Here is the second part of our blog series entitled: Developing and Funding a Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Practice.
In this post we will take a look into the other areas of Personal Injury Legal Marketing.
Existing and Past Clients
Past and existing clients are an excellent source of referral business. When someone has been seriously injured in an accident, their friends, family, acquaintances and neighbours generally know about it. If one of these people subsequently suffers an injury in an accident they are likely to turn to the person that they know has gone through the same experience for guidance. If the person is still an existing client of yours and you have been doing a good job on their behalf, the referral should come easily. Past clients on the other hand are a different story. They are potentially a huge source of word of mouth business that grows over time as your practice expands, but too many lawyers neglect to maintain any form of relationship with past clients once they have completed their file. You need to create an opportunity to remind your past client of your name and address. Remembering this is an easy task for the first several years after file completions, but becomes increasingly difficulty after a number of years. Your past client may simply assume that you have changed address or that you may not still be practicing personal injury law and not want to bother you with a referral. Maintaining a data base of past clients who you send a firm newsletter or holiday card to is an easy task and helps to remind people that you are still alive, well and practicing personal injury law.
Health Care Practioners
In the same way that an injured person seeks out someone that they know who has been through an accident related injury, so to do people seek out community health care practioners who are known to have experience with treating accident victims. Local physiotherapists, occupational therapists, chiropractors and family doctors are commonly asked to recommend a lawyer. Developing a strategy to become one of the lawyers on their “list” is crucial to nurturing this type of referral business. Generally, these people are busy and are not likely to be interested in simply going for lunch with you. However, if you can provide a value added service to them by way of a lunch and learn seminar, you will have a much easier time getting their attention. Look for opportunities to write a paper that explains something new that will be important to their practice and then call the person in charge and ask if they would be interested in having you discuss your paper with their group. The recent changes to the auto insurance Regulations is a perfect example. Our office routinely puts on seminars and webinars for health care practioners where hundreds of people attend or watch online.
Advertising your services can be done in a number of ways. There is general advertising to the public at large via such things as television and radio spots or print ads like newspapers and the yellow pages. In my experience, unless you have a very large budget, this type of advertising will meet with limited success. I have been told by people in the business of marketing that a huge saturation is required before a significant benefit is seen from television and radio advertising. Most firms simply do not have the budget for this type of marketing campaign.
Historically, Yellow page advertising was a staple of most personal injury lawyers marketing campaigns. My personal experience with Yellow pages was not favourable. I found that in larger centres like Toronto, there are so many ads for personal injury lawyers in the Yellow pages it was simply too expensive for the number of inquiries it generated. Also, the inquiries that we did receive were generally injuries of a minor nature; claims that our office is not designed to accept. More recently, there has been a trend away from large Yellow pages campaigns with a shift in these advertising dollars going to internet search engine optimization. It is predicted that this trend will continue over the coming years as the percentage of the population that grew up with the internet being the main source of information becomes the dominant majority.
A visually appealing website with meaningful content is a must for any personal injury law firm. A strategy for attracting traffic to your site continues to take on more significance be it pay per click ads, blogging or linking. I am not an expert on internet search optimization and suggest that you speak to one if you intend to spend money in this area.
Other more targeting campaigns that you may wish to consider is advertising in the Hospital Newspaper. These are available for free in most of the major hospitals across Ontario. Additionally, you may wish to consider advertising in the O.R.s, the Law Times, Lawyers Weekly and other legal publications. Lastly, consider placing an advertisement or, even better, write an article for the CPAO publications, OBIA publications and other smaller community support groups for individuals who have suffered traumatic injury.
Our next blog post in this series will discuss developing systems for document gathering and file development and its importance through the various stages of litigation.