1 Personal Injury Law Advertising & the Media: How to Win in Your Market
2 Personal Injury Law Advertising & the Media: How to Win in Your Market As every personal injury attorney knows, competition in each market is fierce. In the everchanging environment of media and advertising, law firms can find it difficult to make the right legal advertising choices for their media dollars. One of the greatest challenges of any advertiser is to identify a target audience. Because personal injury attorneys can easily identify an audience, it should make their media decisions simple, right? Wrong. Because of the vast array of available media in each market, it is easy to make mistakes. Capitol Media Solutions offers the following advice for personal injury attorneys who want to gain prominence and establish a loyal following in their marketplace. Ask The Right Questions Personal injury practices operate differently than any other type of law firm. Rather than charge expensive fees for their services, personal injury firms focus on a large volume of cases in order to generate their income. Because of this, in order to obtain the necessary volume, personal injury firms need to advertise their names and their services to the public. This need for exposure makes it essential to put the right media strategy in place. Developing this strategy begins with asking the right questions. What are your goals for the personal injury advertising campaign? What is your budget? Have you identified your target audience? What are your reasons for advertising your legal services? Do you want to brand your firm, or are you hoping to increase your number of clients? Having the answers to these questions will go a long way toward developing your media strategy. Budget Considerations Determining what a personal injury firm should spend will depend upon the location of that firm, the size of the organization, the area of practice, and the expected results of the personal injury advertising campaign. Clearly, firms in larger or highly competitive markets will spend more than small town firms. Large firms handling multiple specialties will spend more than small or niche firms. But no matter the size or location, all personal injury firms should set aside a generous budget for legal marketing. When your practice relies heavily on the volume of cases and new clients you take on, your advertising budget needs to be aggressive. In our experience, clients tend to see the most ROI when they spend around 20% of their gross annual fees on law firm advertising and marketing programs. This may sound like a huge investment, but personal injury firms succeed only by reaching and converting as many new prospects as possible. This is the business model of the personal injury market, thus making advertising and marketing spend one of the most crucial parts of your business. Commit to the amount of money you intend to spend, and be realistic about what it costs to reach your target audience. Understanding the pros and cons of the available advertising vehicles will positively impact the development of your marketing strategy and help you to construct an appropriate budget. TV for Personal Injury Advertising Every single person on this planet with access to a television has seen a personal injury law commercial. Affectionately referred to ambulance chasers by the general public, these lawyers
3 appear composed and almost evangelical in their promise to serve the needs of the audience. By all other advertising standards, these commercials are considered passé, but they exist for a reason. They are effective, and they create an immediate response. Each commercial offers a call to action, and the audience delivers. So, how do you know if television advertising is right for your firm? The first consideration, of course, is your budget. Whether in a large metro market like NYC or Atlanta or in a smaller market like Charleston, air time is in high demand. If you want to advertise on network television, you will need to allocate a significant amount of your budget to cover this cost. However, cable rates are better and more competitive than ever before. Audience demographics are scarily accurate and readily available from every station, and bulk buys offer you tremendous savings opportunities. However, the actual media spend is not the only cost. Production of a high-quality, effective commercial is expensive. As difficult as you may see DIY media buying, creating your own commercial is an even more daunting task. There are so many creative considerations to explore when conceptualizing a commercial. Do you want a live person to appeal to the audience or do you want to use a voice over-style commercial? Is there someone in your practice who is television-ready? Have you tested that person with a focus group to determine his or her audience appeal? Do you know what you are permitted to say on television and what you must avoid? While all of these questions may sound silly, these answers are critical to the success of your legal advertising television campaign. Because commercials are expensive, both to create and to air, it is imperative that the commercial be a positive representation of the firm s brand. If you are considering a commercial, Capitol Media Solutions highly recommends seeking the services of a qualified video production company in your market to help you. When vetting a film vendor, ask for references from other advertisers and insist on viewing previous work. Ask for budget costs upfront, and ask what level of input you are given in the creative process. As you can see, the idea of television advertising seems exciting, but it can be a very confusing, expensive task. While no one can argue the effectiveness of a good television ad, there are many forms of law firm marketing that are equally effective and considerably less costly. Print: One of the Oldest Staples in the Legal Marketing Playbook For all of those who claim to hear the death rattle of print media, they clearly have not been advertising to the personal injury market. Print advertising for personal injury attorneys remains an incredibly effective tool. Because print space is decreasing ad rates have risen, but the creation of hyperlocal print outlets has exploded. This hyperlocal trend makes print advertising a simple, cost-effective way to reach your target audience. This is especially true for those trying to reach the 50+ market. This demographic still tends to subscribe to their weekly paper and tends to read it cover to cover. Magazine advertising also proves to be an effective medium for personal injury attorneys. The glossy and still-glamorous image of magazines may make some potential advertisers squeamish, but never fear. Magazine advertising is less expensive than ever before and a great way to reach an extremely targeted audience. If you are launching a referral program in your market for other attorneys, consider advertising in a publication like the ABA Journal, the magazine published by the American Bar Association. Even magazines published nationally can target a geographic area
