By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Have you hugged a lawyer today? If you’re managing a talk station, you should. Just several decades ago, they didn’t even advertise. Back to the future: Few advertising categories are more opportune now.
Attorneys’ ads are everywhere. On dueling billboards, the head shots are either a tough-guy-on-your-side pose, or that trust-me smile real estate agents all wear. TV spots are often amateurish and overstated, begging for attention and playing on the advertiser’s ego. In both media, phone numbers often spell something (which is smart). But…
No medium showcases legal services better than talk radio.
Why: Advertising is noise. Consumers are now SO bombarded that they tune-out pitches. But we lean-into storytelling. It’s human nature. And IF properly executed, weekend call-in shows are one story after another. Callers’ relatable situations let listeners eavesdrop, and showcase hosting attorneys’ approachable expertise.
Though I make a point not to overdo Caps Lock, “SO” and “IF” in the paragraph above are the ballgame. Effective fundamental performance technique and adequate station promotion can yield big bucks, for the lawyer and the station he or she loves.
“The lawyer is in; the meter is off.”
It’s the oldest, most consistently successful concept in marketing: free samples. The attorney will know that the show is working when callers ask, without being invited to: “Can I call you at your office on Monday?”
Compared to competitors’ garish billboards and tacky TV spots, helpful on-air Q+A with a radio call-in lawyer gives listeners what smart radio sales reps give prospects, “a spec spot,” of the attorney’s experience and supportive manner. Hearing is believing; and fundamentals matter.
One of the things I do for client stations is coach-up weekend warriors, the attorneys and real estate agents and veterinarians and foodies and other how-to hosts who aren’t native broadcasters. And I’ve worked with ask-the-expert hosts in markets where I don’t even have a station. They find me because nobody at the station is helping them do a high-yield show. Time you invest helping your station’s weekenders become more-polished broadcasters is well worth it.
Success factor: Call volume.
When it’s one-caller-after-another, the host sounds pre-eminent, and callers’ questions are more likely to be relatable to listeners and reflect marketplace demand. “I wish!” you’re thinking, if you’re already doing a weekend call-in show, and you’re hearing crickets.
To light-up your lines, talk to the station’s whole cume, not just those weekend Quarter Hours. Too many weekend shows are well-kept secrets, exposed only on the weekend. Instead, if the station’s whole audience knows the whole station:
- They have more reasons to keep coming back, “to bookmark” in web parlance. Research tells us that the most efficient way to grow Share is by adding Occasions.
- You’re making the station useful to, for instance, someone with a legal question.
- ROS exposure markedly improves the attorney’s results; so he or she remains a client; and…
- Less weekend programming turnover makes the station more familiar and habitual to listeners and less of a headache to management.
How: ROS commercials.
- Spots within brokered shows ABOUT the business brokering is like writing “banana” on the yellow peel. The show itself is the commercial. When my client is the law firm, I advise that they insist on swapping in-show commercial inventory for weekday daytime spots.
- Best bet might be “Monday verticals:” avails throughout-the-day on the weekday when inventory is most-available, which just happens to be the beginning of the week during which the attorney invites listeners to call or visit for that “no-cost-no-obligation confidential consultation.”
- Voicemail: Invite “your legal question, in strict confidence, twenty-four-seven” at a phone number that spells something. “I’ll get back to you within 24 hours!” Many of those messages can be excerpted as on-air callers. And everyone who leaves a message is a warm lead.
- Ditto Email: Included in the bundle the station sells could be an Email address like email@example.com, which, with repetition, is useful to all parties.
- When Law is pertinent to news story du jour (i.e., Roger Stone), use your weekend warrior as “WXXX Legal Analyst, and host of…”
- Plug the show in the attorney’s other media (billboards, TV). Otherwise, all that non-radio media is merely branding. Using the reach of those other media to drive traffic to the radio show moves prospects through the Sales Funnel, by inviting interaction.
Success factor: Call screening.
Having all the callers that doing all of the above will bring lets the host pick-N-choose those whose issues are most pertinent to his or her practice. If, for instance, the attorney’s specialty is Elder and Trust Law (HUGE) or Family Law (translation: divorce, ALWAYS huge), airtime squandered on arcane Real Estate closing questions goes off-topic.
Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of the e-book “Holland Cooke: Greatest Hits” from Talkers Books. Click the ad banner on this page for an instant download. And HC hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America. Read HC’s Monday Memo each week at Talkers.com, and follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke