Bail Bonds Marketing Is Tricky Business
At the end of the day, bail bonds are a commodity. The act of posting a bail bond is similar from one bail bondsman to the next. The procedures and protocols are dictated by courts, jails and state law, not the bondsmen themselves. Furthermore, the price charged by a bail bondsman is controlled by each respective state. So the battle for clients is won with marketing rather than superior products and pricing.
As an industry with no pricing power, bondsman marketing relies upon many creative guerrilla marketing methods not seen elsewhere. Conversely, as an industry intertwined with the legal system, it also is restricted from doing many things widely accepted in other places. Earlier this year, the Orange County Bail Agents Association sued the city of Santa Ana and Orange County for allowing some bail agents to solicit business in front of the courthouse and jail. What was the reason? The bail association took issue with the practice of aggressive flyer distribution and other guerrilla tactics near the government buildings.
More recently, a Santa Ana bail bondsman was arrested for allegedly soliciting bail business from inmates by mass mailing flyers to the Orange County jail and trying to arrange referral relationships with attorneys. Oddly enough, in California, bail bondsmen aren’t allowed to solicit business in jails, where it would seem they would be most likely to find their clients. In addition, California prohibits bail bondsmen from referring clients to attorneys even if they are not compensated for doing so.
The question then becomes, what impact do marketing and solicitation restrictions have on businesses? Are the rules biased towards new businesses trying to grab a foothold in their respective markets? Guerrilla marketing and aggressive sales practices are common for start-up companies in many industries. The reason is simple. They are cost effective and they work. By taking those methods off the table, are the established businesses put in an advantaged position since they can rely on higher brand recognition and larger budgets for traditional marketing activities?Continued on the next page