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Network Affiliates Inc Legal Blog

Today we’ve lined up two spots that Network Affiliates has produced for our clients. We’d like you to take a look at these and then jot down a two-column list of what elements were effective and ineffective in these commercials.

As you watch the videos, consider the following questions:

  1. What was my gut reaction? Did I feel the message was amateur, cheesy, condescending, complex, etc.?
  2. How clear was the overall message?
  3. Could I remember the name or phone number of the law firm?
  4. What sounds and images stuck in my mind the most?
  5. What were a few things that made certain firms stand out from the rest?
First up is this commercial we produced for the Mani, Ellis & Layne Called "Shattered." Nearly a year in the making, “Shattered” is a testament to where a big idea can take lawyers who are willing to do the due diligence. After you view it, jot down a short list of what you liked (or didn’t like) about the ad, and why you think it was (or wasn’t) effective.

 

Shattered:

 
Next, take a look at this commercial we produced for Brown & Crouppen. We think you’ll see that this is a legal ad that works for a variety of reasons. Again, after you view it, jot down a short list of what you liked (or didn’t like) about the ad, and why you think it was (or wasn’t) effective. 

 

Brown & Crouppen Spot:

 
Done watching? Before we give you our reasoning, see if you can pinpoint the No. 1 reason why these two ads have been so successful in today’s marketplace. 

Here’s our take:

“I think the biggest thing missing from [typical legal ads] is a story. Most are centered around the lawyer or law firm: how good they are, their experience, the results they get, their awards. Rarely do legal ads engage viewers with emotion and storytelling. . . Of course the law firm is the answer, but we don't spend 30 seconds saying that. There are enough lawyers talking to the camera, standing in front of bookcases. What resonates and becomes memorable are commercials that engage the viewer on an emotional level.”

    - Jeff Feierstein, Vice President Production Services for Network Affiliates.

 
Thinking about your next commercial? See how Network Affiliates can help you can take it to the next level.

 

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 10:47
Legal Marketing

 

Internet marketing is getting more multi-dimensional by the day. But before you get too distracted by the latest trends and fascinating fads, it’s important to take a survey of what’s working on the Web and what’s not. Get a gauge of where you’re ahead of the curve and where you’ve fallen behind

Website wisdom: You’ve finally implemented a dynamic, modern website designed for intake, but is it properly optimized? Here are a few questions to ask: 

  • Are your social media links, blog and videos engaging clients, growing your legal network and driving new business?
  • Are you leveraging Google Analytics to track real-time statistics on site visitors and page traffic and market around that data?
  • How many leads is your web presence actually generating and how are you following up and closing on those? 

Mobile magic: Even if your website is working well, ensure that it’s optimized for the small screen. After all, clients are spending more and more of their time on smartphones. Here are a few places to start:  

  • Mobile marketing may feel like a separate strategy, but it should be increasingly integrated with your overall marketing mix. Engage with an agency that understands how to make your attorneys look good, even in a “mini” format. 
  • Are your marketing messages and campaigns working seamlessly across every type of screen (laptop, TV, smartphone, tablet, etc.)? Your goal should be to maintain a consistent brand identity while delivering an engaging experience that’s appropriate for each channel. 
  • With the integration of social media via mobile, social communication is instantaneous and your law firm is essentially open 24/7. Make sure that how you talk to clients fits the medium of delivery.

By being proactive about a broader Internet marketing strategy, your firm will quickly show clients you understand their increasingly mobile lifestyles, identify new Internet intake opportunities and position your practice as a leader in your space. The legal industry is simply too competitive to sit back and watch. Stay ahead and stay profitable. 

 

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 09:29
Internet Marketing

When you want to return a product, do you want to talk to the marketing department or customer service? You want a direct line to the person most trained to answer your exact questions; the person who will listen and even commiserate with your frustrations about the product; the person who can facilitate returning your misfit item and reimbursing your money in the most efficient way possible. 

Well, the same principle applies to taking in new cases at a law firm. Prospective clients don’t want to talk to a busy, preoccupied lawyer who’s deep in the research required to prepare a case. People with problems that feel very real to them—whether the predicaments turn into viable cases or not—want to talk to a qualified legal intake specialist who knows how to empathize. They want a lifeline—a person who quickly acknowledges stress and identifies with overwhelming emotions.  
 
Often attorneys believe that they can handle it all—from intake to marketing to lawyer-ing. But like any other business, in order to effectively service customers and build a successful organization, the experts in each line of work must handle these specialized functions. That means lawyers interpret the law. Intake specialists negotiate the calls. Marketing firms create brand strategy
 
Your firm will find the quickest path to success if leadership delegates functions to the right people. Your brand counts on it. If you market your law practice as a dedicated advocate for accident victims, for example, your attorneys better be spending a large majority of their time preparing cases, negotiating settlements and trying cases in court. Not answering the phones. Not trying to qualify a case. Not designing the website. Not writing marketing copy.
 
