I saw an add by Ken Hardison for PILMMA, a marketing firm for lawyers, that made a whole lot of sense to me if I were advertising. As I thought about it, it occurred to me the same fourteen principles outlined in the advertisement really apply to trials. Here are the principles:
1. Who is your target audience? When we try cases we need to think about who are jurors are and what they want or expect. He says: “research can help.” Certainly we know that focus group research helps and is often essential.
2. You must develop a unique selling proposition. The ad explains this means you need to figure out what it is about your services stand out among your competitors. For trial lawyers we need to demonstrate total honesty, trustworthiness and sincerity about our case. We need to stand out as the person the jury can trust and rely upon . We need to be unique in being totally ourselves and not pretending to be somebody else so that we stand out as unique in the courtroom.
3. Brand. The ad says that each ad must have the same logo colors and consistency of brand. What we need to do as trial lawyers is develop a theme that represents the key issue in the case from our perspective that is unique and is consistently followed throughout the trial.
4. Benefits versus features. The ad explains that you must promote the benefits of using your services. It points out that consumers don’t care about you as they have only one burning question in their mind: “what’s in it for me?” The ad says that we must always answer this question first before all else. Many lawyers make the mistake of presenting their case from an intellectual and logical standpoint assuming the weight of evidence will control the outcome. But, the jurors are consciously or subconsciously asking themselves: how does this case impact me or those who are important to me? That’s one of the motivators behind the concept of Reptile, that is if we allow this defendant to get away with this it will affect us in some way.Verdict motivation comes primarily from the belief that the action taken by the verdict will benefit the juror, their family or community.
5. You are not your prospect. The ad points out that one should not make the mistake of believing that because you like a proposed ad layout that the potential client will like it. When I read that I thought of how many times I have said to other lawyers the worst type of person you can ask advice from about your trial is another lawyer if you are trying to find out what will appeal to the jury. If you want to know how ordinary people on a jury might react to your case ask ordinary people. That’s what focus groups are all about.
6. Create laser focused ads. Mr. Hardison explains that you need to figure out who your target audience is and find a compelling message directed at them. Trial lawyers need to keep their cases short and simple. Their major points should not exceed three in number and they should be consistent throughout the trial focused on the theme and issues.
7. There are key questions that must be answered according to the ad. What is it? What is it about? What do I get? The jurors arrived at the courthouse wondering what is this case about? Why is the plaintiff suing? How much does the plaintiff want? What does the defendant say about? Trial lawyers need to identify the key questions in the minds of the jurors and begin answering them as soon as possible.
8. Headlines are king. Mr. hardison says: “you only have 3 to 5 seconds to capture someone’s attention.” He says that he writes anywhere from 20 to 50 headlines for an ad before he makes a final decision. He says that the purpose of the headline is to capture the reader. Everything he says about headlines at apply to trial and trial lawyers.
9. Split test when practical. The ad suggests that in order to know if that is working one needs to use two versions with one change and test to see which works. Certainly with focus studies one can present issues, evidence and exhibits in different ways for two different groups to see what works best. The benefit of a focus group is that you can test the marketing of your presentation.These
10. Track your ads results. The obvious point is made that one needs to have a way to check to see whether or not the ad is working. When I read this I thought about shadow jurors. Employing people to sit through at least the early part of trial can give you invaluable feedback as to the results of your work.
11. Testimonials. The end points out that testimonials are the most beneficial ways to advertise. Certainly in trial the impression made by our witnesses is the most important aspect of the testimony presented. The quality of our witnesses and the impression they make reflect and a significant way upon us as trial lawyers and our case.
12. Simple headlines. The recommendation is that: “your headline should be in simple language. Your prospects will not stop to decipher the meaning of an obscure headline.” That thought really flashed out page to me. Our whole goal is to make our communications simple and understandable. Our exhibits must be a “headline in simple language.” We must avoid demonstrating how intelligent we are and how many technical words we know. Short and simple should be our goal at all times.
13. Don’t sell, educate. He points out that people love to buy, but hate to be sold to. That is equally true with jurors. They will resist your attempts to sell. They will however hang on to the conclusions they arrived at themselves because you educated them to make the decision. Like all good sales professionals our job is not to pressure, but to lead people to their own conclusions. Their conclusions they will own and will defend.
14. Repeat your winners. The ad says that when something works you should not change if what you’re doing works. While we as trial lawyers must always be open to learning and modifying for improvement, we must guard against adopting approaches that are not consistent with who we really are. The basic principles of being genuine truthful and sincere are still the winning combination for trial lawyers.
I haven’t used the services of PILMMA, but this is an excellent summary for marketing and if were looking I would check with this company. I think we are in the sales profession every time we go to court and we should study ethical principles of persuasion and sales.