You’re considering lawyer advertising on TV, but you’re afraid your law firm can’t compete. You’re probably thinking that you can only afford somewhere between $5,000 and $15,000 per month, but there are two or three law firms each spending $200,000 per month on advertising, monopolizing your market. With the public seeing your competitors’ commercials all day long, can you successfully compete and ensure that your money will not be wasted?
One lawyer I know was doing just that. In a small TV market where three law firms were spending a total of over $5 million a year in advertising, he took a chance on TV using TV commercials made for free by the TV station and advertising his local office telephone number. After two months he didn’t receive even one call and decided to try using a vanity phone number. After looking on the Internet, he found 1-800-HURT-911® which provided him with high-quality TV commercials in addition to the 1-800 vanity phone number. After advertising 1-800-HURT-911, he saw immediate results with a monthly advertising budget of only $4,200 and is now successfully advertising. He began advertising 1-800-HURT-911 on billboards, radio and giveaways. Now he is interested in adding two more TV markets to his advertising campaign.
Surprisingly, two of those law firms with very large advertising budgets have not bothered to license a 1-800 vanity telephone number. Also surprising is that law firms fortunate enough to have a vanity phone number almost always fail to brand their vanity phone number in their advertising.
Your TV advertising must stand out from among the others on TV, you must use a 1-800 vanity phone number so your audience can remember how to call you, and you must brand the 1-800 vanity phone number in your commercials.
Look for a vanity phone number that is 1-800. A vanity telephone number with another toll-free area code such as 1-888, 1-877 or 1-866 is substantially less effective than a 1-800 vanity telephone number. Many people hearing or even seeing a phone number with any other area code, will instinctively dial 1-800. The 1-800-MATTRESS case is a famous example where a company was successfully advertising 1-212-MATTRESS® until another company obtained 1-800-MATTRESS and started selling mattresses to all of the people who heard or saw 212, but dialed 1-800. Once 1-800-MATTRESS started answering the phone, calls to 212-MATTRESS all but disappeared. 212-MATTRESS had the foresight to obtain a trademark and successfully stopped the other company from selling mattresses from their 1-800-MATTRESS vanity phone number. The lawsuit was settled by transferring the 1-800-MATTRESS vanity phone number to the company that had the trademark on 212-MATTRESS. I know a lawyer in New York who has a 1-888 vanity phone number he advertises on TV. A company in the garment business that uses the 1-800 numeric version of this lawyer’s vanity phone number sued the lawyer because of so many phone calls being received by the company in the garment business. The lawsuit was groundless, however, this was additional evidence of people calling a 1-800 number when they see a 188 number. I also have a 1-800 number being used in the real estate business which receives calls all day long from a web site which posted the 1-877 numeric version of the number. Although callers are looking at a 1-877 phone number on their computer screen, they still dial 1-800.
Look for a 1-800 vanity phone number that has no more than seven letters and digits. Vanity phone numbers using more than seven letters are no longer suitable for lawyer advertising because, nationwide, 90% of cell phone callers will not be connected if they dial an extra digit. 1-800-MATTRESS came up with a great slogan to eliminate their problem, “Dial 1-800-MATTRESS and leave off the last S for savings”.
Make sure you brand a 1-800 vanity phone number and not your law firm name. While everyone in California and New York knows the name of Jacoby and Meyers, no one can remember their phone number. Additionally, make sure that you brand a 1-800 vanity phone number by using a message in your advertising. For instance, I just saw a poster advertising a 1-800 vanity phone number that spelled the word help (1-800-4-XXXX-HELP). While this vanity phone number is a 1-800 vanity phone number and has a word matching the type of law being advertised for, it has too many letters and most importantly, the advertising failed to incorporate a branding message. The advertising said “If you’ve been exposed to X”, call us and showed the phone number. The advertising should have used the slogan “If you’ve been exposed to X, we can HELP you”, call 1-800-4-XXXX-HELP. I brand 1-800-HURT-911 with the slogan “When you’re HURT in an accident call 911, then call 1-800-HURT-911”. This method is very effective in branding a vanity phone number and will result in people calling you even long after seeing your advertising.
Finally, make sure a live person can answer the calls in your office. Many callers do not like leaving messages on voicemail and will hang up if a live person doesn’t answer.