LFMM 014 Transcript: Law Firm Radio Advertising 101

Click here to go to the show notes from episode 13

Hello and welcome to Episode 14 of the Law Firm Marketing Mastery podcast, where we get more clients, make more money, step-by-step. I am your host, Christopher Small, and this week I am going to talk about radio advertising basics; and, in the Tip of the Week I am going to talk about an organizational tool that I think anyone can use to their benefit.

Week in Review

But, before we get to all of that let’s talk about my week in review. This week I want to talk about just one thing that happened to me. It’s something that, I think, in the back of our minds we are all afraid of happening, but I want to talk about it so you can learn how to deal with it if it ever happens to you. What this is, it is a little bit of blowback that I got on my direct mail advertising campaign.

As you all know, I’ve talked about it in a couple of past shows, I started a direct mail advertising campaign in about the beginning of November, probably. And what I do is I get a list of everyone that’s been charged with DUI and I send them an informational letter letting them know that they are facing some serious consequences and that if they want to call me and ask for help I will give them a free consultation and see if we’re the right fit.

I have been sending those out since November, like I said, and last week I finally got a little bit of blowback. It was an email that went out to a listserve that I am a part of, and the email basically said: “Hey, have any of your clients been getting this direct mail advertisement from CMS Law Firm? My client got one and he is pissed.”

So I saw that and I just responded with the rules of professional conduct for my state which allow me to do exactly what I am doing and make sure that I am working within the rules because obviously that is something that is important for all of us and just let it like that.

Then there was another email from a guy in response to my response, and that is the one that I want to talk about because I think it raises some issues that we are all concerned about, or we all kind of worried about in the back of our minds. I just want to talk about them briefly, okay?

Here is the email. It’s pretty long so I am just going to read it and then we will go from there, pull a couple of things out of it. So it says:

I am not going to venture an opinion as to whether your direct mail solicitation meets the requirements of RPC 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3 That is something best left to… (and he names someone that is known for being good at ethics here, who answers questions for us)… who is much more knowledgeable in this area than I am. But really you should take a moment to see this from the other attorney’s point of view. Just because the RPC may technically allow you to do a direct mail solicitation it doesn’t always mean it is a wise method for tracking your clients. We all need clients so we sympathize with your desire to attract clients. It is how we all stay alive.

But do you really want to cause a ruckus at the guy’s home? What if he or she was hoping to keep their problem “quiet” without any of their family members, spouses and their kids knowing about such a “problem”? Your direct mail solicitation, however well-intentioned, may have landed like a bomb in that client’s home.

And what about your relationship with other criminal defense attorneys in the area? Do you really want to go stepping on the toes of a number of folks just because the Bar seems to allow for direct mail solicitations? Why run the risk of direct mail solicitations to a client who has already hired another attorney? Why alienate your fellow brothers and sisters in the defense bar? There may come a time when you will need one of us possibly to help you cover a hearing or for a much needed brief or motion or even just a kick around an idea for defending a particular client or to discuss a particular vexing issue on a case. Seems short sided to me.

There are a host of other ways to market yourself legitimately and effectively without sending out a direct mail solicitation to prospective clients and causing such a ruckus. I would politely recommend that you canvas other attorneys to see how they market their law practices. Anyways, you do what you want, I am only offering some ideas for you to consider.

Okay, so that was a well-intentioned email, sent in the right way. I didn’t take any offense to it but I want to talk about a couple of points there as to how it kind of relates and pertains to marketing your law firm. And then I am going to talk about another time that I have heard something like this and how I reacted to it too.

So first, there are three main points that I want to pull out of this and talk about.

Number one: Do I want to cause a ruckus in the guy’s home?

That is the number one reason why I should not do this direct mail advertising. Obviously, no, I don’t want to cause this potential client any pain. Obviously if he is pissed he is not going to want to hire me so that’s not the point. And when I send these out they are addressed specifically to the person whose information we receive and it’s sealed in an envelope. It has just our law firm name on it, it doesn’t say anything about criminal charges or DUI, doesn’t say anything at all referencing any criminal charges.