After more than three decades of providing marketing and advertising expertise to firms across the country, we know that lawyers who try to do it all or micro-manage other executive functions ultimately fail. Heed our advice. Use it as a catalyst to get the right people in place before it’s too late. Need help organizing your firm’s functions and marketing strategies? Give Network Affiliates a call today for a complimentary evaluation. 

 

Mon, 02/17/2014 - 11:11
Intake

We recently touched on an important part of solid marketing strategy; knowing what you’re asking for. Take an honest look at whether the ever-popular but ever-ineffectual “speed and greed” approach is really working. It might be time to step back and look at the big picture. 

While running bold, call-to-action TV commercials with the goal of obtaining as many quick-settlement cases as possible may sound like a sensible business strategy, what you might find is that most of those leads either don’t pan out or are so low-value that they actually undercut revenue in the long run. Plus as clients get smarter, using the Internet to do their homework and weigh their vast legal options, short-term-gain ads and tactics are not keeping law firms in practice long.  

After more than 32 years of helping lawyers market their practices, we’ve found that a smarter long-term plan is to build a multi-pronged marketing strategy around obtaining quality, high-value, big-referral cases that deliver reliable results for both the client and the practice.  
 
To gauge where you are on the value scale, start by asking these questions:
 
  1. What is our current reputation in the marketplace?
  2. Is our firm known for high-quality or high-turnover settlements? 
  3. Are we leaving too much on the table with a churn-and-burn approach?
  4. Are we really prepared to take cases to trial like we say we are?
  5. Are we offering cookie-cutter law or something more specialized?
 
Getting real and asking tough questions is the first step in developing smarter strategic marketing. The bottom line is law will always be about the money—how much can you get for a client and how much will you charge to get it. But by positioning your legal services as a cheap commodity, you are devaluing the importance of the services you provide to the community. Instead, start to focus on marketing tactics that help your firm:
 
  • Position how unique you are in your legal niche or specific market
  • Demonstrate how you can solve a specific problem for a client in need
  • Build on valuable referrals from past clients and your professional network
  • Prove your lawyers’ integrity, confidence, approachability and transparency 
  • Build deeper, lasting relationships with clients 
 
Start to think of your firm like the best brands. You don’t have to be the Neiman Marcus of your market, but maybe you can start to provide Nordstrom-quality service. The kind that puts the clients’ needs first. The kind that stands out among the competition. The kind that pays off in the end.  The kind that you would want.  The kind that truly gets you referral business.  The fact of the matter is - your clients truly do not know if they received a great settlement or not.  They do know how they were treated.  That is a fact!
Mon, 02/03/2014 - 10:16
Branding, Legal Marketing

Marketing a law firm is no different than positioning any other professional services business. You need a strategy. It's not uncommon to try to "wing it" by designing low-budget brochures after-hours, or assigning a receptionist the daunting task of keeping up with the firm's website. But while you might have skated through with that approach in the past, increasing your caseload ever so slightly but not knowing how, the reality is that kind of scattered marketing approach is no longer viable in today's sophisticated, crowded market. 

With the introduction of social and mobile platforms, plus increasingly tech-savvy clients, law firms have to market from every angle from TV advertising, to direct mail and internet-tracked eCRM campaigns — to reach customers consistently. Here's your wake-up call: You can't handle this alone, even with paralegals pitching in. Plus, shouldn't your employees focus on what they do best, converting the leads that do come in? Marketing a law firm carries a new level of complexity best handled by an agency, preferably with legal expertise, that knows how to leverage every new and changing facet of marketing and advertising.

Now that you know it's imperative to have a marketing expert as a partner, you can start the rewarding part; creating a strategy to maximize your advertising budget. While we know TV advertising is still the biggest bang for your buck, you can stretch your marketing money in some very creative ways these days thanks to the relative affordability of Web-based marketing tools.

Here's how to begin thinking strategically when it comes to marketing your legal brand:

  1. Learn your market. Task your marketing experts with finding out out everything about the competition and how your firm fits in -- and therefore, can stand out -- in your specific legal or regional niche.
  2. Identify your audiences. Do you really know to whom you're marketing? Is your current message truly tailored to those people? Are there some "fringe" client bases you've left out and could target better? 
  3. Know what you are asking for. It sounds simple, but if you are trying to compete by selling "speed and greed" law, you are going to get exactly that: an of quick, low-value cases. Consider how that approach may undercut your revenue in the long run. 

Formulate a plan based on real data about your market and competition, learn as much as you can about your target audiences, and tailor a message to get exactly what you're asking for -- quality, high-value cases based on relationships that lead to referrals.

