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October 22, 2008

A Possible New Advertising Venue for Lawyers?

Not too long ago I posted about what we all could learn about marketing from the presidential elections.  Because it focused on Obama's marketing campaign, its laser-focus on a specific demographic and its successful execution, I got some flak as it being a thinly veiled attempt at political persuasion.  It wasn't and it still isn't. It is purely about creating a marketing message which resonates with its intended audience and careful execution and delivery of that message through the venues the intended audience uses, something which has been the focus of news commentators of late.

WarningIf you don't want to read another brilliant marketing lesson from this campaign - an idea we will see used more and more by advertisers of products and services - do NOT read further.

That being said, the other day I saw another brilliant marketing/advertising gambit by the very same campaign to reach their target audience and to get them to register to vote specifically in swing states.  The Obama campaign contacted the distributor of the popular X-box game and had a virtual billboard taken out within the game itself (the billboard was on the road as the driver zoomed by) with Obama's name and his marketing message promoting change but inserted and distributed only in those swing states.  In another game which simulates basketball, you can see his message courtside like you would see at an actual basketball game.

I don't care who you are voting for.  This is just brilliant targeted marketing and exemplifies what I have talked about: marketing your message in the venue where your client is.  If 18-35 year olds are your audience and they are the very same ones buying these games, games they spend hours on and games in which they will repeatedly see your message...and their family and friends, too...it is big bang for your buck directed specifically at your potential audience.  And because it is in states still in play it was very shrewd and very focused.

This type of marketing reminds me of the very first time I saw a bag of Doritos and a can of Mountain Dew as a reward on the hit reality show Survivor.  This was a direct response to the latest VCR phenomenon where the target audience could fast forward through commercials.  Advertisers paid big bucks to have their target audience eliminate their commercial via the latest technology - the VCR. Therefore, how could they get their audience to see the product?  Make it part of the television show.  Just as Coca Cola has paid to have the judges on American Idol drink from Coca Cola cups during the show. This is no different.  Make your message and service part of the game.  Of course, this concept isn't new as cigarette companies have been promoting their product and brands in movies while stars have puffed away for more than half a century.

With the popularity of Wii games, DS and Xbox many opportunities exist.  Ironically, I have an acquaintance who has a company who puts advertising in these types of games but it never clicked until I saw the Obama ads.  Of course, now, I'm going to have to talk to him about this when I see him.

It is also my understanding, this type of advertising is cheaper than TV commercials and considerably more effective but please don't ask me pricing.  I have yet to inquire.

(And on that same note, advertising in movie theaters is relatively inexpensive and while the economy is stressed, the active participation in staycations has seen an increase in theater going.)

So, how does this impact you, the solo.  Honestly, I'm not quite sure other than to get you thinking outside the box.  At this point in time, I could see larger statewide firms who handle Personal Injury work taking out virtual billboards in Xbox games with car crashes.  DUI lawyers taking out virtual billboards, too.  Class Action law firms looking for members of a class. Depending upon the game and the targeted audience, who knows. (I find this no different then traditional TV ads, Yellow Page ads, billboards or bus placards so please don't suggest to me this type of advertising will now demean the profession.  That argument was and lost years ago.)

It's also an opportunity for lawyer networks in a given practice area to be creative.  I'm just blue-skying here, but wow. 

Is it affordable for solos?  I don't know.  But I did want to bring it to your attention to get your creative juices going.  What opportunities are staring you in the face if only you would connect the dots?

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Larry Brown

I agree that this is a very clever marketing tactic. However, this could prove to be a very close election. I am not certain how I feel about the future of our nation possibly being decided by a young generation of video-game-a-holics.

In another context besides the race for, arguably, the most powerful position in the world, I think it is great.

I personally am disturbed that hundreds of millions of dollars are spent trying to convince *anyone* of legal age to vote a certain way. Pretty soon we may see ZigZag wrappers with a candidate's picture on them. The new "pot head" target group :)

It is a win at any cost game in which many times, IMHO, what should be the primary focus gets hazy or lost.