So assuming that the guy is going to open his mail then, you know, he is going to open his mail. And, like I said, I don’t want people to have problems at all because of my direct mail solicitation, but if you are charged with a crime, at some point you are probably going to want to talk to your family about it, that just is what it is. That is the lesson number one I guess or my answer to the first problem posed by this attorney.

Number two: hurting relationships with other defense attorneys. 

Now this is kind of an interesting problem that is faced here because what I’ve found in the past is that the people that are concerned from this point of view are not necessarily the people that are marketing their firm in ways that normal other businesses would, I guess.

What I mean by that is… well you are not going to see… how do I say this? Well I guess at the end of the day I am not necessarily worried about how other people think of me, defense attorneys in particular. Particularly these defense attorneys.

If you don’t want to help me because of a letter that I sent out to a potential client within the rules, that was not in any way abusive or misleading or anything like that… then maybe I don’t want your help. And there are a lot of other attorneys out there that I know that are willing to help me. There are a lot of other attorneys out there that I know that are doing the same thing. And I guess that’s just why I kind of stand on that.

If someone doesn’t want to help me out because of one mail piece that I sent out, then I don’t want your help anyway, that is the best way that I can say it. If you are going to hold a grudge over something like that or be so pissed off over something like that that you are not going to help me if I ever need it, then that’s fine, that’s okay. Because like I said what I am doing is just a normal traditional business practice, and it’s effective. And I am not going to pass up the chance to help people out with my services, which I think are some of the best in the city, just so that I can feel good when I call another attorney that maybe they’ll help me.

My motivation is not to make the defense bar like me necessarily. I would be happy if they do and I am for that but at the end of the day my role here is to help people and I am not here to help other defense attorneys make money by pulling back on a marketing method that works just because it makes them feel bad.

Number three: the recommendation that I canvas these other attorneys to see how they market their practices.

That’s actually good advice. It’s good advice because I would go and ask them what they do and then I would probably want to try to do the opposite of what they are doing, right?

Because if you are doing what everyone else is doing then you are falling behind. Go take out your yellow pages ad, go whatever else just anybody does and just do the same way they do, sign up for a couple of client referral networks and just hope the phone rings and see how far that gets you, because it is not going to get you very far.

In the past attorneys that have been practicing for a long time could rest on their laurels, they could just wait for the referral business to come in, over and over again. But today’s business landscape is much more competitive. And while a lot of my business is based on referrals it’s not… I work for that business too, it’s part of my marketing plan and I have specific systems set up to help me generate referrals. And I can almost guarantee you that most of these guys don’t. And now they are starting to feel a pinch because people like me are coming in and just employing traditional business practices and taking money out of their pockets. And that is kind of a scary feeling so…

Those are the three issues that I wanted to point out and talk about and I just wanted to say again that sure, it is important to listen to what these people are saying and hear them out, but at the same time you don’t owe them anything. And if what they are asking me to do doesn’t make any sense, or if what they are asking you to do is only to help them out, then if you want to do it do it, but if you don’t want to don’t feel any obligation.

And I think what you will find at the end of the day is the tough talk that they kind of presented, will just kind of dissipate away. If you follow the rules then you are good to go, in my book.

So that’s that, and taking back to this, this has happened to me one time earlier too. It wasn’t with direct mail advertising, it was when I first started my traffic… when I first started my law firm, I started a traffic blog and I started talking about ways people could beat their traffic tickets.

I talked just about some common defenses that were out there, some of the things that I looked at on a traffic ticket to try to beat it when someone hired me. And I actually had a lawyer call me up on the phone and basically cuss me out and say: “What are you doing? You are going to steal all of our business! People are just going to stop hiring attorneys so you need to stop writing this blog immediately. Basically I am ordering you to stop writing this blog, you are messing up things for everyone.”