4 meaning that your marketing dollars are not wasted advertising to potential partners thousands of miles away, but only to those in a smaller, more targeted area. And, just like with newspapers, the trend of hyperlocal has spread to magazines. There are several local magazines published in every major metropolitan area of the country. Most of the demographic information for these publications is available online or in advertising media kits. This information will lead you to make better decisions when choosing a print option for personal injury advertising. However, no print vehicles are able to give you the uber-specific targeting options available to online advertisers. Online Law Firm Marketing Considerations Every personal injury law firm s priority for online exposure must be its own website. The site must be set up to attract both counsel-seekers and information-seekers on specific personal injury subject matters. Counsel seekers are those who go online seeking an attorney to deal with their specific medical or legal issue. Your site must clearly state the specialty of your firm and the benefits to the potential client who chooses to work with you. Your site MUST capture and convert the counsel-seeker. These clients are a personal injury firm s bread and butter. They come online looking for you. Your site must convince that seeker to contact you. Information seekers come online searching for information about a specific personal injury matter. Your site must also contain information that is both helpful to information seekers while simultaneously offering a call to action in order to convert those information-seekers into clients. This is a delicate balance to achieve, as it is imperative not to have the information-seeking prospect feel sold to by your firm. Consider a blog that is purely for informational purposes regarding your area of practice new regulations, court cases in other states, advice, etc. to draw the information seeker to your site. You must effectively point out ways that you can help them and show sympathy to their plight in order to convert the information-seeker. While your site must communicate your message effectively, it must also be searchable and optimized for all major search engines. Google, Bing, and Yahoo frequently change their SEO and SEM requirements. If you do not adhere to their policies, your site can drop out of the natural search rankings. Capitol Media Solutions recommends allocating part of your budget to make certain that your site is in compliance with all current SEO requirements, and for ongoing maintenance of your site in this area. There is no question that online advertising provides personal injury law firms the opportunity to reach the most specific audience. While there are several types of online advertising avenues to consider, most firms choose to engage in some type of pay-per-click campaign. However, because of the competitive nature of the paid search opportunities under the personal injury umbrella, online advertising can be costly. According to a 2012 report by the Institute for Legal Reform titled "The Plaintiffs' Bar Goes Digital: An Analysis of the Digital Marketing Efforts of Plaintiffs' Attorneys & Litigation Firms," more than 800 firms actively spend on Google keyword advertising, with at least 25 firms spending more than $100,000 annually with Google. A conservative estimate finds that in a given 12-month period, these 800 firms will spend more
5 than $50 million on Google-keyword advertising alone. And, terms that are significant in the personal injury realm, like "mesothelioma", can cost as much as $80 a click on Google. While pay-per-click campaigns may appear costly on the surface, they can still be used to great effect, especially if you are in a smaller market. If you practice personal injury law in Greenbow, Alabama, you are less likely to pay a premium for CPC advertising. And, like all advertising campaigns, pay-per-click campaigns must be closely monitored for conversion rates and click fraud. If someone from China is clicking your ad at 3:00AM, they are not likely looking for your services. CPC advertising is not the only online game. There are many ways of targeting local audiences in an extremely cost-effective way. Content-driven personal injury advertising is a great way to reach potential clients both via search engines like Google and now on social media sites like Facebook. Advertising is run based on the content of the user s search or post. Run-of-site and other advertising campaigns with local newspaper, television, and radio websites are also very cost-effective ways to reach your audience. These online campaigns are often packaged with print or air-time advertising, making a bulk purchase a good option for a firm wishing to make the most of its budget. Social Media: New Territory for Advertising Legal Services Social media is the wild west of media and marketing, but it is the most cost-effective and personal way to reach your audience. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and even Pinterest are useful and worthy tools for communicating your message. A great social media strategy can promote your value to potential clients and reinforce your brand to referral sources. Thousands of personal injury law firms across the country are taking advantage of this relatively low-cost marketing option. According to the Institute for Legal Reform study, trial law firms are "devoting millions of dollars to the creation and maintenance of websites, Facebook pages, Twitter handles, blogs and YouTube channels. Like all other marketing initiatives, social media must follow a strict and specific strategy. Otherwise, your contributions via social media just become more noise to the masses. Relationship building takes times. Effective communication tactics in the social media realm are not acquired overnight. And, social media done poorly can actually cost you; it can diminish your brand, destroy your reputation, and cause potential clients to go in search of a savvier firm. Making Legal Media Strategy Painless So, how do you decide where to spend your budget? If your advertising and marketing programs are not managed and monitored correctly, there is simply no way to evaluate the effectiveness of each outreach vehicle. Good strategy is important, whether you are in the courtroom, the mediation table, or designing a marketing plan. Capitol Media Solutions is an award-winning media buying agency serving personal injury attorneys with customized legal media buying strategies. Our expertise and experience will grow your client base with cutting edge targeted legal marketing plans that are personalized to reach your best prospects.
6 Our team tailors traditional and digital media buying strategies to your goals. We focus on getting your message to the widest audience possible, while staying within your budget. Our vast resource networks offer a variety of multimedia platforms to spread your message. Our experience in legal media buying provides us negotiating power and relationships, which offer savings we can pass on to you. Media Strategies for Personal Injury Lawyers Who Specialize In: Auto Accidents Slip and Fall Dog Bites Burns Product Liability Medical Negligence/Malpractice Workplace Injuries CMS Legal Media Services: Media Buying and Ad placement Media Planning Media Strategy Traditional Advertising Digital Advertising Marketing Research and Analytics Campaign Monitoring Contact us today and let our team craft a winning media strategy for your firm. We take the pain out of personal injury advertising.