This veteran injury lawyer has been running ads since 1983, and shares specific suggestions on stations, production, timing, costs, and consistency.
Friedman Law Offices is a personal injury law firm in Lincoln, Nebraska. Herbert Friedman is the head of the firm, which has been in business since 1962.
After legal advertising became legal again in 1976 through the Supreme Court case Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, Friedman Law Offices became the first law firm in Lincoln, Nebraska to advertise on TV. The year was 1983.
Friedman Law Offices handles workers compensation cases, civil rights litigation, and motor vehicle collisions.
Attorneys interested in advertising on television can learn several lessons from Friedman Law Offices:
- Television advertising is not a one-off event. You have to be consistent.
- It is costly, so make sure you can work it into your budget.
- Use TV advertising to build name recognition in your market.
- Incorporate online marketing tactics alongside your television advertising. This might include listing your website on your TV ads, showcasing your social media profiles in your TV ads, and sharing your TV ads on your Facebook or Google+ page, as well as on YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
1. Have you generated new leads for your law practice through television advertising?
Herbert Friedman: We’ve been advertising on TV for 30 years … 31 years actually.
2. Can you trace those leads directly to your TV ads or do your clients come to you through a variety of means that include TV advertising?”
Herbert Friedman: It’s been a pretty good way to advertise our law firm. I’m not sure you can measure it, actually.
3. So you don’t use metrics to measure TV advertising results?
Herbert Friedman: There are so many other ways of advertising, particularly on the Internet. The Yellow Pages is not a good way to advertise any more. Word of mouth is still the best way to advertise.
I’m not so sure we can really tell about television advertising. We do track it and we know it works, but you have to continue doing it. Our current advertising is a general messaging type of advertising to let people know we’re still here.
There are 300,000 people in Lincoln, Nebraska, so it’s a good market for advertising on TV.
4. What specific advertising tactics or strategies seem to be working best for you on TV?
Herbert Friedman: I don’t know that you can cubby hole that. Our market is a blue collar market, and we run a blue collar practice. We’re on Fox a lot. But we’re also on CBS just for name recognition.
Everybody knows who I am, not just because we advertise on TV. I credit that to the fact that I’m a good lawyer too. I know what I’m doing. But certainly, television advertising has played a role in my practice. It’s been a good way for people to get exposed to the fact that there are attorneys out there who will help them.
One of the problems that have faced lawyers is, a lot of times, attorneys who advertise on TV are not prepared to go to court. They’re not really good attorneys. Around here, we don’t have that problem. We mostly have competent lawyers advertising on TV in Lincoln. I’m not so sure that’s the case in a lot of major areas. Lawyers who advertise on TV do so mostly for personal injury type cases.
Some lawyers advertise on TV and broker their cases out. That’s an issue that has always been in the background, particularly for trial lawyers. We don’t do that.
You can spend an enormous amount of money on TV advertising, and ad agencies like to sell you the packages. They’ll tell you, “Hey this will be good for you,” but most of that is B.S. People know my name. If you don’t do a good job for your clients, that name vanishes pretty quickly. TV advertising generally has not improved the public’s view of a lawyer’s practice.
5. Do you incorporate any online marketing tactics in conjunction with your TV advertising? If so, how are they working out for you?
Herbert Friedman: I think so. We have a website. We’re always doing something on that. We do radio advertising. Lincoln is a growing city, so you have to have your name in front of the public so that people know who you are.
Author’s note: Friedman Law Offices is active on several social media websites. They post to their Facebook page about once a week and their Google+ page seems to be off to a slow start. There is a little bit of activity on Twitter, and they do have a LinkedIn page. The firm also has a YouTube channel. The firm could be doing a better job of utilizing its social media presence.)
6. Do you share your TV ads online through social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, Google+, or Pinterest? How does that effort contribute to your TV advertising campaign strategy?
Herbert Friedman: I don’t think we’re on any of that. Some of the videos are probably on our website. We have some new ads now.
(Author’s note: There are a handful of videos on the Friedman Law Offices’ YouTube channel, though most of them seem to be posted a year ago. The firm also has a website located at http://injurylawyersblog.org/ where informational videos on personal injury law can be watched.)
7. How often should you create new ads for running on TV?
Herbert Friedman: We were running some that are 10 years old. As a general rule, I’d say do it every 18 months. Two years is enough. Some people say six months, but I think that’s too often. The ad agencies would love to take your money, but I think 18 months to two years is enough.
We had a tagline that said “When insurance companies treat people fairly, pigs will fly. Until then, we’re here to help you.” That worked for a while. Now our tagline is “It’s what we do, it’s all we do.” I’ve been using that one for 20 years.
8. You think the tagline is important for TV advertising?
Herbert Friedman: I think so. It’s important.
9. How would a lawyer go about getting started with advertising on TV if they wanted to increase their exposure to potential new clients?
Herbert Friedman: One of the biggest problems is money. It’s an expensive thing. A lot of new attorneys can’t afford that. We run one on the Sunday night news. It’s $700 for a 30-second spot. That’s a good spot because people watch the Sunday night news.
Consistency is important. If you’re going to run an ad for 30 days and think people will know your law practice, you’re wrong. You have to run it for years before anyone will know who you are.
10. How long should you run a TV ad before people start to you know by name?
Herbert Friedman: Four years. That’s a guess. Who the hell knows?
We don’t do cable in Lincoln. That’s not effective. A cable station has 100 channels. Which one are you going to use? It’s too hard to figure that out.
We do a lot of Fox News even though I’m a liberal Democrat. They have a strong blue collar viewing audience. Some attorneys do prime time. I think that’s a waste of money, but the main thing is you have to be consistent.
11. About how long does it take to produce a good television ad and get it distributed to the proper media?
Herbert Friedman: It doesn’t take long. It depends on if you’re going to be in your own ads. I’m always in mine. I have been for years. My son is too.
I don’t use paid actors, but some people do. I don’t use stand-ins either. We just don’t do that. Frankly, I think if you’re going to do that, you’re not going to get equity in your own name.
Some attorneys use 800 numbers. They take calls from local markets and farm out the work. The problem is, you’re spending $500/month, to pull a figure out of a hat, but you’re not building name recognition on that.
12. What other suggestions do you have for lawyers regarding attracting new clients or generating leads from television advertising?
Herbert Friedman: I’ve done most of my stuff myself. I can develop a relationship with TV stations. I know the salesman. I can get a good deal.
I star in the production. I have an agency in Connecticut that I have an agreement with. Some agencies want a 15% commission based on your budget. That’s too much. We don’t do that. I have a direct connection with the television station. But the ad is produced by an ad agency I do business with. The TV stations don’t do a very good job with that. You need someone who is a little more professional. I actually write my own scripts.
In a larger market, a city of a million people, I’m not sure a young lawyer could afford to be on television. You should probably be in practice for a few years before you start advertising on TV unless you’re going to borrow money from your parents.
13. How long were you in practice before you started advertising on TV?
Herbert Friedman: I got out of law school in 1960, so around 20 years. I started advertising on TV in 1983.
Herbert Friedman: Do as much of your own production as you can. Write your own script, if possible. Star in your own commercials. Go direct to the TV station for the best deals on advertising because the agencies want to charge you a commission based on your ad budget. Focus your ads on name recognition and use a good tagline. But above all, be consistent.