And that really rattled me big time because I’d never had anything like that happen before. And it feels good to have people like you and when you hear someone telling you that they are not happy with something that you are doing – that is not a good feeling.

So I thought about it and actually I talked to a business coach that I had at the time and he said basically exactly what I just re-iterated about this direct mail campaign – you are not here to make friends with your other attorneys. Yes, you want to be a nice person, you want to be careful and be respectful but when it comes to running your business, you are not here to make friends, you are not here to do what someone else wants just because it’s not making them comfortable.

So just keep that in mind as you move forward – I think it’s an important lesson and one that needs to be talked about and something that most of us will run into at some point or another, particularly if you start to achieve success. People will become threatened. You would be surprised about the calls and the emails that you will get and the “advice” that you will get form people about how you should run your business and that advice typically isn’t for the benefit of your law firm, it’s for the benefit of their law firm.

So that’s kind of the lesson that I learned from this last week and I think it’s an important one so I am just going to move on from there to our feature segment of the week.

Feature Segment of the Week: Radio Advertising for Law Firms

This week we are talking about radio advertising for your law firm 101. I am going to run you thorough my ad campaign, some of the things that I came across and thought about and I am just going to try to give you some tips and some things to think about if you are ever interested in radio so that you can start off on the right foot.

This podcast is kind of a culmination of probably at least a month of work that I’ve been doing with a radio station to put some ads on their station. And it took me a long time because honestly I was a little nervous about whether or not it was going to work, and when you are nervous about something, procrastination is the best way to take care of that because you don’t really have to make any decisions one way or another, you don’t have to put your money where your mouth is – as they say… So I did that, but eventually the rubber met the road, I talked to some more people and you know, I was convinced that at least giving the radio a shot was worth the investment.

So we finally got everything settled, everything finalized last week, so I wanted to talk about it this week. So like I said: If you ever want to venture into the radio industry you can have a couple of things to think about when you are deciding what your campaign is going to look like, okay?

Number one: make sure have your ideal client avatar outlined.

I have talked about this on an entire podcast episode before, I will link to it here in the notes, but if you don’t know who your ideal client is when it comes to radio advertising you are going to have a lot of problems. Because different people tend to listen to different kinds of music, there is country music, there is rock, there is pop, classical, there is talk news, all of those stations tend to pull in kind of demographically different kinds of people. And the way that you get your message in front of that person that you want to help is to know who that person you want to help is. And the way that you do that is by writing down all the characteristics that your client has and then finding your radio station, or radio stations that match those criteria.

So that was another one thing that we had to do, we did that quite some time ago, we sat down and told them about who I thought my ideal client was, who I am kind of targeting and then we picked a radio station based on that information. And I think it is a good choice, okay? So that’s the first thing that you must know, if you don’t know that to expect success it’s not going to work.

Number two: decide whether you want to reach or frequency in your ad buy.

This is something that I actually struggle with a lot, and I went back and forth on it a couple of times. So reach, when it comes to radio advertising, is the maximum number of people that will hear your message.

So, obviously, if you played your message once every hour for the whole day it would probably get you maximum reach, because at different times of the day people listen to the radio, at other times of the day other people listen to the radio and so by spreading out your ads over time you will hit more people, okay?

Frequency then, on the other hand, is hitting the same group of people over and over again. For example, you will have an add that goes in the morning drive time every day of the week, Monday to Friday so that the people that are listening to your ads would probably be the same people driving to work every day that listen to this specific radio station.

You need to decide where you want to go, whether you want to have reach or frequency. For me, in the DUI defense realm, which is the ad buy that I am doing, I want to have reach.

Because, when you think about it, when it comes to DUI defense, it’s not something that people need until they need it, right? So what I want to be able to do is put my ad in front of someone that has the immediate need for my services. And the best way to do that is to reach the most people possible.

I want to have a Monday morning ad, a Tuesday afternoon ad, a Wednesday lunch time ad, whatever. Because that way I can hopefully get my ad in front of someone who is in the process of looking for my services because they just got in trouble.

