As a personal injury attorney, you’re probably no stranger to handling grief and emotional distress. Your clients are at a crossroads in their life that they’ve never anticipated – their physical and emotional health has suffered at the hands of another individual, they’re trying to anticipate how they’re going to cover medical expenses, lost wages, care for themselves and their family, while also trying to find a way to get justice for what happened to them.
You know the emotional investment involved in a personal injury case. However, what you might not know is that if you can tap into that emotion and tie it into your marketing, you’ll be able to drive a higher volume of clients to your office than ever before.
Now, I don’t mean that you should be capitalizing off of the emotional distress your clients are experiencing. In fact, I mean quite the opposite – rather than exploiting their distress, if you can empathize with their pain and offer encouragement and hope for the future, you’ll be addressing a pain point that fact-based, logic-driven messages can’t.
Emotion is a powerful psychological phenomenon, and it has a larger impact on decision making than you’d think. In fact, scientists have found that 90% of our decisions are driven by emotion. This contradicts the common assumption that smart, informed decisions come from a “cool head” — relying on logic alone is not the best way to make a decision, so it also isn’t the best way to encourage people to make decisions.
Instead, if you incorporate emotional messaging into your marketing strategy, you’ll make it easier for potential clients to make a decision. There are a few reasons for this:
- Emotion requires less effort than logic
It is easier for our brains to make emotional decisions than it is to make decisions founded on logic. Emotion is a subconscious experience; its role is to quickly evaluate and condense an experience to encourage action. What it lacks in precision, emotion compensates for in speed of response.
If your messaging ties in emotional language and buzzwords commonly associated with personal injury cases (not aggressive, experienced, or accomplished), potential clients will understand and react faster than they would if you had targeted them with a message that uses cold, fact-based language.
- The human brain is far more engaged by emotional storytelling than logical facts
Rachel Gillett of Fast Company has this to say about processing emotional stories and arguments: “When we read a story, not only do the language parts of our brains light up, but any other part of the brain that we would use if we were actually experiencing what we’re reading about becomes activated as well. What this means is that it’s far easier for us to remember stories than the cold hard facts because our brains make little distinction between an experience we are reading about and one that is actually happening.”
Imagine that you’ve recently been in a serious car accident and you’re searching for a personal injury attorney to represent you. You come across two attorneys in your area who both have 30+ years experience, millions of dollars in settlements, degrees from good schools, and a “determination to fight for you.”
You explore their websites, and find that Attorney #1 constantly emphasizes that they have decades of experience, a full staff of attorneys who will aggressively defend you, and only works on a contingency fee basis, so they don’t get paid unless you win.
Attorney #2 includes those things, but they’re not the highlight of the website. In fact, Attorney #2 included a legal brand video on their homepage that tells the story of how when they were a young child, their mother died in a car accident, and they grew up in a single parent home. They decided to go to law school to be able to defend people like their mother who lost their lives due to someone else’s negligence so no child would have to lose a parent and any hope for a secure, safe future.
When you’ve finished exploring these websites, which story are you going to remember?
Moreover — which attorney are you going to hire?
To really put the power of storytelling into perspective, check out the legal brand video we produced for PILMMA attorney Dirk Derrick and his team, based in South Carolina. Pay attention to how emotionally compelling the video is, and how the client testimonial story weaves into his firm’s unique value proposition.
- Our brains are wired to respond to emotional arguments, not logical arguments
Stanford marketing professor Jennifer Aaker explains the common misconception about this bifurcation: “When most people advocate for an idea we think of a compelling argument, a fact or a figure. But research shows that our brains are not hard-wired to understand logic or retain facts for very long. Our brains are wired to understand and retain stories.”
Humans are not logical creatures. Think about your dream car. Why do people get excited about Tesla’s, Porsches, and Jaguars? Why spend exponentially more money when a simple, practical Honda will get you from point A to point B for a fraction of the price?
It’s because buying a luxury car is an emotional decision. Though logically you know luxury cars have a lot of incredible features, the biggest underlying reason for buying one is because of the way it makes you feel.
Logic comes in for backup to rationalize the decision that you emotionally want to make. You buy that Tesla because it makes you feel like a rockstar, but justify the decision because it doesn’t use gas, is better for the environment, and comes with an array of other features that make your life easier.
“Without emotion, we are biologically incapable of making decisions. Logic is often the last step in the process,” says Janet Crawford, one of the world’s pioneers in applying neuroscience to business. We’re instinctively more likely to make an emotional decision and rationalize it later than we are to pause, reflect, and make a decision solely based on logic alone. In fact, advertising research shows that consumers’ emotional responses to an ad have a greater influence on an intent to purchase something than the content of the ad itself.
Applying the Power of Emotion to Your Personal Injury Firm
So once you get past all of the facts and figures concerning the power of emotion in decision making, what are we left with?
Emotion allows us to process, retain, and respond to information faster than logic alone. It is a powerful tool to use in your marketing, if implemented properly. Here are some tips for incorporating the power of emotion in your marketing:
Be Intentional With Your Messaging
Copywriting professional Brian Clark, who’s dedicated his career to crafting persuasive messages, is quoted in saying: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is determined by the level of emotional identification that word prompts. In other words, the right emotional trigger words take the same basic message to all new heights.”
Successful marketing relies heavily on the right messaging, and the right messaging relies on your ability to choose the right words.
This means being intentional with your messaging and incorporating language into your advertisements that elicit emotions like hope, optimism, comfort, and trust. Advertisements for personal injury firms can be tricky because platforms like Facebook prevent you from using language that explicitly mentions bodily harm or injury.
So while you can’t say, “Have you been injured in a car accident?”, you can use messaging like, “The weeks and months following an unforeseen incident can leave you feeling stressed, scared, and alone. The team at Loyal Law Group is here to ensure that your future and your finances are protected, so you can get back to enjoying your life.”
You identify a pain point, you use emotional trigger words associated with personal injuries like stressed, worried, scared, confused, and you incorporate intentional messaging that alleviates those negative emotions.
Offer an Emotional Benefit, Not Just a Logical Benefit
Many personal injury attorneys make the mistake of only highlighting the financial compensation they can get their clients. While this could influence their decision, ultimately, appealing to a potential client’s emotions rather than their wallets will make for a more impactful connection and a stronger loyalty to your firm. Every billboard and radio ad emphasizes how Joe Law can get you thousands of dollars in compensation.
What Joe Law neglects to emphasize is how he establishes long lasting relationships with his clients long after the trial is over, ensures that every question a client has is answered thoroughly, and strives to be constantly available whenever a client calls. These are emotional benefits, but they’ll do wonders in establishing trust and credibility with potential clients.
To return back to the Derrick Law Firm team, they produced a client testimonial video that emphasized the emotional benefits his firm was able to offer the client, including a comforting, supportive environment and the ability to get back to doing what he loved: riding motorcycles.
Don’t Ignore Logic
Though it may seem counterintuitive after reading the majority of this article, you cannot neglect to address the logical parts of the human brain in your messaging. That means that while your messaging can include emotional calls-to-action, intimate stories and personal connections, you have to be able to back it up. Therefore, when a potential client goes to your site or calls your firm, they’re able to later rationalize their emotional decision with logical information. So, don’t erase all of your years of experience from your website in favor of emotional stories. Rather, use emotion and logic as complementary tools to achieve the same result.
Once you accept that emotions are a driving force in decision making and persuasion, you can begin to use these strategies to tweak your current marketing and increase conversions. Ultimately, though, you must first determine what emotions drive your audience. When those are identified and incorporated into your messaging, you can start seeing real results.
If you’re interested in learning more about how legal video marketing can help you tap into the power of emotional messaging, please feel free to reach out to our team. We’d be happy to strategize with you.
Michael Mogill is the Founder and CEO of Crisp Video Group, a national legal video marketing company that produces high-quality and engaging legal videos for attorneys all over the country. Crisp Video is consistently recognized for creating engaging legal videos that help attorneys see a 2 to 10 times increase in average case values. By simply bringing in higher-value cases, attorneys who produce videos with Crisp Video see an average return on investment of 300% and routinely double and triple their revenue — sometimes within just 6 months. He has been featured in Forbes, Avvo, ABA, PILMMA, The Huffington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.