Best Practice: Personal injury law firm TV advertising – launching a program
Asked and Answered
By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC
Q. I am the owner of a plaintiff personal injury law firm in Arlington, Texas. I have three associate attorneys, six non-lawyer case managers, and three other staff members. Our marketing consists of our yellow pages program and our website. I am considering TV advertising and I would appreciate your thoughts concerning venturing into this arena.
A. This is a big step. TV advertising does work for personal injury plaintiff firms and can take your firm to the next level if you can afford it and are willing to stay the course. A few years ago the managing partner of a very successful personal injury plaintiff firm stated to me, “If I could only afford to do one marketing thing it would be TV advertising.” You can’t dabble with advertising – you must invest for the long haul and have the proper infrastructure in place to process new client inquiries, book appointments, and handle new client intake. If this foundation is not laid you should not invest in a TV advertising program. Here are a few thoughts and observations:
1. Establish your advertising goals and objectives.
2. Retain a top-notch media consulting firm with law firm expertise.
3. Establish an advertising budget for at least six months – one year is better.
4. Secure adequate capital to finance your advertising budget.
5. Be prepared for borrow money.
6. Develop your operational infrastructure. This consists of everything from your advertising tracking database, case management system, website, call center/telephone system, call scripts, documented intake process and procedures, dedicated intake call operators, designated people to take in new cases, and case evaluation protocols.
7. Have a process in place to handle and respond to new case calls after hours and on weekends including attorneys on call able to meet with prospective clients during these times.
We have all seen personal injury plaintiff firms that dabble in TV advertising – on TV today and off-air tomorrow. They spent a lot of money and were hoping for immediate gratification. When after running ads for a month or two they have few or no new cases, they concluded that TV advertising does not work. The truth is they were not prepared to stay in the game long enough.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC, (www.olmsteadassoc.com) is a past chair and member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics and author of The Lawyers Guide to Succession Planning published by the ABA. For more information on law office management please direct questions to the ISBA listserver, which John and other committee members review, or view archived copies of The Bottom Line Newsletters