I am going for reach, for maximum number of people because this is not something that people necessarily need to hear a bunch of times to have it engrained. It’s something that I need to pique people’s interest in, when they have their problem so that they will go and check me out.

For you, it may be different. For you it may be a thing where you decide you want to do a kind of a drip campaign over a week: On day one you have a certain kind of ad, day two you have a certain kind of ad, day three you have a certain kind of ad, to where you are kind of just continually building up for someone that you are eventually going to try to get them to call you, okay? So that is something that you need to think about.

Number three: radio or streaming?

The third thing that you have to decide is that you have radio buys and you have online radio buys. For this particular station they were separate, they don’t just stream the ads on the radio and the internet at the same time. You can buy blocks of internet space at significantly cheaper rate.

And the other thing that the radio station was trying to sell me was banner ads on the online radio station. So what I did was I bought quite a few of the online ads, the radio ads, because they are really cheap and reach is my goal, so I want to just reach as many people as possible and it is super cheap so I figured I would just utilize that and just test it and see if it worked.

The banner ads I cut off. They were giving me like 2000 impressions for like 200 bucks or something. But whenever I am buying any kind of advertising I am trying to put myself in the shoes of the potential customer. And I don’t know if you have ever listened to the radio on the internet or listened to anything on the internet except video… most of the time you put the radio on in the background and you go to work on something else, so you minimize the window and you pull your email up or you pull that spreadsheet that you are working on or that motion that you are working on and you just have the radio on in the background.

Because that is the case, people aren’t really going to be able to even see your banner ad, you know? So I just didn’t even see the point of spending 200 bucks a month, which is not a big amount of money for something that I thought it was going to be extremely ineffective, so I just cut those out.

Number four: Putting your ad together.

Okay, so the fourth thing I am going to talk about real quickly is putting your advertising ad together. Because there are a million different potential ways to do this I did some research. I talked to some people, and this is kind of what I came up with and what I decided to do. And I don’t have the ad complete yet, it hasn’t been recorded and everything yet. But once I do I will put it up here so you can listen to it and you can critique it, you can tell me if it’s good or not.

But here are the important things that I wrote about putting a radio ad together: First and foremost you only want to have one message in the ad, you want to only hit one pinpoint, right? You only have 30 seconds so you can’t really say that much. So you’ve got to figure out which is the pinpoint that you are going to try to emphasize and then just stick to that for the 30 seconds.

The second thing that you want to do is you want to have one point too. If you are going to emphasize something about your law firm you just want to pick out one thing, you want to have one message in one point, okay? Because that’s all you are going to have time for and people, when they listen to the radio they have short attention spans away. So it’s important to hit them fast, hit them hard, and get something that will get their attention, give them a call to action and then move on.

And that’s the third part of a good radio ad, is having a strong call to action. For me, I picked sending them to the website and I did that for two reasons.

The first reason is that I couldn’t find a good vanity phone number to use. I looked around and all of the DUI phone numbers are taken. And I didn’t want to use my own phone number because it is hard to remember, you know? If you are on the radio, people are driving, they don’t have time to write down your telephone number, so if it’s not memorable or catchy then you may want to think about doing something else.

And that is what I did. I direct people to my website and this kind of all goes back to again having some way that makes, that sets you out from the crowd, that makes you distinct. And that for me is being the Seattle DUI guys.

We don’t emphasize my name, we don’t emphasize the firm name, we emphasize that we are the Seattle DUI guys and we send people to our website. If you want more information, what we do is we push them towards a free resource that is on our website. So if you want this free DUI defense guide, please go to seattleduiguy.com and you can get that information.

So that, hopefully, will send people there and they would call us, they would download the guide and they are set up on an email drip kind of campaign that would hopefully get them to call for that reason too.

The fourth point, and this is something that I picked up just in my resources, is you should repeat the call to action twice at the end. Don’t just tell people what you want to do one time, tell them twice. That way, I think, the reasoning is if they are not listening or they are not paying attention then you have another opportunity to tell them what you want them to do.

