tv media buying

The Definitive Guide to TV Advertising for Law Firms

An old marketing adage goes, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

We believe law firm owners can do better than that. And with as much money as many of us spend on TV advertising, it’s extremely valuable to get insight into what’s working in the TV budget — and what’s not.

An old marketing adage goes, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Fortunately, with the right data tracking and tools, it’s easy to get information that allows you to advertise more efficiently, which can help you:

  1. Bring down your cost per case
  2. Increase your return on investment
  3. And, just as importantly, gain a competitive advantage over other firms

Rule #1: Ask the client which marketing source triggered them to contact you during intake.

The first step in measuring TV buys is getting good information on which marketing source led a caller to contact your firm. We ask that question every time at intake at our firm. If you don’t ask that question, you are sentencing yourself to shooting in the dark when it comes to marketing spending.

Billboards, television commercials, the internet, direct mail (where allowed), word of mouth, and professional referrals may all combine to influence someone to call a law firm.

But even if you ask that question and collect the data, there are limitations. That’s because a well-branded firm advertises in multiple ways, and the various marketing channels work synergistically.

Billboards, television commercials, the internet, direct mail (where allowed), word of mouth, and professional referrals may all combine to influence someone to call a law firm.

So how do you know what to attribute your call to? By asking what made the caller decide to contact you, you force them to choose one (and only one) medium, and tell you what it was. This tells you the caller’s top-of-mind awareness of what marketing channel made him or her contact you. Even though in truth, a wide variety of sources may have contributed to the ultimate decision to call your firm, knowing what the caller says was the key factor is extremely important. What pushed him or her over the line?

Rule #2: Override the answer if they call from a dedicated tracking phone number.

I take the caller’s word as gospel, with one exception. When I have a unique tracking phone number that is only published in one medium (e.g. direct mail), I override the caller’s answer and go with where the tracking number is published as the reason for the call.

Those unique tracking numbers by definition are the last stop in a potential client’s journey to the intake call. So I consider them objectively more reliable than a caller’s impressions of what made him or her pick up the phone and call us.

Rule #3: Measure television’s effectiveness by all calls and cases.

While it is great to track top-of-mind awareness, I don’t think that’s the end of the story. Television is an inherently more powerful medium than others, and has a big effect on behavior, even if it isn’t cited as the reason for the call. A large television spender is going to have enhanced awareness of its brand, and more people are going to call them, even if those people attribute their reason to other sources.

Leave TV off of your marketing strategy, and your referrals, internet inquiries, direct mail responses, and other call sources will also decline. As a result, I measure TV’s effectiveness by the total amount of calls and cases I get, regardless of stated source.

In other words, top-of-mind and unique tracking phone numbers are a good way to compare non-TV sources. But with TV, you have to judge its effectiveness through all calls and cases.

The Secret Weapon: Knowing What is Effective in a TV Buy

TV is powerful, and drives a lot of calls, so any information I can get on the effectiveness of my TV spending is precious. So how do you know which of the many TV shows that your agency places ads on are cost-effective, and which ones are wasted? For many, it’s guesswork. And here, asking callers what channel or TV show they were watching when they decided to call you is more likely to confuse than give you valuable information. I know because I tried that.

So we came up with something better. We developed an application that captures the time of every new intake our firm receives, and overlays that against the TV buy our agency places. We can see at a glance on a graph when we are running ads, and when we are receiving inquiries.

Asking callers what channel or TV show they were watching when they decided to call you is more likely to confuse than give you valuable information. I know because I tried that.

Over time, some clear trends can emerge. If I see periods where I am advertising heavily but calls are relatively light, I can feed that information to my agency and have them move that money elsewhere.

Then I can watch, check my data, see what happens, and course correct again, if necessary. If I see that I am getting a lot of calls during a certain time of day, or when a particular show is running, I make sure that we continue to buy that show and time slot when our buys are renewed.

Conclusion

Investing in your marketing is critical to success. It brings in new cases, driving future revenue. Being able to make smart marketing decisions enhances the power of marketing, stops us from wasting that 50% that isn’t working, and provides us with an advantage when competitors are guessing or chasing the latest fad. We want data-driven decisions.

Tracking our marketing mediums allows us to compare the effectiveness of non-TV spending categories, and decide how much to allocate to each. But TV advertising is still all-powerful, for those who can afford to spend to build a brand. And a great way to get the most out of TV spending is to be able to track the effectiveness of a TV buy by comparing it with intakes.

I’ve heard it said that “knowledge is power.” Maybe. But I’ve got to confess that this feels more like a superpower.

Jim Farrin is CEO of GrowPath.  He is also Founder and President of the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin.  His law firm has recovered more than $1 billion in gross for over 43,000 clients over the last 20 years.