentle suggestions—your paralegal will be more likely to absorb what you have to say and change her behavior going forward.
For all you know, she already senses that she isn't handling phone calls as well as she could be, and will welcome this opportunity to improve her performance—and if she doesn't, you'll know that you don't have a “team player” and that this person needs to be reassigned to a place far, far away from the phone banks.
Will I benefit from a paid Google search ad for my law firm?
It depends on who you are and which keywords you buy. Consider the recent study done by eBay researchers, who disabled their paid Google search advertising to track the benefits of buying branded keywords—and found that they were wasting a great deal of money.
The researchers discovered that many of their customers were loyal buyers, people who had used the site before, or people who were familiar with eBay’s products and services. Put together, this left very few customers who were new and needed the website suggested to them—the very group of people paid search ads are meant to target.
The only real benefit paid search ads generated was a slight increase in eBay customers who were looking for a particular item that they did not know was available on eBay, such as musical instruments or wholesale items—and even then, profit was minimal.
Simply put, eBay’s paid searches were ineffective because they were too well-known. Customers who had previously purchased items on eBay were likely to do it again, and those who had sold items on eBay were well versed in using the website.
As the eBay study proves, paid search ads are only effective for certain businesses—and only then, if used correctly. For example, there’s no need to purchase keywords containing your law firm’s name. As long as you are the only firm operating in your area with that name, your name will appear in a “natural” (unpaid) listing, which will appear at the top of the search anyway, without your wasting money to have it placed there.
I was thinking about putting a video on our law firm's home page, in which I explain the services we offer to clients. But won't this just be duplicating what we already say elsewhere on the site?
Yes, it will—but that's not a bad thing!
You have to remember that some of the potential clients who land on your site will be more comfortable reading text, and others will prefer to sit back in their chairs and watch you explain your expertise.
If they're especially interested, they'll probably do both, watching the video after they've already gleaned from your home page whether you're a good fit for them or not. For this reason, there's no problem with repeating in your video what you already say on your site.
If you're worried about a potential Google search penalty, put your mind at ease—that only applies to pages of your site that repeat (in text) the same information over and over again.
Of course, you need to make sure that what you say in your video reinforces, rather than contradicts, what is written elsewhere on your site, or even on the same page. It will do you no good to plunk a video in which you discuss your divorce-law expertise in the middle of a page devoted to personal injury lawsuits, and you also need to annotate the video in a way that's consistent with the rest of your site.
At the very least, you must give your video a written headline, and provide a brief description underneath telling visitors what the video is about. This will also help the placement of your video in YouTube search results.