If not, here is a step-by-step primer on this growing local ad category, including how to get started, what kinds of questions to ask potential advertisers, how to talk to lawyers, how to create a strong value proposition and which dayparts are the best fit for which types of legal ads.
The legal category is a growing ad category nationwide, in markets big and small. Regardless of a stations’ programming, one thing that stands clear is the power of local broadcast TV to drive new customers to this category.
On Jan. 31, NAB and TVB presented the first installment of their 2012 Account Executive Sales Seminar series. Brad Seitter, VP of business development and marketing at TVB, led the discussion. I was a panelist along with Preston Becker, account executive/team leader, KXRM Colorado Springs, Colo., and Lloyd Bucher, director or sales, WPTV West Palm Beach, Fla.
Here are some takeaways and helpful hints.
Legal is big business and is a big category. What are the main categories within the legal category itself?
- Divorce/child support
- Personal injury
- Bankruptcy and debt consolidation
- Wills and trust/probate
- Worker’s compensation
- Social Security disability
- Class action mega suits (national)
- Wrongful termination
- Intellectual property
The top spenders would be in personal injury, DUI/traffic, bankruptcy/debt consolidation, divorce/child support, and criminal. From 2009 to 2011, the legal services allocated between 62.4% and 66.8% of all spending to local TV.
So, how do you get started? By prospecting. Here are some tips for doing that:
- Watch the competition
- Monitor other broadcast channels, as well as cable and radio
- Read local business journals
- Don’t forget that Google is your friend
- Use out-of-home, particularly billboards
- Use offline and online searches such as Yellow Pages, yp.com and local city searches
When you have your prospects in line, your next step should be to do a good client needs analysis. That involves:
- Continually asking questions, listening, qualifying (the opportunity for discovery for both parties)
- Discouraging “hot buttons”
- Building rapport
- Establishing trust
- Developing credibility
- Developing a valuable relationship
- Addressing objections
- Planning your next action steps
- Confirming understanding
- Seeking additional opportunity to serve and sell
- Evaluating responses and results
- Affirming the decision (minimize buyer’s remorse)
When asking questions, use open-ended ones as much as possible. They often lead to more productive discussions. And take good notes as they happen.
Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Sincerity and having a businesslike approach conveys instant respect. Take a genuine interest in your prospect. The focus will pay big dividends. Think before you speak, and use good diction when you do. Lastly, pay attention to your non-verbal communication — make eye contact, be conscious of your body language and don’t forget to smile.
But it’s the questions that are key. While there are times when restricted, closed-ended questions are necessary when seeking specific information; answers are rarely a simple yes or no and require much more expansive discussion.
Use the key power question words: what, where, when, which, why, who and how.
With them, you help your prospect become more informative by leading him or her in a specific direction. They’re more productive in revealing their objectives, needs, wants and current situation.
Many AEs have no idea how to talk to an attorney. Here are some questions that will help you get started:
- What made you get into this profession?
- How long have you been in practice?
- Which types of law services do you provide?
- How many people and attorneys are in your office?
- How many offices do you have?
- Are your paralegals full time or part time?
- What do you want to be known as?
- How many cases do you have?
- How many do you want?
- What is the maximum you can handle with/without referrals to other attorneys? What type of cases have the best margin for profits?
- What is your phone/referral conversion?
- What is your retention factor?
- Where do you get your leads from?
- Give me two unique selling positions that a potential new client would react to when considering your law firm.
- When is your busiest time of year and the slowest time and why? What is your busiest day of the week and why?
- Why would someone go to your competition?
- What is keeping you from growing your case count? What are you doing to prevent, challenge or stop bad reviews, blogs, tweets, text attacks?
- What are you doing with Web/mobile?
- In regards to advertising, what has worked and why?
- What has failed and why?
- How do you change your clients?
- How do you get paid?
- Payment plan or in full?
- How long does it take to complete the legal process and close cases on DUI, debt, divorce, criminal and personal Injury?
Make sure you listen to their answers and feedback and when they ask questions regarding your station and programming, don’t forget to pause, take a beat, then answer.
And don’t forget to include a good value proposition.
Yes. A good value proposition communicates the main reason any potential client from the legal category should buy time from you, including a value and a benefit. It’s an offer that can satisfy your potential new customer’s needs and has justifiable R.O.I. It’s a quantifiable and specific call to action and a good value proposition should answer why, not what.
Many have asked about the best dayparts for different types of legal ads. Here are a few suggestions:
- Personal injury — daytime and late fringe
- DUI/traffic — daytime and late fringe.
- Bankruptcy — daytime, late fringe, morning news, early news, late news.
- Divorce — morning news, early news, late news.
- Criminal — daytime and late fringe.
- Wills, trust and probate — prime access.
Next steps would be the typical media questions that need to be addressed:
- Approve the schedule
- Get credit application and references
- Insert the schedule on-air
- Monitor and follow up with the client
- Measure results
- Invoice and collect payment
- Renew the schedule.
Developing new business in the legal category can be — and is — fun and very profitable, but before you set out on your prospecting, make sure you know a little about the bottom line of their business. Here are some facts to consider:
- Personal injury — no money down, firm makes $4,000-$8,000 per case, nine months to close.
- Bankruptcy/debt — $300-$600 down, $2,000-$4,000 per case, six months to close.
- Tax/IRS — $550-$950 fee, $5,000 and higher (on a sliding scale), 3-6 months to close.
- Workers comp — flat 33.3% fee, then up to 12% of total settlement back to firm, various to close.
- DUI — 0 down, $5,000-$12,000 per case, 90% paid in full (closes quick, bread & butter to the firm).
- Criminal — $5,000-$50,000 down, can mean big bucks to a firm, depending on the crime and the court calendar, various to close.
- Divorce — $7,500-$9,500 fee, settlement depending on value of assets, $30,000-$60,000 to the firm, closes varies depending on the complexity of the case. Can be a cash cow for many firms.
Good luck in your entry into this interesting area of advertising sales. I hope these tips lead you to great success in prospecting new business in the legal category.
Click here if you’d like more information about the NAB/TVB AE Sales Seminar Series.
Scott Heath is general sales manager of KSWB San Diego. All about sales and advertising, Sales Office appears once a month in TVNewsCheck through the cooperation of the TVB, which solicits the columns from its staff and members. To see all the columns in the series, click here.