Many large law firms seem to continually increase their TV advertising budgets in all broadcast markets, which leave smaller firms feeling at a disadvantage when it comes to effectively marketing themselves due to their budgetary limitations. A smaller marketing budget should not preclude the smaller firms from marketing, and there are ways that these firms can increase the success of their marketing efforts.
That said buying your own media and saving the 15% commission is definitely not one of those ways. Aside from the fact that it is a full time job that requires substantial knowledge, it is akin to a layman litigating his own case in court. When you call a local TV station, your call will be passed on to a sales person whose job it is to sell you air time on their station. Even when you get a highly experienced salesperson that researches your practice and its competitors and understands the marketplace; they have a vested interest in having you spend as much of your budget as possible with their station.
In addition you will be quoted full retail rates from the rate card. Ad agencies with professional media buying services are not only quoted wholesale rates, they have a greater understanding of how the rates are constructed. In practice, the 15% is not so much an agency commission as it is a discount for the volume of business an agency can send to a station. After all, your law firm is a single client with a specific budget. Agencies can send many clients to a station in a market that they work in consistently. When you use an ad agency to recommend and purchase your media, the skill set that they have can actually get you greater exposure for the same dollars, even with the 15% commission.
An experienced media planner knows that there is more to the decision than just dollars and rating points. The specialized knowledge of your sphere of business and your marketing objectives are just a couple of the considerations. By buying certain types of schedules we are able to add value to your buy and ensure a lower pre-emption rate. After all it doesn’t matter what the spots cost if they never run, or if your make goods are run at the wrong time. Our media director has over 30 years of experience and understands how the stations build their rates from the bottom up. That provides the opportunity to receive upgrades to higher value spots when your spots don’t run as planned. The long-standing relationships he has built and his influence help to not only ensure that you get what you pay for, but even more bonus weight in the schedule to help meet your law firm’s marketing objectives. Most law firms wouldn’t even know what to ask for to get the extras.
While it may be impossible to have greater visibility than a large firm that is outspending you geometrically, the right tactics and knowledge help level the playing so that you can carve out your own niche and grow your business while working with a budget that is livable and realistic.