Why does a lawyer need an advertising agency? Well, most lawyers don’t have the knowledge and expertise to create a marketing campaign for their services unaided. You may be knowledgeable about every aspect of your practice, but when it comes to marketing, advertising and promoting your services to the public, you need expert help. And while advertising professionals may be the ultimate marketing gurus, they need your help understanding who you are and what your goals and objectives are.
It’s Got to be a Partnership
The key for getting the most out of your advertising agency is for it to truly be a partnership. While every relationship is different, there are some basic things every agency is going to need from you in order to give you maximum effort and return on your investment. Here’s a list to get you started.
- What do you do? Explain the kind of legal services you want to sell.
- Who is your ideal client for these services? How old are they? Are they men or women? What is their average income? What are their education levels? What are their occupations? You know this better than anybody. The key is to lay out the ideal client you want by providing the information and then letting the ad agency zero in on those demographics.
- What are these clients like? What are the psychographics of your client? Do you know what their lifestyles are? What habits to they have? What are their hobbies and their interests? What are their political views? The more information you can give the agency about exactly who it is that will want your services, the better the agency can target your advertising to reach those people without wasting your ad dollars.
- What about timing? Is there any seasonality to your services? Are there certain months of the year when you need to boost your advertising efforts and other months when you need no advertising at all? I have found, for example, that more worker’s compensation claims are filed in the summer when construction is heavy, and more automobile accidents happen in the winter when the weather is bad. Be sure to share these kinds of observations with your agency.
- What have you done in the past? What kind of marketing have you done in the past and what did and did not work for you.
- What is your market’s geographic area? Are you covering just one county, are you in a whole TV market, or are you covering the whole state?
- What are your marketing goals and objectives? Clearly outlining what you are trying to do will aid the agency in directing your campaign.
- What are your advertising objectives and goals? Is your advertising objective to strengthen brand awareness? Build brand loyalty? Create top of mind awareness? Increase inbound telephone calls?
- How much are you prepared to spend? What is your advertising budget? While you may not like to provide a budget when dealing with a vendor, I think it is essential that your agency knows what kind of money you plan to spend to reach your goals. This will help them advise you on what is feasible and what is not. You’ll save a lot of time headaches and heartaches by doing this up front.
- Put someone in charge. You should have a single person in your law firm deal with ad agencies. You can have six people ride in the car, but only one can be the driver. Have only one driver in charge of your marketing. Give them control, back them up and if they cannot get the job done with the agency, replace them with another. Don’t try to manage the agency relationships with a committee! Committees slow everything down because everyone has their own opinion on every imaginable topic. Trying to get three or four lawyers to agree on any one thing is like trying to herd cats. It is just not possible.
- Listen to the agency’s advice. Do you like it when your client tells you how to practice law? Trust is important.
Good communication between you and the ad agency is crucial to the success of any campaign. For example, often lawyers want everything done yesterday, yet they don’t get back to the ad agencies when presented with ads and other materials to be approved before they can go forward. Later on, invariably, the lawyer blames the ad agency for slow progress when it was really their own fault for sitting on the materials way too long. To get where you need to go, you must work hard to achieve the highest level of communication possible.
Getting the most out of your ad agency is all about building a trusting relationship, a partnership that helps grow your practice. For this to happen, everyone has to pull their weight.
Ken Hardison is President of the Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing & Management Association (PILMMA), as well as Partner in Hardison & Cochran PLLC, a leading personal injury and disability law firm in Raleigh, NC. Ken will be speaking on the topic of working with advertising agencies at PILMMA’s Marketing and Management Summit in Las Vegas next month. You can reach him at Ken@pilmma.org or (800) 497-1890.
For information and to register for the PILMMA Fall 2011 Marketing and Management Summit to be held in Las Vegas, October 14-15, 2011, click here.