Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Marketing

Marketing for criminal clients has always been a problem. Advertising to the general public about a firms criminal department never usually works as the people you are trying to reach often fail to respond to such adverts. Word of mouth is king, and reputations are very important.

If a person is arrested on a regular basis it is likely that they will have had contact with solicitors before - it is also likely that they will fit in to a stereotypical social group i.e. they have a low income and have some form of addiction (either drug or alcohol related). Trying to advertise services to this social group is pointless, particularly as they are usually going to be entitled to legal aid and therefore there is no price competition in the market. Word of mouth for these Clients works on this basis:


Mr. A: The Police want to arrest me, they came round to my house last night when I was out.
Mr. B: Who is your solicitor?
Mr. A: Joe Bloggs and Co. But last time I didn't get bail.
Mr. B: Nah, don't use them. My mate was arrested the other day and he got bail. Use Smith and Partners.
Mr. A: But I heard they work with the Police.
Mr. B: Really? Oh, use my solicitors then.

Clients rarely judge solicitors on a variety of performance factors, they usually judge whether or not they are going to get bail and whether or not they will be locked up for long. The more regular Clients will often build up a relationship with one particular firm or solicitor so that marketing criminal defence services becomes even more difficult.

The other night I was at a Police Station and I saw that a local firm was handing out key rings to it's criminal clients. The key rings had the firms name on it and the emergency contact telephone number. It is a simple idea, but unlikely to set the world on fire. I once worked for a firm that sent out key rings to Clients. The firm advertised that it worked in the area of 'public law' by proclaiming to have expertise in 'pubic law'. A few years ago a trend was set by firms creating plastic business cards that were effectively indestructible. These plastic cards were handed out to clients and they did not fall apart like business cards made from card - the only problem with plastic business cards was that the Police would take them away from Clients at the Police Station because some Clients would use the card to self harm and try to slit their own wrists! Imagine that, finding out that a Client had killed himself using your business card!

I sat discussing marketing ideas with a colleague today. We drew up a shortlist of marketing ideas that are unlikely to succeed, but are likely to prove popular in the short term:

  1. Branded alcohol or cigarettes. The cause for getting in to trouble could be getting drunk. Everyone remembers what they were drinking before their memory fades, a branded bottle of drink would remind Clients to give you a call. Also every Client wants a cigarette at the Police Station, regardless of whether or not they smoke. Branded cigarettes would remind the Clients who to call when arrested.
  2. Advertising space on Police Cell ceilings. What can you do when you have been arrested and placed in to a cell? Not a lot. Many Police Cells have the crime stoppers telephone number printed/sprayed on the ceiling. That ceiling is valuable advertising space. When a Client is detained at the Police Station 9 times out of 10 they will got to sleep and look at the ceiling.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

What about a link/sponsorship deal with a tattoo parlour?

Your clients would never lose it then!

Anonymous said...

Greetings !

I am very impressed with your Blog. I also have a question for as a criminal solicitor. Could I be charged against if I had carry a wood in order to protect myself from youths. They had all kind of weapons which police had taken for evidence. I would very much so appreciate your support.

Anonymous said...

Gavin, I'm sorry to pour water on your superb idea of ceiling advertising put I think you'll find most have adverts for drink/drug rehabilitation and crimestoppers!! After all you've got to try!

Gavin said...

Sorry, I don't give out advice to people unless I am working in an 'official' capacity. You could call me cautious but I am insured to give advice whilst at work, but posting advice on a blog is not going to be covered by my professional indemnity insurance.

Have a look at this site:

http://www.swarb.co.uk/phpbb/viewforum.php?f=14

It is likey that you will get some advice, or helpful pointers there.

Not Saussure said...

Depends on your marketing strategy, I think. As you say, recommendations are very important, particularly when you have a captive audience, as it were, which is why some firms make a point of going very well equipped with cigarettes when they're visiting clients on remand and which they leave with them -- quite seriously, as I understand it, this leads to quite a lot of people deciding to change their representation.

Combined with this, and I know one very successful criminal defence practice who do it (it was my late wife who suggested it to them, though I'm not sure if it was her idea or if she found it in a novel), is to ensure that, whenever possible, your solicitors are assisted in such visits by good-looking paralegals with short skirts. Probably best to get a woman to propose the idea, but I think you'll find it meets favour with the chaps in the practice.

Hoddy said...

Surely, your best 'marketing' opportunity is to 1st timers. E.g.: the middle classes who, after alcohol, find themselves at risk of blemishing their spotless records. As they don't _plan_ to commit crime, they won't remember adverts. So the people to market to are Custody Sergeants. Get them to push your services to the well off/ bemused/ new to the 'system' ones.

Hoddy

Anonymous said...

How about coming to a deal with the local off licences/tobacco retailers? They could have a supply of cards next to the till/fags cabinet.
"Alarm just gone off, no time to get out before the cops arrive?
you're in deep sh*t aren't you? call Gavin on 0123 456789 when you
get to the station"

Anonymous said...

I've always thought baseball caps would be a good idea - "s.18/20/47/39 etc. by xxx & Co": a) the little cunts will have your firm's name drummed into their heads by constant exposure to those of their mates, and b) it gives them something to aim for if you make sure the cap fits the crime.

As regards plastic business cards, I was told by a senior partner of one "large" London firm that hands out "gold" plastic cards that the hope was that the clients would use them for chopping coke. Most of their clients. however, are crackheads.

James said...

Somehow I can't see you selling the police on the idea of using cell ceilings for advertising space; I'm pretty sure it's against regulations anyway.

Anonymous said...

We have handed out lighters to clients with great success. It has a rhyming slogan on it that they can remember when drunk / very drunk or high. 'Be bright get ....'

It works and at 16p a shot you can't lose.

Archbold, the cat

Android said...

Oh noo, not the new generation of police van chasers :(

On the subject, if they advertise early guilty plea discount at police stations (or so I've heard), why not advertise criminal defence solicitors? :)

Ads on cigaretts would be a brilliant idea!

Brad V. Shuttleworth said...

what about renting advertising space on inmates' chest, arms and back in the form of tattoos?

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