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Lawyer Tv Commercials: Reaping The RewardsBy Expert Author: Stam Bett
Once upon a time, legal advertising was a controversial idea at best – and categorically banned at worst. However, the landmark Bates v. State Bar of Arizona case upheld the right of lawyers to advertise their services, striking down the ban and opening for doors for attorneys across the nation to take advantage of advertising. Today, legal advertising – including lawyer TV commercials – is still looked on with skepticism by many who believe it “cheapens the profession” to treat legal services like products to sell, but as the legal market becomes more competitive with each passing year, legal advertising has evolved from simply a way for lawyers to promote their practices into a matter of survival.
Nowadays, it’s not considered wrong or even unusual to think of the legal profession as an industry. Whether you entered the field with the intention of righting wrongs or simply earning a living, the survival of your practice depends on having a continuous caseload: good intentions alone won’t pay the bills, and if you don’t actively work to attract clients, you’ll soon find yourself taking down your shingle. Being business-minded doesn’t mean you have to see your clients as a resource to be exploited, either: on the contrary, treating your clients as people instead of potential paychecks is vital to ensuring the success of your practice. What it does mean is that you need to think of your actions in terms of their financial impact on your practice – and while lawyer TV commercials can indeed be a costly investment, the returns can be well worth the impact on your budget.
So why lawyer TV commercials? After all, the Internet is the “in” thing right now, and most people these days have DVR boxes that let them skip commercials. That’s what the naysayers would have you believe, anyway, but it’s far from the actual case: 97% of American households still rely on television for information and entertainment, and while DVR boxes are indeed commonplace in this day and age, most people don’t use their “commercial skip” features –until someone invents time travel, there’s no way to skip over commercials in a live broadcast! TV still reigns supreme as the king of advertising media, and if executed properly, TV advertising can catapult a complete unknown into national recognition practically overnight. Some practices that once operated only in their own states have even used the power of television to expand nationwide!
Of course, like any kind of advertising, there are rules and regulations in place with regard to legal advertising – more so than usual, in fact. If you plan on advertising in multiple states, your advertising needs to observe the laws of each individual state. Another thing to consider is that while many commercials succeed by being the funniest or the flashiest or even the most outrageous, there are some things you just can’t do with legal advertising and still expect the results you want. People generally don’t like seeing their potentially life-changing issues trivialized or outright made fun of: if you try to drum up business by using jingles, jokes, and silly skits, your prospective clients will take their cases elsewhere. Instead of trying to entertain your potential clients, you should try to educate them about the issues you can help them with – violations of their legal rights, injuries caused by defective products, and so forth. Taking a more PSA-like approach is not only a good way to bring in clients, but it can also help improve public opinion of the legal profession as a whole.
Before you take your first step into legal advertising, there’s one last thing you need to deal with: making sure you’re ready to handle the influx of new clients. Poor service reflects badly on your practice: if you don’t have the staff to take care of all the calls you’re going to receive, all your lawyer TV commercials are going to accomplish is highlighting how unready you are for the big time. A good way to mitigate this issue is by setting up a professional-looking website to provide more information: there’s only so much you can say in a 30-to-60-second TV spot, after all. Once you’ve handled enough inquiries to determine what information your clients are most interested in, you can post an FAQ (“Frequently Asked Questions”) to your site to help visitors find what they need more easily. Giving your potential clients multiple options for finding the answers they’re looking for will improve the odds that they’ll actually hire you to take their cases.
At this point, you know everything you need to get started with legal advertising – but even so, you might not be confident in your ability to follow this advice to the letter. That’s okay: there’s help available if you know where to look. Try hiring an advertising agency that specializes in legal marketing, preferably one that’s affiliated with major legal associations: the knowledge and expertise they can provide will help you avoid newcomer mistakes and get the absolute most out of your TV advertising.
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