The legal landscape has never been more competitive. Firms are expending more energy than ever on legal marketing and advertising, and it’s all just to stand out from the crowd.
It’s difficult, though, because lawyers aren’t exactly swimming in free time, nor did they sign up for a second career as a marketing professional.
Still, every law firm is a business, and it’s their business plan that paves a path for growth.
Today’s article is the second in a series outlining the current challenges in the legal advertising space. In Part I, we detailed the many internal challenges coming from within lawyers’ own profession.
Now, in Part II, we look at the external factors that are swiftly changing the whole market — especially for personal injury attorneys.
Network Affiliates is a team of legal marketing experts with decades of specific experience in this niche field. We dedicate ourselves to monitoring trends and zealously advancing our clients’ growth.
Below, we identify your firm’s biggest hurdles, and begin to unveil an effective legal marketing strategy — the very strategy we’ve customized for many of our clients to great success.
We believe your marketing needs to reflect the changing dynamics and new realities in PI. Among other things, that means advertising that appeals to Millennials — not always an easy task. In fact, the very nature of all your cases could be on the cusp of change.
Here’s what we mean:
Fewer Accidents, Lighter Injuries, Safer Vehicles
Cars are getting safer. NerdWallet recently profiled seven significant new-car safety features that are likely to improve driver and passenger safety. They include:
- Backup cameras
- Automatic emergency braking (“forward collision prevention”)
- Automatic parking
- Lane monitoring / lane departure warnings
- Alertness monitoring
- Blind-spot monitoring
Those developments, alongside better airbags and improved automotive body design, might be contributing to a downturn in accident injury claims.
Indeed, auto accidents are on the decline. With the exception of 2015 (a statistical outlier in which auto accidents went up, due in large part to texting and driving), NTSB charts a sharp decline in overall auto accidents in the U.S. over the last decade.
While many of these features have existed for several years, they are only now becoming standard. Accordingly, it’s probably too soon to say whether better car design is directly responsible for making the roads safer, but it’s undoubtedly a part of the bigger picture.
The Rise of Self-Driving Cars
According to the United Services Automobile Association (USAA), many of the industry’s newly standardized safety features are emerging out of the self-driving car movement, which is already rapidly developing in the United States.
Experts predict that 10,000,000 self-driving cars will be in active operation on U.S. roadways by the year 2020. The potential impact of that trend on the Personal Injury market can’t be overstated.
While self-driving cars haven’t yet established a foolproof safety record, the industry does forecast some 30,000 fewer automotive deaths each year — with potentially millions of other injuries either diminished or prevented altogether.
While that’s a very good thing for society, it also means the PI market needs to take proactive action now.
Millennials Are Changing Everything
Millennials have been the brunt of generational jokes for a long time, but soon enough, they’ll dominate your client base. Since they have a very different relationship with cars than the generations before them, that could mean big changes to your firm’s bottom line.
“There’s a lot of evidence that Millennials don’t drive as much — or care as much for cars in general — as previous generations their own age did,” The Washington Post writes in a recent report. “They’re less likely to get driver’s licenses. They tend to take fewer car trips, and when they do, those trips are shorter. They’re also more likely than older generations to get around by alternative means: by foot, by bike, or by transit.”
Similarly, Time has noted a consistent year-to-year decline in the number of young people obtaining state driver’s licenses.
Consider also that Millennials are staying at home with their parents for longer, meaning they’re less reliant on independent transportation. And once they leave the nest, they’re flocking to urban areas, where mass transit and other public transportation options predominate.
They’re using bicycles more than their parents ever did, they care more about “green living,” and they’re waiting later in life to have kids of their own – all factors pointing away from the car as a mainstay of American adulthood in the future. In short, Millennials are speaking a different cultural language, and “transportation” doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to them as it does to you.
If auto accident litigation is even one of your top five practice areas, this generational divide is something to take seriously.
Moreover, even outside of personal injury, Millennials show widespread skepticism toward traditional attorney marketing, as well as a preference for do-it-yourself online services like LegalZoom.
Knowing how to market to Millennials is an increasingly critical goal. It’s our belief that Millennial outreach and messaging should be a part of almost every marketing strategy for law firms.
Uber also occupies a sizeable chunk of the legal horizon, as ride sharing quickly eclipses traditional taxi services.
Coupled with Millennials’ preferences against private auto ownership, ride sharing could change the entire automotive market. Indeed, some experts even predict that Uber-like services will preclude the need for anyone to own a car in the future — we’ll all simply summon the nearest self-driving car with the click of a button (or so the theory goes).
A Future with Fewer Drivers
In the traditional business model, drivers are among the most loyal “customers” in the personal injury “industry.” While no one likes to think in such cynical terms — injuries are not commodities, after all — we do want to encourage lawyers to remember that even the noblest professions must mind their bottom lines.
There are major internal and external forces at work, and the writing on the wall spells “change” for law firms all across the country. These challenges are not insurmountable, and your business is not doomed. But it is wise to start taking strategic action to position yourself as the firm to corner the changing market. We can help you do that.
Network Affiliates: Leaders in Marketing Strategy for Law Firms
Network Affiliates is an industry leader in law firm marketing. We know how to position you against your biggest challenges and produce results. In fact, our agency produced the country’s very first lawyer television commercial. That’s how long we’ve been in the game!
We invite you to learn more about our marketing strategy for law firms by reading our two latest white papers:
- Tips on Reaching Hispanic Millennials in Your Market
- A Legal Advertising Survival Guide for PI Attorneys
Be sure to check back for our next article too, where we’ll offer even deeper insight into how you can overcome these and other challenges in today’s legal field.
Or, in the meantime, simply give us a call and ask how we can start helping you today. Call (888) 461-1016 or contact us online.