Finding & Funding
How legal funding differs from a loan is that the plaintiff makes no monthly payments and doesn’t have to repay the lender until the lawsuit ends. What’s more, if the plaintiff loses the lawsuit, then the debt doesn’t have to be repaid at all. Other differences are that plaintiffs applying for legal funding need to put up no collateral, and they can’t apply for funding prior to the lawsuit being filed. Legal funding isn’t intended to help you pay for a lawyer; rather, it’s to make other payments while a lawsuit is under way.
When Oasis Legal Finance started in 2003, the company funded patent litigation, but it has since spun off funding for business lawsuits into a separate unit, Oasis Capital Corporation, and focused on funding individuals. While the consumer market involves much smaller dollar amounts, Chodes notes that the potential market is far larger. The only trouble, of course, is reaching that market effectively.
Turning to TV
Oasis initially tried to develop its consumer funding business through direct mail. “We had worked in acquisition mail, and the challenge there was acquiring the lists,” says Mike Olsen, chief marketing officer for Oasis. “There’s not many lists of plaintiffs in lawsuits that you can rent. We had done significant testing in developing the resources to be able to mail to them, but we were finding it too difficult.”
As a result, most of Oasis’ advertising consisted of building a presence on the Internet through pay-per-click advertising, organic search and, in Chodes’ words, “elementary optimization.” “Our first year,” which focused solely on corporate clients, he says, “was relatively modest, although it did give us the model for building Web presence.”
“We knew that we wanted to do DRTV (direct response television marketing) to expand the distribution channels,” says Olsen, “but as a start-up, you don’t want to invest the personnel to build an agency in-house.” After contacting a number of agencies, Oasis chose SendTec, a multichannel integrated direct marketing agency with offices in St. Petersburg, Fla. and New York, to take charge of both a DRTV campaign as well as Oasis’ search engine marketing.