Once you've worked with a marketing strategist on these core elements, your firm can quickly get on a predetermined path to success. It doesn't mean things can't change. Be flexible about tweaking tactics as you go, but hone in from an initial strategy. You can't go wrong if you start from the right place. We would be happy to evaluate your advertising, confidentially and constructively. Network Affiliates has been in the Lawyer Marketing game since 1981. We currently represent over 90 law firms around the country

We believe the value of the case is everything, what do you have to lose?

 

 

Tue, 01/21/2014 - 09:22
Legal Marketing

Sometimes we put our heads down and dig into business so deeply that we forget to come up for air—and really look around at the competition. But one of the best marketing strategies out there is surveying your competitors. 

While imperative to learning how to compete successfully for a particular pool of clients, especially in the oversaturated legal industry, competitive analysis isn’t always at our fingertips. 
 
Often, attorneys don’t have the time or tools to research and truly understand what other players in the market are doing and how it impacts business. It takes a lot more than catching a competitor’s commercial after-hours. Outsourcing this fundamental analysis to an agency can take the burden off your firm -- ensuring you get the most informed data possible to help position yourself in an aggressive marketplace. 
 
Marketing strategists can survey the entire legal landscape in a specific market using special digital data aggregators that can uncover both the creative initiatives and media buys of your direct competitors. Savvy media buyers can see not only how much the competition is spending, but how and where they are putting their dollars to work. Beyond TV, digital analysts can watch websites, monitor blogs, email campaigns, PPC efforts, social networking and just about any other marketing effort with a digital tentacle. 
 
Having that kind of data in your hands will make your marketing efforts that much more efficient and, ideally, effective. It helps you target your marketing spend. When you know what the competitor is saying, it helps you to make your message stand out and resonate in a way that others have yet to achieve. And it teaches you exactly what’s working in your marketplace and what’s not. 
 
Here are some other ways we can watch our competitors:
 
  • Visit competitors’ websites and see what appeals to you and what doesn’t
  • Ask a friend outside the legal industry to watch a few competitors’ commercials and give you honest feedback
  • Become a customer and investigate just how quickly the competition responds to an initial inquiry and what kind of follow-up they provide
  • Keep a log of good things you see in the marketplace, from a helpful free trail to great customer service, and consider ways to incorporate similar tactics at your own firm
  • Likewise, track the mistakes competitors are making to ensure your firm avoids these at all costs (to your marketing budget)

Knowing the competition is critical to an effective marketing strategy. But the first step is having the right people and tools in place to help you apply what you learn along the way.

 

 

Mon, 01/06/2014 - 16:34
Legal Marketing

Remember the last time you called customer service? Then got sent to someone overseas? That was irritating. Well, the same applies to the intake administrator for your law firm. Whether you have a large operation or one person sitting at a desk, how you take you call-in leads—and turn them into profit—matters.

If you don’t have a strategy for how you handle random and strategic leads that come by phone, now is a great time to design a plan. For it’s often he or she who answers the questions best who gets the case.

First, consider whether or not your intake ambassador needs a script. For firms that have the luxury of employing someone who knows the business intimately and can conversationally qualify a client, this might not be necessary. For other practices, you might have found a warm and approachable intake expert that’s not quite up to speed on kinds of clients that would make a great fit.

Both scenarios require some oversight. A script or questionnaire can be a helpful aid for a person with the voice but not the knowledge. In this case, sit down to draft a conversational script that will carefully and quickly explain your firm while qualifying the caller—without closing the door too quickly. Sometimes that extra question or two can turn a borderline case into a real client.

Even if your intake person is well versed in how to answer a variety of questions from callers, it can’t hurt to review this process. You never know if you could be getting more business. Consider taping intake conversations or even physically listening in on a regular basis to make sure your ambassador is asking all the questions you would were you taking to a potential client.  

Remember, you spend a lot of money pleading with people to call you. Don’t you think they deserve to have their expectations met when they finally do communicate with your firm? It’s your responsibility to connect the dots. After all, the person who makes your firm’s first impression can influence the decisions your clients make. Better hope they’re good ones.

 

 

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 15:38
Intake

When you walk into a store, are you more encouraged to buy if someone greets you with a smile and a simple “let me know how I can help you”? You might not have even thought about it, but the answer is most likely yes. The truth is customer service and customer experience matters in every business interaction.

The same applies to law firms. If you operate your organization like a business—which you should—then the first contact you have with a potential client is critical. These days that initial communicationdoesn’t typically take place in an office. Instead, it starts on the Internet.

Since people start by shopping around the “mall” of lawyers on the Web, your website needs to make an impact and engage customers. It’s your storefront. And your greeter is your live chat feature. If you don’t have a chat pop-up, now’s the time to incorporate one into your website. We know that this communication tool can increase intake conversions up to 30%.

