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Attorney Television Advertising: Getting Your Clients’ Attention

By Expert Author: Stam Bett

Even over 35 years after the landmark Bates v. State Bar of Arizona case, which upheld lawyers’ right to advertise their services, attorney television advertising is still a controversial subject. It’s undeniable that TV advertising can work the same way for lawyers as it does for any other business – establishing recognition, bringing in clients –but trying to implement TV advertising in the exact same way as other businesses typically ends in catastrophe.Many lawyers have tried to break the mold with TV commercials designed to entertain prospective clients, but while these have indeed gotten attention, it’s been of the “scathing criticism” variety: no one wants a clown representing them in court.

Still, attorney television advertising is widespread enough that someone somewhere must be doing something right – or else lawyers would have given up on it long ago. When you take into account all the rules and restrictions surrounding legal advertising, not to mention the aforementioned minefield of your audience’s potential reactions, producing effective attorney television advertising can seem like one of the Labors of Hercules – but Hercules achieved these famous feats using his mind as well as his muscles, and with that same degree of cleverness, you can achieve this task as well. Just keep these helpful hints in mind:

• Focus on your target audience. As much as you might like to be all things to all people, the fact remains that only a limited audience is ever goingto make use of your services – working-class adults, in most cases. You can both save money and get better results by targeting your attorney television advertising to this particular demographic and airing it during time slots when they’re likely to be watching.
• Track your TV advertisements. Take advantage of direct response marketing: include a special phone number or web address in your commercial’s call to action and track the number of calls or website visits you receive through them. This way, you can tell exactly how many responses your advertising produces. If you have multiple ads, use a different phone number or web address in each one so you can track their effectiveness individually.
• Prepare for a long-term campaign.TV advertising is at its most effective when aired repeatedly on a long-term basis. Treat the first few weeks as a testing period: if your ad doesn’t give you the results you want during that time, you should pull the plug and try something different. You might have a good ad in the wrong timeslot, or a good timeslot with the wrong ad in it – the important thing is making sure your ad works before you commit to a long-term campaign. An advertising agency that specializes in legal advertising can help you figure out what your ad is missing.
• Take your ad seriously.It bears repeating: no one wants a clown representing them in court. Jokes, jingles, and silly skits might sell fast food or used cars, but your prospective clients won’t appreciate having their potentially life-changing legal situations used as a punchline. The legal industry is a crowded field, but there are ways to stand out from your competition without making a fool of yourself.
• Educate your viewers.The secret to legal advertising isn’t to pander, but rather to inform. Many prospective clients are unaware that their legal rights are being violated or that they have legal recourse for their troubles: your commercial can change that. Rather than delivering a sales pitch (or a stupid joke), you can use your 30 seconds of airtime to educate your audience about the kinds of legal situations you can help them with – situations they might be in right now without even knowing it. People will be more likely to remember you if they actually learn something from your commercial, and better still, they’ll recognize you as an expert in your particular field of legal practice.

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