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:
- 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.
- 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.