Attorneys Advertising to Younger Generations Need a Completely Different Playbook

lawyer standing at desk

Between strict bar association rules and the general public’s skepticism toward attorneys as a whole, legal marketing has never been the easiest undertaking. And, as we’ve covered before, reaching Millennials is especially challenging.

So, if you’re running a law firm that advertises on television, we advise you to rethink your talking head strategy— especially if you care about clients under the age of 30.

Here’s why.

Younger generations have grown up surrounded by rapidly evolving technology and the creation of countless new media channels on a semi-regular basis. They are what we call “digital natives” and their understanding of advertising is unlike any other generation before them. They can spot conventional or contrived branding from a mile away, and they don’t like being “sold to.” Instead, Millennials respond to authenticity. They gravitate to service providers who they believe (A) tell the truth and (B) are in it for the right reasons.

Generally speaking, they see talking heads in TV ads as the equivalent of a carnival barker — just another person talking at them in the hopes of getting money. With decades of ardent television viewing behind them, they have grown immune to what was once an effective sales pitch.

So if you want to become the local law firm that your community’s Millennials trust, you need to speak to them from the heart.

Below, we explain why advertising doesn’t work when it’s disingenuous — and how you can revitalize your efforts by earnestly reaching out to Millennials.

If Not a Talking Head, Then What?

When choosing the spokesperson for your law firm, the easiest choice by far is simply to put your senior partner in front of the camera. As is so often the case in life, though, the easy path isn’t necessarily the wisest one.

It was only in 1977 that the U.S. Supreme Court opened television airwaves to attorneys for the first time, and law firms found early success with the old “talking head” strategy. In fact, Network Affiliates’ founder, Norton Frickey, was one of the first attorneys to deploy this strategy on TV; something he then helped other lawyers and law firms do across the country.  And, that’s when Network Affiliates was born.

However, as the legal advertising space has grown more crowded — and viewers have grown overexposed and more cynical — the old playbook has grown tattered and dated.

Today’s attorney advertising demands a more creative approach, and that means your firm’s spokesperson might need to do more than just talk. They need to set a tone, convey a personality, and take part in a story.

Ultimately, you’re looking for inspiring, engaging, and emotionally accessible conversationalists — dynamic and organic personalities who young audiences find themselves drawn to naturally.

There are no limits on what or who that might be: a lawyer, an actor, a client, a community member, a celebrity, or even a character.

In this example, we created an ad that relays a personal injury client’s narrative by way of narration, followed by a brief and personable call to action from a real attorney at the law firm (one of our clients) at the end. While the talking head appears, you can see that he isn’t the “star of the show.” The star here is the client:

The Traits of a Modern, Multifaceted Law Firm Messenger

While there is no “one size fits all” guide to choosing the right messenger for your firm, when it comes to Millennial advertising, there are at least a few traits to keep in mind:

  • Sincere passion for the law firm’s work and the pursuit of justice
  • Outside-the-box creativity
  • Subtle, subject-appropriate sense of humor (or irony)
  • Cool and calm under pressure
  • Reasonable
  • Honest
  • Never “salesy”
  • Is able to talk with the viewer and about the viewer (rather than talking at the viewer about the lawyer)

Whether it’s an on-screen personality or an off-screen narrator, you want to find a law firm messenger who resonates. The ultimate question is whether the viewers connect with the message.

If they do, you have a direct path toward growing your business, and that’s the whole point of legal advertising to begin with.

Millennial Advertising Is All About Authenticity

We talk a lot about authenticity in legal advertising, but what does that really mean?

It isn’t enough merely to adopt the appearance of authenticity. (That wouldn’t be very authentic at all!)

In addition to looking and sounding authentic, there also needs to be some proof in the proverbial pudding.

If your ad prompts a Millennial to visit your website, for instance, he or she needs to find at least two things there:

  • High-quality content that is consistent with the messaging and tone they found in your TV campaign
  • Evidence that your firm is truly the passionate and sincere service provider it purports to be

Toward that second criterion, law firms are increasingly incorporating Community Social Responsibility (CSR) into their practices.

CSR refers to any and all efforts your firm makes to become a better citizen of your community. It might include pro bono service, diverse hiring practices, attorney community service, free resources you make available online, or mentoring in local schools, etc.

We’ve written a guide to CSR in the legal services space, including the very real business benefits it can confer on your firm. Among those myriad benefits: the major selling point CSR becomes when reaching out to Millennials.

Talk to Network Affiliates About How to Market Your Law Firm to Millennial Clients

Now that you know why the talking head strategy isn’t as effective anymore, you can take strategic steps toward a new kind of law firm branding.

Network Affiliates is a team of legal marketing experts determined to keep our clients at the front of the pack. Reach out and ask us how we can help to craft modern legal messaging that gets results for your firm. Call 877.709.0633 or contact us online today.

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