Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Power and Pain of Law Firm Testimonial Advertising

Plenty of advertising studies have shown how influential testimonial advertisements (relative to other types of advertising) can be without regard for industry, segment or buyer.

At first blush, what could be easier -- call good clients and ask them for a nice quote about why they use your firm. In truth, getting those quotes is just a little bit tougher, and not because there are not enough clients with good thoughts about your firm.

First, for some lawyers, asking a client for a quote is pretty close to conducting a client satisfaction survey. "What if I ask and they say they would love to except that last case you handled." Coming right out and asking someone to say something nice is REALLY scary for a lot of people (not just attorneys).

Second, attorneys may not believe that clients would do such a nice thing for nothing. "If we use them in advertising will they want favors in return (discounts, special handling, etc.). For some people everything good comes with a price (or at least that is their perception).

In both cases it is important to recruit "early-adopter" attorneys to offer up their clients for the campaign. Their experiences will speak volumes to those less willing. Make sure to broadcast feedback from early ads to the entire firm.

A third difficulty is getting quotes from clients that are perceived as "influential" among your target audience. Sometimes a testimonial project gets sidetracked by attorneys that demand the use of specific clients for the glamor or business relationship. In this instance decision by committee is particularly effective. Having a committee of attorneys selecting the field of clients will significantly reduce individual influence on final selections. Make sure that your selection committee has a clear understanding of the message of the campaign.

The final difficulty I will comment on today is getting client, attorney, and marketing crew to the same place on the right day. The best testimonial advertisements include a picture of the client, with the attorney, (my preference) in an environment that relates to the business of the client. Often scheduling can prove to be the most disastrous.

When it comes to scheduling I start with the marketing crew calendar (firm marketer, photographer, makeup), feed it to the client, and then work with the attorney schedule. Here is why I do it in that order.
  • The marketing crew will have the most flexible schedule and can offer the broadest range of appointment times. Send a choice of appointments to the client based on the marketing crew schedule.
  • The client will have the (perceived) least flexible schedule in most cases. They will dictate absolute availability.
  • The attorney, based on what the client selects, will then make choices. By allowing the client to select first the attorney will be able to make priority choices with any conflicts.
Getting a client, in print or media, to say wonderful things about your firm is a great thing! Make sure you are ready to take on this challenge.