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Talk to viewers like you’d talk to a jury
Would you talk to a jury the way your TV ads talk to the pubic? It’s a question worth considering the next time you take a critical look at the success of your television advertising campaign—and quality of cases it yields.
Much like a jury must be convinced by a compelling argument—a real story with real human connection—so too must viewers of TV advertising be convinced about the authenticity of a law firm’s “story.”
Surprisingly, a majority of the legal commercials on TV today don’t take this simple approach. In fact, they do many of things you would never think to do in a courtroom, such as:
- Talk about yourself (or your lawyers) instead of the case at hand—people with legitimate legal difficulties.
- Scream louder than the other lawyer, instead of calmly, rationally explaining the evidence on behalf of your client.
- Default to generalizations, which lose the jury’s attention, rather than specifics, which “sell” the story and make a lasting impact.
- Focus on the end result—the big money, the number of cases won—rather than people’s universal “pain points.”
- Skimp on the presentation of critical “evidence”—the images and visual aids that tell might tell 1,000 words in one picture.
Thinking about the parallel between advertising audiences and juries is a metaphor meant to help you reflect on how your legal firm is asking for cases. If you spend time creating a high-quality, well-researched and strategic argument (TV messaging), your case will be that much more convincing.
If you want quality cases—the kind that lead to stronger results, better relationships and more referrals—you must ask for them in a quality way through your advertising approach. That might require ignoring a majority of today’s legal ads and creating your own signature message, or systemically breaking down some current ads as how-tos on what not to do.
Legal advertising that asks for quick, cheap cases might bring short-term gain, but it is also guaranteed to deliver short-term clients and relationships, as well as to short-change consumers about what your law firm really has to offer.
Like all the strongest legal arguments, it takes a more strategic approach to acquire more valuable, higher-quality cases and clients. Again, think of it like talking to a jury in a courtroom:
- Research what the other lawyer (competing law firm in your space) is doing.
- Focus on explaining the undeniable evidence (your legal brand’s differentiators and story).
- Connect with decision-making jury members (potential clients) by linking experiences they might have had to the ones you’re presenting.
- Appeal to your jury (advertising audience) through emotion and empathy—the places from which all long-term relationships start.
- Help your jury (viewers) see beyond outcomes and settlements to the real community service of law.
As lawyers, sometimes it’s easiest to understand advertising strategy in the context of the courtroom. Next time you question the quality of cases your TV messaging yields, ask first: Who is your jury?