From July 2018-June 2019, auto/personal injury attorneys in the United States spent close to $735,500,000 on advertising. If you add in other single event and mass tort practice areas, the amount is most likely to be over $1 billion in total spend. Attorneys spend a significant amount of their budgets on marketing. If you’re working with an outside agency or considering working with one, you want to make sure you’re getting the best return for your investment. It’s time to size up your agency. What are some red flags to avoid?
Red Flag #1: Set It and Forget It
Some agencies operate by buying media once a year, using long-term contracts. They run the same creative or rotate spots in the same schedule for the entire year. This is a branding strategy and used mostly by companies not measuring their costs of response, leads or cases. They’ll check in once in a while, but they essentially set it and forget it. You may assume your campaigns are bringing in at least some cases. However, you have little to no idea if a particular approach is meeting your objectives. Even if you believe a particular creative or media buying approach isn’t bringing you phone calls or responses, you don’t know that anyone in your agency is making any changes accordingly.
In a competitive market where you’re trying to increase your case load and at a cost that makes sense, you need to direct your spending strategically. If you’re leaving the meter running without results, you’re not keeping your firm competitive in the marketplace.
Red Flag #2: Your Agency is Using Gross Ratings Points (GRPs) or Reach and Frequency
If your agency is wedded to using strategies like Gross Ratings Points or Reach and Frequency to buy your media, you may be missing out. GRPs measure impressions in relation to the number of people in the target for your campaign. Reach and frequency relates to the number of people who are exposed to your message or ad, as well as the number of times your audience sees the message or ad. These media buying strategies were also created for brand marketers like Walmart or local car dealers. They are effective at reaching all demographics but not as effective if your objective is targeting a cost metric, such as cost per call, cost per lead or cost per retained client. This “shotgun” approach to media buying becomes highly inefficient when you want to improve performance.
One main problem with the “shotgun” approach is it’s impossible to target the consumers you want to reach because you’re throwing a blanket over the entire market. Once this method begins costing you too much per signed case, it’s difficult to know which half of your campaigns are actually working and which half are not. This makes making changes very challenging.
Alternatively, if you set up your marketing initiatives with unique tracking features, even with a vanity 800 or local number, you can use the response data to make strategic changes quickly to optimize the marketing channels and media that bring you the most responses.
Red Flag #3: Your Firm Isn’t Tracking Your Phone Activity
In order to assess the effectiveness of campaigns, your agency needs to be tracking your phone activity to make sense of how your phone response data relates to the media you’re running. Ask your agency if someone is tracking your phone activity. If not, that’s Red Flag #3.
“Does your current agency monitor your phone activity?” This is always one of the first questions I ask when I am speaking to a firm looking to make an agency change. The follow-up question is, “What is your agency doing with this data?” The answers are not typically great from that point forward as I keep digging with more questions.
Your agency should be looking at where calls are coming in—and where they’re not. Laying out call attribution to media that is running is a MUST. This helps you see media airing vs. response. Even if you get calls from lots of other sources, the exercise of assigning calls to media is one key component of measuring overall response and making smart media changes.
Knowing which calls are turning into retained cases and the originating media is priceless and the data is there! Your agency should be analyzing this data and making weekly adjustments to your media schedule. By consistently applying changes, you optimize your media, redirecting your marketing dollars to increase your probability of success.
Red Flag #4: Your Agency Isn’t Changing Your Creative
Is your agency handling your creative with “set it and forget it” as their game plan? Is your agency continuously running the same spots or rotating between a few spots? To get the best results from your marketing, your agency should be adjusting and refreshing your creative approaches. Whether with radio, TV, outdoor or digital, continuing to produce creative that’s compelling and represents your firm accurately is a key piece of overall success. It’s critical that your agency is on top of this.
Red Flag #5: You Aren’t Sure About Your Agency’s Knowledge of Legal Marketing Ethics
The agency you use should always adhere to the highest standards of ethics and should know what they can and cannot do with regards to state bar rules on advertising. You need to verify that both the creative and claims are compliant with state bar rules and state regulations. Every state bar requires disclosure of the advertising firm, for example.
Ethics are everything and you need to protect your firm against non-compliant marketing. If you’re using a lead generator, you need to ensure that your lead generator is acting with the highest level of ethics and compliancy. Call and lead generation disclosure, as well as clarity, are essential.
There can be extensive penalties for violations or fraud, including financial penalties, often for each call or instance, loss of law license, and extensive defense costs. It’s important to take steps to avoid any problems and to ensure you’re working with an agency that operates with ethics and compliancy.
The Bottom Line
The agency you entrust to handle your marketing should not be operating on autopilot, set it and forget it. Your agency should be refreshing the creative, performing call attribution with the media, and using response data to make continuous adjustments to make sure you’re getting the most efficient results from your investment. In addition, the agency should be committed to acting according to the highest standards of ethics and transparency, as well as compliant with bar and state rules and regulations.
About Consumer Attorney Marketing Group
Steve Nober is the president and CEO of Consumer Attorney Marketing Group (CAMG), an advertising agency that works exclusively with law firms. CAMG delivers the full spectrum of media—TV, digital, print, out-of-home, and radio.
The agency’s response-driven marketing model applies data from tracking, as well as historic and media monitoring data, to analyze and optimize campaigns for efficiency, increasing probability of success and lowering case acquisition costs. CAMG is committed to the core values of ethics and transparency, maintaining the highest ethical standards in the industry.
About the author
Founder/CEO Consumer Attorney Marketing Group
Steve is a leader in the legal advertising and marketing arena, applying response-driven marketing and cutting-edge technology to the legal advertising space. He is a frequent speaker nationwide at industry conferences and events, as well as a frequent contributor to numerous legal industry publications.
Steve’s aim is to apply the best marketing practices that lead to the highest level of success for clients and with a transparent, ethical approach. He has made CAMG’s proprietary data available to the legal industry with the Legal Marketing Index® (LMI®) and reference guides. The LMI® includes detailed in-depth demographic information, spend data, heat maps, and additional up-to-date information for mass tort and single event practice areas.
Steve is a frequent contributor to PILMMA’s blog about law firm marketing.