Posted by Andy Cullwick, head of marketing at Legal Futures Associate First4Lawyers
Business should be booming in the personal injury sector right now.
The cost-of-living crisis coupled with the ‘no win, no fee’ chance for genuinely injured claimants to recover damages without paying a penny upfront should be a no-brainer, right? Wrong.
It’s a conundrum that many of us have tried and so far failed to answer as to why, at a time of economic hardship for many, when we would usually see a surge in enquiries, the volume of claims is at an all-time low.
Data from the Compensation Recovery Unit – obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) – shows the number of road traffic accident cases in particular has fallen by almost half (44%) since 2018.
You can hang your hat on Covid, the whiplash reforms and ensuing delays following the premature launch of the Official Injury Claim portal, or even the supposed stigma still attached to the idea of seeking compensation following an accident.
However, perhaps one of the main reasons is that people simply aren’t aware of their right to claim. Instead of playing the blame game, it’s time we as an industry did something about it.
Encouragingly, research for our latest White Paper – Trust me, I’m a lawyer – Marketing legal services in 2023 – found that six in 10 law firms have recently upped or were planning to up their marketing spend. Many said they were still catching up after limited activity in 2020 and 2021.
It is not just the money being put in but the platforms it is being put into that we should be examining here.
Traditional marketing tactics like events, print advertising and, for those with a bigger budget, TV, have been replaced by more below-the-line methods, largely online ones such as data insights and analytics, paid-for social media, and search and display.
There is undoubtedly a place for these – more than one in 10 firms said social media was their most effective marketing tool, for example – but has using it in place of more mainstream, mass marketing led to a drop in public awareness?
For me, you still can’t beat TV for its sheer reach and brand building power and that’s why First4Lawyers continues to advertise and has done for more than a decade now.
Interestingly, we even see an uptick in enquiries when our competitors have TV ads running – almost as if it acts as a reminder to consumers of their right to claim.
Since the disembodied head of Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared on our screens urging people to claim for payment protection insurance compensation, and in so doing caused a surge in other types of claims, the market has been in gradual decline.
Many firms have adapted by changing their business models or switching to less problematic areas of law, which is good news for their survival but less so in terms of access to justice for injured claimants who now find themselves with fewer places to turn to for help.
We are starting to see some green shoots of recovery, but perhaps a different approach is needed.
A genuine collective, working collaboratively with the likes of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and ACSO, but with the sole aim of creating and executing successful marketing campaigns that reach potential claimants and inform them of their rights and routes to redress.
The idea of competitors coming together and investing time and money in this non-branded approach, particularly when budgets are stretched, may seem counter-intuitive, but it may also be the only way we will see the market bounce back.
A version of this article first appeared on Insurance Claims