And the call to action is probably the most important part in any ad that you are going to do any time, under any medium, because if you don’t tell people what you want them to do they are not going to do it, and you are never going to get any business, they are never going to call you, they are never going to go to your website. You need to specifically tell them, “this is what you should do: go to our website to check us out, call our number, <give your number> to schedule your free consultation.”

All right, and then the last thing I want to say about radio ads is the idea of whether or not to have something kind of fancy with a lot of sound effects versus something that is just kind of strict to the point and gets in and out.

What I have gone with is the strict to the point in and out kind of ad. Yes, there is some background music but there are no sound effects, there are no police sirens, it just says basically to start off: “Have you been arrested for DUI?” And then it goes on from there. So you catch them at the very beginning and give them the information that you want them to get and then get out, that is the best way to do it. Directly, straight to the point, good call to action and they have it.

So, if you are thinking about putting an ad together, start with those kind of fundamental principles, talk to the guy that is selling you the ads, listen to what he has to say, understand at the same time that he might not have any formal education or experience with marketing, particularly with marketing a law firm, so take that with a grain of salt, ask around and listen to the radio too.

When you hear a lawyer ad pay attention to it and see how it makes you feel when you hear it, you know? And then just go from there.

Number five: Ad Timeline.

All right, the final thing that I want to talk about when it comes to radio advertising is ad timeline.

So they want you to… well they have several different options: you can do a two week option; a three week option; or a four week option.

If you have a two week option for example, your ads run for two weeks on and then for two weeks off. Two weeks on, two weeks off. And you can do two, three or four weeks. I ended up going with the two week timeline, and there are a couple of reasons for that.

At the beginning, I was worried that if we go two weeks on, two weeks off we are going to lose the message, it’s just going to fade away. But, when you think about it, the point of my advertising campaign is not to create… the number one goal is not to create brand awareness necessarily, right? It probably will have that effect – more people would know about us, but that is not the main goal.

Because my goal is not frequency, having ads every week isn’t as much of a priority as it would be if frequency was my priority. If I wanted just to get my name into people’s heads, then probably it would be proven to do an ad every week, another one every week. Another thing with the two week ad run allows you to do is the kind of test and see what is going on, okay? You run your ad for two weeks, are you getting any calls? If you are getting calls, do they slow down when you turn the radio ads off?

Having a two week on, two week off schedule allows you to at least kind of get a feel for the amount of help that it’s providing you, okay? So that is something else to think about. Obviously if you do two weeks versus four weeks it’s going to be half the price. And so far I have committed 2500 a month towards my advertising budget for the two week run.

So, if you want to do a four week run with my budget it would be 5000 basically, and you would hope to get that back. For me, 2500 is really comfortable, that’s one new client basically pays for that entire ad buy so it’s a kind of a safe way for me to test the waters and see what is going on. If it’s effective, I will throw more money at it and continue to test and try to find that spot where I am getting the most bank for my buck, okay?

So two weeks is something to think about, three weeks is something to think about and I talked to my business coach, he was into radio advertising for a long time and he was really pushing the two week ad buy for the reasons that I said. He said you don’t really need the four weeks in the beginning in particular because you just test it out to see what happens.

And then sixth and finally when it comes to radio advertising for your law firm is the length of time to let your experiment run.

So, for me, the radio guy was trying to get me to commit to six months and I was like, “you know, I don’t want to commit to six months, that’s a long time…” So what I did was I committed to three months of radio ad buys, for two weeks on, two weeks off.

I think if you are going to consider doing any kind of advertising at all you should give it at least three months. And the reason for that is pretty simple: at the very beginning your message may not have a lot of reach and may not have a lot of resonance and you need time for it to work, you need time, you need a larger sample size than just one week or two weeks or even a month to see if this is going to work.