Susan Cartier Liebel

@Larry - your comments are noted. The marketing angle is the focus, though.

Think about this. with challenging economic times ahead, more people will be staying home. They will likely be using video games instead of going on vacation or out to dinner. This will be their entertainment. How will advertisers get in front of them...as the traditional venues change and dry up.

This is the focus. And it is worthy of attention. If one can get state specific advertising through 'the most popular game on the planet'...it's noteworthy.

Juan Gonzalez

I don't know why everyone has to turn this thing into a political angle.

The potential for marketing and promotion is incredible. Lets take games that simulate reality like Grand Theft Auto IV. I can see Ads all over the game come up when the character crashes his car, runs over a pedestrian, gets caught by the police, etc. Real life scenarios that give attorneys who specilize in that field an opportunity to advertize and get their brand out there.

Brilliant blog Susan. That's really thinking outside the box.


Susan Cartier Liebel

@Juan - thanks for realizing it's not about promoting a candidate but taking advantage of the brilliant marketing strategists the campaign has employed and learning from them in the greatest marketing/advertising campaign out there...the presidential race.

And the reason this race is so unbelievably unique is it is the first election run with all the advantages (and disadvantages) of 'new media.' (of course, one could make that argument for the first election when a TV was in almost every home.) But I'm mainly focused on today.

Larry Brown

As a purely tactical marketing strategy, I agree. The potential market is phenomenal and growing every day in our age of previously unheard of technology.


Question for blogging solos (or anyone else knowledgeable on the subject): To what extent do you expect or experience current client participation and readership of your blog and social media presence?

I ask because I imagine such loyal clients would, in the end, channel important new potential clients to you. I'm curious as I have no experience in the practice of all this just yet. I realize my question may involve client stewardship more directly, but I believe it's relevant here as a way of enhancing marketing through client stewardship. Anyone have thoughts or experiences?

Grant Griffiths

@Wes -- Let me see if I can tackle this one for you. I had a practice specific blog for over 3 years that I used to market my solo practice. (Now a recovering attorney doing blog consulting and design full time). The readership of my blog was outstanding. However, the key is to give them what they want and to give it to them in a form and fashion they can understand and use. And a well designed, maintained and updated blog does just that. The key is to give them relevant content. And to GIVE it to them with no strings attached.

Not only did my stats show I had return visitors, but I was also receiving new traffic on a daily basis. What was amazing was the fact I actually landed clients and good cases from it. I found the clients I did obtain were for the most part more qualified, too.

There were a number of times I would receive an email from someone who said, "so and so who reads your "website" told me I had to call you to see if you could help." This told me I was getting referrals not only from clients, but from readers of my blog.

Key point: doing a blog right, will position you as the place to come for information showing you as the solution for their problems. A well done blog will position you as a thought leader and opinion shaper in your particular niche and/or market.

I also know lawyers who are using Twitter very effectively. Not as much to get new clients, but to network with other lawyers and thought leaders. Linkedin has become a very good networking tool to not only network with other lawyers, but clients are looking at lawyer profiles on Linkedin for help with their issue or problem.

Finally, client stewardship. What better way to foster goodwill and presenting yourself and your public persona then to be a clearinghouse of information. That is something else a blog will do.

If you have any other questions please post them here in the comments so we can keep the conversation going on Susan's great blog.



I appreciate the account of your experiences--it reinforces the intuition I had regarding the interconnectedness of these issues. I believe your emphasis of giving should be reiterated. To be most effective, I personally believe that a lawyer's (or any other professional for that matter) blog should provide at least as much value to the community as the blogger derives from the community. Lawyers are blessed with a massive wealth of information that can be easily disseminated in a fashion that's manageable for the general public. I definitely agree with the idea of contributing to the community as a way of enhancing marketing efforts. It shows compassion and the ability to give freely that some folks probably assume lawyers lack entirely.

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