Legal Marketing Strategies – Going from Absolut to GEICO by Diversifying
Featured image courtesy of teamstickergiant licensed under creative commons.
This blog has previously covered many different types of advertising strategies for law firms. We have recommended everything from billboards and newsletters to websites, radio ads, phone books and legal directories. A core principle at DotCO Law Marketing is the belief that using multiple types of advertising simultaneously is the most crucial part of your marketing campaign. This is why we recommend that the advertising space that we sell is used to supplement other advertising strategies such as firm websites and legal directory listings.
The GEICO Model vs. The Absolut Model
For a long time, Absolut Vodka had an excellent advertising campaign. Their iconic ads by TBWA were simple, clever, and pervasive. They became part of pop culture and stayed there for years. For many people, the Absolut bottle was the first image that popped into their head when they thought of vodka. While those advertisements were top notch, they were mostly limited to print, especially magazines. As the internet became more widely used, and social media grew in popularity, Absolut did not adapt. While the brand still enjoys strong sales, today’s market would rather drink Grey Goose because it comes in a better looking bottle.
As Absolut’s marketing campaign was fizzling out, GEICO came out of nowhere, seemingly made of pure magic. Rather than having one solid line of commercials, they had many, often at the same time. GEICO commercials saturated print, billboards, television, radio, the internet, and, briefly, were the basis of a television series. On any one day, a consumer might hear a standard sounding radio commercial about 15 minutes saving them 15% on car insurance, walk past a billboard featuring a pile of money with eyes staring back, see a print ad involving a gecko, watch a television spot involving a caveman, and download a GEICO ringtone. GEICO has done an incredible job of making multiple campaigns and characters more recognizable than even a single campaign from some other insurance companies. Their advertising has paid off, and GEICO is now one of the largest insurers in the United States.
Applying This Lesson to Your Law Firm
Very few law firms are ever going to have multiple television campaigns running at once, and even fewer will ever have apps or ringtones, but there is still plenty to be learned from what GEICO has done. No one type of advertisement will be seen by every potential customer. Furthermore, different types of advertising work on different people. When your law firm is planning advertising strategies, as many methods of advertising as possible should be used. Whether you decide to use one binding theme in all of your ads or to mix things up with a combination of serious and humorous ads, the key is to put them in more than one place. Billboards are great. So are television and radio. Advertising on the internet is essential. However, in this age, it must be remembered that the internet is not just one thing. A great website is essential, but it must be supplemented. Whether you pay a search engine for advertising space, list your firm with a directory, advertise with DotCO, or all three, saturation is key. When someone searches for a lawyer online, they can only choose your firm if they see it. The more searches that return your firm’s name, the more potential clients you will have. If your name is everywhere, it will be seen eventually.
Most of the material on the internet concerning marketing is not specific to law firms. While there are many techniques that work universally, small and medium sized firms face a problem that many other companies do not. Their geographic scope is often quite restricted. Lawyers must actually be members of the bar in any state where they want clients. Logistically, it makes more sense for a lawyer to have local clients anyway. Keeping the client, the firm, the court and any other parties within driving distance cuts down on wasted time and costs. It is therefore in a law firm’s best interests to find local places to advertise, both in print and online.
Local Bar Association Publications
Many local Bar Associations publish a print or electronic newsletter on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. While the average person does not see these materials, other lawyers do. It is a way to get your name out there and recognized among your peers. This is especially useful for young lawyers who are trying to build connections to other lawyers in the community.
It sounds simple, but phone books are still incredibly important, especially among those without reliable access to the internet. Phone books are also inherently local, and therefore, more reliable in the minds of some potential customers than the internet. A half or full-page ad in a phone book serves as a tie to the community. It seems more permanent than online communications. Often, phone book companies also will distribute other materials for you. Nearly every phone book that comes to my house includes a magnet with a lawyer’s name, number, and picture on it. Many people will put that free magnet on their refrigerator. This means they see your name every day, and hopefully, it means they will call you when there is a problem.
Billboards, Radio, and TV
These options reach large audiences. They work through a scattershot approach. So many people see the advertisement that someone has to be interested. However, in the case of radio and tv, the advertisement is fleeting. Unless you have have an especially catchy jingle, potential clients are unlikely to remember your name or number. This can work if they are already searching for a lawyer, but these methods are only minimally helpful in attracting clients who don’t need your services yet. Furthermore, these forms of advertising can be expensive to run. Space or airtime must be purchased and the commercial must actually be filmed or recorded. These are time and money expenditures that many small law firms cannot afford.
Legal Directories show up well on search engines. Furthermore, they are tailored to local searches. For a moderate cost, you can get your firm’s name next to every other similar firm in your area.
Talk to court administrators
Many courts provide some type of directory of lawyers to prospective clients who ask for it. You won’t pick up large businesses as customers this way, but for younger lawyers, it can be a great way to build a general practice client base.
There are many options here. From local news sites run by newspapers, to more independent sites like Patch.com, every city tends to have at least one online place where locals congregate. Advertising on such a site can get great results while supporting community involvement. Some companies, such as DotCO Law Marketing, also offer advertising on websites tailored to your specific geographic location.
We are interested in hearing from you. Has your firm found other effective places to advertise locally? Have you tried newspapers or other local print publications? Do you rely on word of mouth? Have you given away promotional items at community or sporting events? Any other ideas that can help a young lawyer get their name out there? Feel free to respond in the comments, or on Twitter at @dotcolaw.
Featured image courtesy of Karen Apricot New Orleans licensed under creative commons.