One smart way to approach live chat is to revisit the store model. Don’t think of online communication as an impersonal robot that’s automated to answer generic questions. Treat your online greeter as a human. Give her a name. Task her with asking pointed questions that will not only help pre-qualify a case, but make the person on the other end feel valued and confident in his or her decision to reach out in the first place.

However, a smiling greeter with a friendly message and ability to answers questions is not enough to acquire cases. The key to converting is what your firm does with each individual Internet lead. Remember, every online lead is a potential relationship . Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • If your greeter is offline overnight, how fast do you get in touch the next morning?
  • How do you capture enough information without going too far and scaring people off?
  • How do you follow up once a lead qualifies—and where do you send customers who are not a fit for the firm?

These are just some of the questions worth answering when building a quality Internet intake strategy. Remember, even a 2% increase in conversions can have a huge impact on your bottom line!

 

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 13:39
Intake

Lawyers know TV spots still capture more eyeballs than ads sent through any other medium on the planet. The key to effective advertising on screen, however, is to make your message national caliber—one that rings a little louder, differently or more authentically.

It sounds simple, but when your law firm’s ad follows a heavily branded, visually tempting eye-catcher from let’s say Coca-Cola or another corporate giant, what you have to say needs to be even more distinct. You can’t afford to get drowned out by a big-bucks spot that happens to precede or follow your commercial. There’s only so much prime time—and you need a premier spot to capture your audience’s attention.

Advertising messaging—and all marketing messaging, for that matter—has always been about defining “who” you are (imagine your firm is a person) and “how” you do law differently (not what services you offer). Capturing that brand message in 60 seconds or less is a challenge. But having a team of legal marketing and advertising experts on your side can quickly help you toss out the generics, distill your message to its essence and frame it effectively enough to compete with national ads bookending your commercial.

When developing a new TV spot or re-shaping an existing message for a visually based medium, it’s helpful to include a few key ingredients. Start by asking these questions; the answers will stir up a recipe for success.

1. Are you saying what every other law firm is saying? Be honest.
2. What is one distinguishing attribute (brand message) your firm can hang its hat on?
3. Are you simplifying your message for TV or overloading viewers with information they can’t digest quick enough?
4. Are you actually getting what you’re asking for with a clear and effective call to action?
5. Is your production quality crisp—taking into account think like ideal lighting, high-quality voice over, impeccable grain, interesting graphics and optimal editing?

If you’re creative light bulb just flashed, that’s good news. You either have already one or just realized you need to find a full-service TV production partner that can help your firm craft a competitive legal advertisement from start to finish. It’s worth every dime—and it doesn’t have to take every one of them. Remember, when you’re going back-to-back with national ads, it’s not the time to take a backseat.

We would be happy to evaluate your advertising, confidentially and constructively. Please just give us a call. Network Affiliates has been in this Lawyer Marketing game since 1981. We currently represent over 90 Law Firms around the country.

What do you have to loose? We feel the value of the case you are trying to get is everything.

 

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 14:57
Legal Marketing

The best leads are referrals. They have higher conversion rates and better case values. Staying top of mind with past clients, building loyalty and giving people a reason to recommend your attorneys is smart marketing. Now is the time to start making sure the investment you made to generate past clients pays off.

Begin by going to your firm’s source of referral information—the database. For offices that are diligent about obtaining, tracking and updating client contact information, this is a goldmine ready to be tapped. For others with incomplete, outdated or mismanaged databases, this may be more challenging.

Before you can talk to past clients, you have to get your database in check. That means combing through old information to update data and creating a system to reliably record it going forward. Once your database is solid, ROI is just around the corner. Here are three ways database marketing can work wonders for referrals:

Consistency. If you want to be the top-of-mind law firm in your niche, you must touch current and former clients regularly with print and digital communication such as a monthly newsletter, email campaign and direct mail. But don’t just passively remind people of who you are, give them an incentive to call.

Relevancy. The key to making sure former clients even care that you’re there is to make messaging relevant. Remember, it’s not about your services; it’s about how your expertise can solve a client’s legal problem. Consider using specific pain-point topics, such as sports concussions or helmet use, for your legal niche.

Personalization. It’s human nature to want to feel acknowledged and worthy. When marketing to past clients, hit that sweet spot with personalized communication designed to build relationships. It’s as simple as sending a birthday card or a special message on the anniversary of case closing.

In real estate, it’s all about location. In law, it’s referrals, referrals, referrals. Mine your mountain of past clients—and watch conversions and case values soar.

We would be very happy to personally and confidentially walk you through this. In fact, I would be happy to do a complete evaluation of your current marketing efforts. Just call us, the legal marketing experts at Network Affiliates today at 888.887.5636 for a free evaluation of your current market and media plan.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:00
Referrals

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