This month we talk to Steve Ratner, the Principal and CCO of Ivy Creative, a creative services agency that helps many types of businesses in their branding, promotion, marketing, and commercial production efforts. Steve has been honored with 14 Emmys, 6 Tellys, 8 PROMAX and BDA Awards, so he knows a thing or two about creating award-winning, results-oriented marketing strategies.

Let’s focus on how lawyers can use the power of TV commercials to increase their business. Is there an art to TV spot buying?
For many small and medium firms TV is a great way to advertise your brand. It maximizes your reach and through audio and video helps to create an emotional connection with the viewer. Determine who your core client is. Who are you truly selling to? This will help focus your message and define where your advertising should run. Don’t waste your budget on people who don’t care about your services.

What should a firm consider when placing TV ads?
There are a couple of things to consider when buying TV – you will save money if you commit to a multi-week spot package. TV stations like to know where their money is coming from long term. When you commit to that multi-week package, negotiate added value. TV stations will often have unsold inventory where they will run your spot for free.

Take advantage of local market conditions. If the market is soft, negotiate better rates. During political races, inventory tends to tighten and get more expensive. If you do not need to be on TV, rest your spots. Look to buy advertising at the beginning of a week rather than the end. Sometimes commercial inventory gets tighter and more expensive as it gets closer to the weekend. Develop partnerships with stations. Get to know the station management. Relationships have its advantages. You often will get better service from your sales rep at a station if you pay for your schedule up front or on time.

How do TV ads fit into a law firm’s bigger marketing strategy?
TV is the best way to build brand identity and to make a connection with the viewer. It positions your firm as a leader and an expert. It builds awareness for your unique brand, helps you stay relevant and top of mind. Done right, the message will drive potential clients to call the firm and go to your website.

How often should attorneys have their TV ads air?
Some of our clients are on every day, some are on three weeks out of every month and some are on several weeks a quarter. It all depends on how established their brand is, who is their target, how hard that target is to reach, how saturated the market is and the goals they have set.

Too few impressions and you will not break through. Establishing the right reach and frequency is key. If your media buy is not strong enough and it is spread too thin, it is not going to be very effective. Once you have defined your audience, an agency can analyze the market and help you determine the best and most cost effective way of reaching that target.

What is an appropriate Advertising / Marketing budget?
This can vary greatly depending on how strong your brand is, market conditions, your competition and where your business is located. As a rule we recommend 7-9% of your gross sales. If you are just first developing your brand or launching a new service, you should budget closer to the 9%. If you already have strong brand recognition in the market, 7% may be adequate. It all depends on the strength of your brand and messaging. Also, the cost of advertising can vary based on your business location. Advertising in a top ten market like Philadelphia can be more expensive and less efficient than advertising in a smaller city or market. Staying top of mind with prospective customers and out in front of competitors is your goal.

Any other tips for law firm TV advertising?
Like all advertising, you need to stick with it. TV advertising takes a while to make an impact, so it pays to stick with it to get results. Make sure your advertising and marketing is true to your brand. Create well produced and well written spots. A poorly produced spot reflects badly on your brand. Develop relationships with the television stations that you are doing business with. Offer yourself as a legal expert when their news department needs an attorney to explain or comment on a legal story. This helps to reinforce your firm as an expert and not just another TV advertiser.

About Author

Krystina Steffen is a former contributor to Bigger Law Firm Magazine.

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