COVID-19 has altered legal operations in more ways than one. Law firms weren't just forced to work remotely—they also had to rethink their advertising. Is it too soon for law firms to advertise again? And where and how should they market their services?
Chris Princis, Vice President of Consumer Attorney Marketing Group (CAMG), joined LitiCast to share his recommendations and what he's seeing on a national and local level.
Watch the full conversation, or read the highlights below.
“What Didn’t Work Was Not Being Out There”
Princis says that business interruption and nursing home neglect are two of the practice areas that law firms have pivoted to during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Firms have had a little time to think about where they want to go,” he says. “This was a great time to not only stay focused, but to reset and do some inner searching on what the firm looks like and where they want to go. Then we laid out a plan according to those goals and according to some of the benefits we were seeing on the media landscape.”
There’s significantly more airtime available because sports are on hiatus and many advertisers have pulled out, so prices have gone down even while viewership has gone up. Princis says there’s “plenty of” value for law firms who want to make a splash.
As for which type of ad worked best — those that acknowledge the coronavirus versus those that take a more everything-is-normal approach — he says that the phone was ringing in response to both. “What didn’t work was not being out there.”
That said, regarding the in-these-uncertain-times commercials that have been airing ad nauseam, Princis says, “At this point, unless it’s a COVID-related campaign, people are — this might be putting it lightly — beyond sick of it. Our creatives are adjusting accordingly.”
The Moneyball of Law Firms
Even going into the third and even fourth quarter of 2020, Princis sees plenty of opportunity for law firms to capitalize on. “This is not the time to be on the sidelines. Going into Q3, it’s still wide-open. There are still a lot of questions with sporting events: How does that look and is it gonna be televised? So still a lot of air, and the stations are acting accordingly. States are starting to come out of these phases, but not altogether, so viewership is still really high.”
This is not the time to be on the sidelines...States are starting to come out of these phases, but not altogether, so viewership is still really high.
He also says that, in a historical rarity, “You’re going to be able to pinpoint, as if with a starting gun, when people can get out there and resume moving around.” CAMG has been tracking mobility in different states and communities so that firms know when and where to spend. Princis says that campaign performance often runs parallel to a local area’s mobility. “You can make very rational, strategic decisions [based] on that.”
He underscores that all of CAMG’s decisions are driven by data, such as how much the population in a certain area spends. He calls the agency “the Moneyball of law firms” adding, “It doesn’t have to be pretty or feel good, but if it makes sense on paper, you’re probably going to get some wins.”
Princis foresees the next few months as The Summer of the Car. “We’re coming into the summer months, when people are ready to get out. A lot of people are still planning to go on vacation, and we still have 95 percent of us who aren’t going to be flying.” Some personal injury firms, then, may want to prioritize auto accident cases.
No matter what their goals, though, “There’s no better time to start looking at Q3.”
Infomercials vs. Over-the-Top
One thing that surprised Princis was just how effective CAMG’s infomercials have been. “We’re doing more full 30-minute blocks. The fire sale on these has been amazing because networks need to fill these chunks that sports aren’t filling now. So, great opportunity there.”
He had assumed the infomercials would do well for high-touch, high-emotion case types such as sex abuse and nursing home neglect, where there is also confusion around how victims should proceed. “With something like sex abuse, they appreciate it, that someone took the time to approach them using this media channel.”
But the half-hour infomercials have worked for other practice areas as well, and even general personal injury. “National mass torts, I mean it’s really performing well. We’ve got some templated asbestos infomercials, as well as some branded ones that we shot with the firms. You own the whole 30 minutes. You also own the commercial breaks, so a lot of firms are running their own commercials. The cost to get them right now is kind of crazy.”
He says that one law firm, Herman Law, even thought to shoot an infomercial via Skype, and that ad has been performing just as well as a more traditional one. “With the infomercials across the board, we’re seeing a lot of traction.”
Over-the-top ads — which run on streaming devices such as Netflix and Hulu — have as yet not been as successful. “It’s great for branding, and it’s great for testing. The data is coming back, and right now we’re not seeing results, the return on investment for that capital. But we recommend to test that because it’s up and coming. We just haven’t seen the return yet.”
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