Think about the last time you really paid attention to TV commercials. It was probably during the Super Bowl where the ads are more about being the most shocking or entertaining, rather than what they're selling. Most people skip all those annoying television commercials by live streaming, DVR recordings, or just by looking at their phones during commercials.

So, what makes potential clients think twice about ignoring a commercial? Memorable, repetitive, funny, or shocking commercials are what people remember. Controversy and entertainment, just like news stories, are what make quality video spots. Scantily-clad models playing games may sell beer and cars, but they're not the kind of image you want when thinking about your firm's advertising.

The Two Main Faces of Lawyer TV Ads

Think about the legal profession as a whole; it's not a source of fun entertainment. That's why there are so few legal sitcoms, but so many legal dramas. The law does not usually lend itself well to light-hearted entertainment, so that leaves us focusing on the more serious, dramatic side of court cases and litigation.

What this produces is typically a dry, "call me to have your case evaluated" commercial that works like a live-action Yellow Pages ad. It shows a lawyer in his sterile office setting, straight-faced and serious. It gives you the same basic information that a much cheaper lawyer advertising solution could impart in less time and effort.

The other road left to travel is the dramatic option; TV commercials showing hospitalized accident victims or depressed couples in divorce meetings. This type of legal marketing preys on the victims' emotions and reinforces the need to get a lawyer immediately. Not a very nice image for your friendly neighborhood lawyer, is it?

Are either of these types of commercials memorable or entertaining? Probably not, and that means they're not going to be effective lawyer advertising strategies to attract your clients.

The Cost of a TV Commercial

I can't tell you exactly what a commercial will cost. Your commercial cost will depend on where you live, who you hire to produce and distribute it, where and when you show your ad, and many other factors. I can tell you that many cheaper alternatives are just as (if not more) effective and will be less stressful to produce.

You're going to have to deal with a lot of different elements when you decide on creating a commercial for your lawyer advertising plan: 

  • Production of the commercial
  • Approval for broadcast
  • Distribution to local networks
  • Deciding on and purchasing time slots and views

That's just a basic shortlist, depending on where you live and who you work with, those steps could be expanded. All of these things cost money. If you're lucky, you only have to pay the production company, and they'll offer to take care of the rest for you (included in their overall fee, of course).

How Do You Know Your TV Commercials are Successful?

The easiest way to determine if your commercials are effective is by asking your new clients. How many of them came to you after seeing you on TV? If your answer after asking for a few months is "zero," it is time to reconsider your TV marketing strategy.

If you're not getting clients from your commercials like you thought you would, don't bother speaking to the TV ad vultures who sold you the production/broadcasting. Their answer is always going to be, "You didn't buy enough views/the right timeslots!" If you were to believe the ad vultures, somehow, it's always your fault for not spending MORE.

Cheaper Alternatives to TV Commercials

I'm not going to stop you if your firm is dead-set on lawyer advertising through commercials. If you're willing to lay out the time and money, go for it. Some lawyers have found success through the TV. But before you make that decision, I want you to think about what TV commercials are: video clips.

The benefits of commercials are that you can see real people, hear them, and become familiar with their image and mannerisms. Isn't that the same thing I've been saying about online video? Online video is easier to produce without the help of a production company, free to distribute, and comes with fewer restrictions.

Ben Glass
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Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.