July 08, 2019 #LRIS2Know

LRIS Marketing

Success at Your Fingertips

By Amy J. Seefeld and Charles J. Klitsch

Competition among providers of legal services has never been more intense. Local and national law firms and online entities wield multi-million-dollar advertising budgets, unheard of just a few years ago, to woo customers with their slick ads.

As directors of lawyer referral services, how can we use our notoriously meager advertising budgets to get noticed?

The first step is to remind ourselves of our target audience. Lawyer referral services want to attract consumers who can afford to pay for attorneys or who have matters that can be handled on a contingent fee basis.

The next step is to consider how we can reach the eyes and ears of our target audience. Generally, the people we target are employed. How do they get to work? What do they see and hear on their way to and from work? The people we target have disposable income and time for leisure activities. How do they spend their time away from work? The people we target often have never used an attorney before. If they do not first reach out to LRIS, who do they contact?

The answers, which vary from market to market, will guide us to the final step—developing and implementing a plan to bring LRIS to the attention of the most people in our target audience at the lowest cost. At the Philadelphia Bar Association's LRIS, we are constantly asking the above questions to inform our marketing strategy.

Lately, we've been focusing our marketing efforts on advertising to public transit riders, attending community events and enhancing the distribution of our LRIS brochures.

LRIS Marketing

LRIS Marketing

Transit Riders

Our LRIS has been advertising to commuters for many years. We were placing ads for LRIS on the front page of a newspaper distributed free to commuters throughout the public transit system. However, the reading habits of commuters have changed. Commuters who once devoured the morning paper on their daily ride now read the news or keep up with social media on their smartphones.

We have been reaching smartphone users through our Google and Facebook advertising programs and we wanted to do more. We studied demographic information on local transit riders. We found that riders on our regional rail lines are generally employed full-time and more than half have incomes over $75,000 per year—a perfect audience for LRIS. Next, we reviewed the options for advertising to them. At first, we considered posters on train platforms. But with limited funds, we would only be able to afford posters for just some of the 155 stations in the system. Also, as this is an "awareness" campaign, we do not need to market to the same limited audience every day. We opted for posters in the train cars. As they travel throughout the system, our posters are bound to be seen at least once by nearly every rider.

For this train campaign, we went with a simple message. The poster we designed features a hand holding a smartphone and the tag line "Legal Help at Your Fingertips." We have been using this poster and tag line in several advertising venues this year. It has been great for our social media campaigns because the majority of people seeing the ads are viewing them right from their phones.

What is the best way to market LRIS to commuters in your community? Are public transit riders the right demographic? Will a well-placed billboard convey your message to commuters? Will a radio ad reach the ears of drivers?

Community Events

We also market LRIS to potential customers while they are engaged in leisure activities. We are participating in a variety of events throughout the city this year.

During the warm months in Philadelphia, people love to go to street festivals. We will be staffing an LRIS table or booth at some small neighborhood fairs and at a few large festivals.

The first festival we attended this spring was a huge success for us. We had between 400 and 500 people come to our booth to talk with us and take a brochure. We also had two large signs touting LRIS, delivering the LRIS message to thousands of people who did not take the time to stop at our table.

At many community events, there is no cost or just a minimal charge to have a table. Often, the festival organizers will offer a reduced rate to nonprofit organizations.

Getting people to stop at your booth is easy if you attract them with nifty giveaways. Consider getting giveaway items that people will use or see repeatedly and that they will hang onto long term. After looking at dozens of promotional items that could be branded with our logo and phone number, we chose a magnetic clip that could be used on chip bags and could also be used to hang photos on the refrigerator. It is an inexpensive item that people will hang onto. We attached one of our LRIS brochures to each clip so that visitors to the booth had to take a brochure if they took a clip.

If you are at a pet-friendly event, make your booth dog-friendly. People with pets have disposable income and are likely to be able to pay for a lawyer when the need arises. Bring a water bowl and jugs of water to keep it filled. Also, a bowl of dog treats on your table will help bring people with pets to your booth. You might even want to consider getting some branded waste bag dispensers to use as giveaways. They are relatively inexpensive and are a product that is likely to be clipped to a leash and kept for a long time because they are refillable.

During the colder months, we plan to partner with city council members and state representatives for informational events in the neighborhoods they serve. For these events, we are considering branded lip balm as a giveaway. It is an inexpensive item that will be used repeatedly.

How should you market to people engaged in leisure activities in your community? Are street festivals the best option? Or will you reach more people with an outfield sign at the local little league baseball field?

LRIS Brochures

While we would like to think otherwise, LRIS is not always the first resource a potential client contacts when a legal need arises. An effective way to help those who field calls from people with legal problems is to have an informative LRIS brochure and a comprehensive distribution plan to place them where your target audience will see them and to ensure that government offices, agencies, and organizations that help consumers can provide them to visitors. We have a spreadsheet with more than 150 places to which we distribute our brochures. We maintain a regular replenishment schedule for everyone on the list. We distribute our LRIS brochures to all of the court offices, city agencies, legal aid agencies, city council offices, local state representative offices, libraries, and consulates.

In your community, who do people reach out to when they need legal help? These are the people and agencies who should have your brochures.

Enhancing the Message

In a confusing legal marketplace, consumers are looking for a resource they can trust. Our LRIS is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. We are using this in our marketing, letting consumers know that we have been a trusted resource for generations of Philadelphians.

We have also found that the catchphrase, "Legal Help at Your Fingertips" resonates with consumers.

Be creative. Find the words that will help LRIS connect with your community.

Maintaining a Successful Advertising Campaign

The keys to a successful advertising campaign are to constantly reevaluate where you are advertising to determine whether they are still effective, to scan the marketplace for new ways to reach your target audience and to be willing to revise your message to make a positive impression with consumers.

Being nimble to reach the eyes and ears of your target audience and adapting your message to meet the expectations of consumers are the best ways to keep LRIS phones ringing.