So just be willing to devote that money to your business as an experiment and see what happens. And that is kind of the point of this podcast too. When I first started I told you: “Look, I am going to use my law firm as a bit of a guinea pig for you so that you can learn some of these lessons without having to spend much or any of your money.”

And this is another example of that because I will get back to you and I will tell you what the results were of the advertising campaign and hopefully it works. Hopefully for me and for you it works because you can then implant it in your firm. But if it doesn’t work then you will at least have an idea of what not to do because I can tell you exactly what I have done and then you could try something different. And then if it does work you are welcome, I just made you some money.

So that’s kind of it for the feature segment today, I will probably break in maybe month by month with updates on the radio advertising just to let you all know what is going on and let you know any bumps in the road that I encounter or any great results that I get, I will obviously let you know about those.

Tip of the Week – Google Reader

Okay, so onto the tip of the week. This week’s tip of the week is pretty old school in the sense that it is something that I’ve had around for a long time but it’s really helpful for an organizational standpoint, it’s really helpful for an information digest standpoint and what I am talking about here is Google Reader.

Google Reader is a software service that Google puts out and what it does it organizes and condenses all of your blog feeds so that you don’t have to go from blog to blog to see if anybody has put any new post up or done anything. It is just all organized there in Google Reader so you just enter in all of your blog feeds and all the blogs that you want to follow and whenever a new post is posted on their blog then Google Reader is just automatically updated.

And I really like that. I read a lot of blogs when I am in court and when I have downtime, when I am just waiting I read books or blogs and Google Reader is a great place to store all that information. I have law firms on there, I have business blogs on there, I have criminal defense blogs, I have DUI blogs, I got all kinds of things that are all kind of centrally related to what I do on a daily basis so it’s a great way to get some new ideas, it is a great way to kind of peek my head into the experiences that other people are having and I think it is a great tool.

So go check that out, so “Google Reader” – all you have to do is Google that out and it would pop right up, you can create an account, it’s super easy, put your blogs in there and trust me, it is going to be fantastic, if you read blogs you got to have Google Reader.

So that was the tip of the week, as we close out I want to sadly report that we don’t have new written reviews in the last week, I would love to get some new reviews from you guys, it is a great way to let me know that you like what you are hearing, it is a great motivation for me to keep pushing on, and it is a great way to let other people know that the information here is good.

If you take 30 seconds please just go let me a review, just let me know what you think of the podcast and I would really appreciate that. You can go to iTunes, search Law Firm Marketing Mastery and you can subscribe to the feed and leave a review at the same time.

All right, another thing I want to remind you about is to sign up to the newsletter. I sent out my December monthly figures last night. I am going to probably send out the 2012 income and expense figures for my law firm on Tuesday because I release this on Monday, I am recording it on Sunday. So that would give anyone time that is listening to this go sign up for the newsletter if you want to get those yearly numbers. Probably something that is interesting to look at to see how much money I’ve made and spent this year.

I know it was interesting for me when I looked back and saw what those actual numbers were. So sign up for the newsletter I have also put some good information on there, the webinars that I do every month, I am going to release to the list exclusively, I don’t think I am going to put those out on the blog. So if you are interested in the monthly webinars that I put on, including getting the back issues, then go and sign up for the newsletter. Go to lawfirmmarketingmastery.com and the newsletter signup form is just on the right side of the side, right there at the top.

All right, let’s see… that’s it, thanks for listening, if you liked the show please follow us on iTunes and leave us a review, if you have a question or comment, please leave it at lawfirmmarketingmastery.com or you can email me at chris@lawfirmmarketingmastery.com.

I would love to hear from you on Facebook, facebook.com/lawfirmmarketingmastery and on Twitter twitter.com/csmall. Go check those out, say Hi to me, I would love to meet all of our listeners, this is something that I hope continues to become a more collaborative place for all of us to talk and share experiences and to learn and make more money, get more clients. Do that, make our firms better, make our lives better, and make our client’s lives better.

So, I hope you enjoyed this, I will talk to you soon.

Take care, bye, bye!