When TV was the primary marketing engine, viewers saw your law firm’s TV ad and called the number.
Today, if prospective clients are even tuned in, they are probably multitasking on a second screen (often a smartphone).
What does this mean for the future of legal advertising? Well, quite the opposite of the consumer trend: You’ve got to pay attention.
A cultural shift tied directly to emerging digital technology, consumer TV viewing behavior is changing—dramatically. People consume massive amounts of information in small snack-sized bites, at the tips of their fingers, all day long. You might know a little something about this. We’d guess your own attorneys engage in these habits before, after or even at work!
The truth is there’s nothing businesses and brands (advertisers) can do to make the first screen the most dominant again. That ship sailed when traditional TV viewership—through cable, satellite connection or antenna—peaked during the 2009-10 season, according to Nielsen.
There is something law firms can do to get ahead in marketing to potential clients who have increasingly competing interests: Pay attention to trends. For law firms advertising on television, a consumer trend toward higher second-screen consumption means two very important things:
TV viewers are more distracted or tempted by mobile devices, tablets and other second screens. They use them regularly to check email, shop online, play games, engage in social networks and surf the Internet.
Smartphones and tablets are pervasive, with 64% of Americans owning a smartphone of some kind. Tablet use is also approaching a majority. It follows that disruptive technology like Internet-enabled devices will inevitably compete in some capacity with television viewership.
Data from Nielsen shows second screens may be doing a more than distracting people. Second screens may be biting into first-screen viewing as more people stream programs on mobile devices rather than watching them on TV. A combination in more quality Internet-based programming, as well as savvy consumers realizing price-per-use may not add up any more on the first screen, may be to blame for this change.
This idea lines up with Nielsen’s finding that among a younger generation—18-to-34-year-olds—TV viewing alone has fallen by 10 percent. Whatever viewers are using their devices for, we know this behavior requires that any advertising on TV—still considered a highly efficient and effective medium—must be more strategic than ever. If, as an effect of the new consumer “multitasking mindset,” TV is increasingly shifting into the background “lull,” your law firm advertising had better jump off that first screen in a compelling way that will make distracted viewers do what you’ve got to do right now: Pay attention.
Another effect: Viewers can instantly research your law firm online. In just seconds, a person can check the legitimacy of your lawyers and make a snap judgment about your legal team in one quick click to your website. The same viewers might also hit a snag along the way, such as an unfavorable review that happens to show up high on the first page of search results, or a competing firm in the same market that looks too similar to your brand or ranks better than your website or social presence.
If you’re paying attention to this on-demand consumer behavior, it means your brand needs to pay off your law firm’s marketing by looking and sounding consistent on every online platform you engage in, from your website’s blog to your Facebook account. Likewise, it would be smart to start get your ducks in a row in terms of search engine optimization, reputation management and social media if you want to capture those eyeballs up-close, keep them tune in and convert them to paying cases.
In law firm marketing we call this strategy an integrated approach. It’s an overused term that just happens to be right on the money. If viewers are changing how and when they consume information, advertisers must deliver that information with a strategic, consistent presence. If most Americans are doing something on other devices while half-heartedly watching television, wouldn’t it pay to be wherever they might be looking?
Legal advertising is increasingly a balance of presence, precision and provision. To find success with an integrated campaign, attorneys need to be everywhere they can have a brand presence; in the satellite and online spaces we know consumers spend time in most; and in control of experimenting with low-risk tests to fine-tune the art of advertising.
As prospective clients become more distracted and more tempted away from the first screen, yet still powerfully connected to instant decision-making information online, the opportunities to do something original in law firm advertising becomes the ultimate challenge.
If nothing else, you need to task an advertising agency with creating TV spots—and a brand foundation—that articulates your law firm’s distinguishing characteristics and grabs attention. Today’s advertising must be clever, compelling, and more captivating than ever before.
Need more ideas for connecting your TV commercials with users on a second screen? Network Affiliates has expert media strategists to handle all your advertising needs. Call (888) 461-1016 today!