How to Create Exceptional Law Firm Advertising
ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT IS KEY TO POWERFUL LAW FIRM ADVERTISING THAT CONVERTS SEARCHERS INTO LEADS, AND LEADS INTO CLIENTS.
It’s important to understand that advertising is a science as well as a creative endeavor. Advertising can be a feel-good exercise, but it can also be a strategic weapon that propels your law firm ahead of the competition. Any spending on advertising should be planned, measured, and analyzed after placement to determine its ROI. Most law firms’ marketing budgets are finite; and to get the most bang for your buck out of the money you spend, you must be able to measure results. Otherwise, advertising spending can be willy-nilly and ineffective.
There is no substitute for fresh, relevant content. Whether on your website, in marketing materials or in advertising, creating unique and compelling messaging requires focus, time and skill. Few law firms have this ability in house, and most need to hire an outside marketing agency to help with their advertising. That being said, a study of law firm advertising best practices can turn up hidden opportunities to get your message out into the public.
Dos and Don’ts of Law Firm Advertising
It’s important to remember what advertising can and cannot do for your law firm. Having unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment, while underestimating the power of advertising can cause you to settle for less than the best. Here are some law firm advertising dos and don’ts to keep in mind:
Do: Treat Advertising as a Brand-Building Tool
There’s a cumulative effect of advertising that is akin to compound interest in finance. While your initial investments may be small and seem to have little effect, the impact of consistent advertising over months and years can pack a wallop where your brand is concerned. Consistent and repeated brand signaling through advertising can cause your firm to become a household name over time.
Don’t: Treat Advertising as a Business Development Tool
Your telephone switchboard is not going to light up 24 hours after you’ve placed an ad on a local consumer website or in a monthly magazine. That’s just not how advertising works. One ad generally does not cause your phone to ring or a new prospect to walk through your front door. So, don’t treat advertising like an immediate business development tool. Advertising will do its job, but it takes time. Remember the compound interest effect.
Do: Pair Advertising with Community Engagement Initiatives
Advertising can be paired with community outreach to create brand awareness and goodwill. Whether your law firm sponsors a spelling bee, your attorneys volunteer their legal services to help the disadvantaged, or the firm awards summer internships to students, these initiatives garner positive press and create opportunities to get your name and logo out there. They can also create backlinking opportunities on the “sponsors” page of non-profits’ websites and complimentary ads in printed programs. Lawyers at the firm must be willing to get out into the community and participate, though. Interestingly, a law firm marketing study published by Thomson Reuters in 2017 (page 21) showed that “lack of lawyer engagement” was the single biggest marketing challenge for law firms. For ideas and tips about how to launch a community outreach initiative, read our Gladiator Law Marketing blog here.
Don’t: Be Disingenuous in Your Claims About Involvement in the Community
It’s important not to overstate your firm’s community involvement before you’ve done any. It’s hard to make a case for caring about the local community if your firm does little to contribute time or money to local non-profits and charities. Be sure any advertising or social media campaigns you develop accurately reflect your firm’s level of involvement in the local community. Overstating your “giving back” could backfire.
Do: Look for Affordable, Hyper-Local Advertising Opportunities and Negotiate Pricing
Because most personal injury, divorce, bankruptcy, or medical malpractice cases come from potential clients who live in your general geographic area, local and even hyper-local advertising can often be a better investment than costly television, billboard or large media advertising. This is especially true if you have a limited advertising budget. Consider banner ads on community newspaper digital sites, inserts in circulars, email campaigns, and other targeted, modestly priced advertising options. Remember that you can negotiate pricing, too.
Don’t: Buy Expensive Mass Advertising Unless You Have a Measurable Goal
The benefit of mass advertising (think TV, billboards) is that it’s seen everywhere. The drawback is that you’re paying to advertise to a whole lot of people who will never need your services. That’s not to say you should never launch big, expensive TV ad campaigns. It just means that if you do, it’s wise to have a goal you can track and measure to determine your ROI. Remember to always size your advertising to your target market — especially if resources are limited.
Underutilized Advertising Opportunities for Law Firms
There are many ways to arrive at the end of the rainbow where advertising is concerned. With more and more people becoming comfortable with the digital universe, a whole host of new advertising options have arisen. Consider some of the following:
Geofencing & Geotargeting Advertising
Geofencing Advertising – This is a relatively new form of location-based law firm advertising. Think of it this way: View a local-area hospital or urgent care center on the map (geo), then draw a circle around the facility (the virtual fence). Your law firm’s ad will be triggered on a person’s smartphone every time they enter the hospital or urgent care center through your virtual fence. This is known as radius targeting. In addition to personal injury cases, mobile geofencing could be ideal for DUI attorneys (geofence bars and restaurants), car accident attorneys (geofence collision repair centers and body shops), and criminal attorneys (geofence jails and police stations). You can even geofence competing law firms to send ads to their potential clients.
Geotargeting Advertising – This provides a wider geographic net than a circle around a hospital or urgent care center. It can include an entire town. But to be effective, this type of mobile advertising is triggered based on an individual’s demographics in addition to their location. Geotargeting works best when demographics are narrowly defined. Filters can include income, age, behaviors, interests, affiliations, etc. Geotargeting is especially advantageous for law firms with niche practice areas.
This is a hybrid paid-for type of advertising that appears to the reader to be a news story written by a journalist. These ads typically have headlines, run in the editorial section of publications, and are newsworthy and educational in tone rather than promotional. They typically carry a small designation as “sponsored content” or something similar. They are considered “hidden” ads because they match the look and feel of regular news stories, and readers often cannot distinguish the difference.
If one of your attorneys are invited to speak at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast or Rotary Club lunch, encourage them to do so. Not only is it an opportunity to highlight your law firm’s expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E.A.T.), but it also increases your brand visibility. Your law firm’s name or logo is often included in the event’s program and signage.
Digital Audio Advertising
Digital audio advertising can take place during popular podcasts or on music sites like Spotify and others. These outlets cause consumers to identify your ad with favorite music, topical discussions, and areas of interest. Generally, users listen to podcasts or music in a distraction-free environment, which means your ads get their full concentration. Digital audio advertising also enables you to filter and target your ideal audience.
Everybody is writing a blog these days, and one or more of your attorneys can, too. They can blog on your own law firm website, be a guest blogger on a professional law-related site or find a myriad of other hosting possibilities to get their ideas and your law firm’s name out into the public. Many attorneys tend to be good writers, so personal blogs are not hard to do. Be sure to include your law firm logo at the top or in the signature block.
Here’s the Takeaway
There are many, many new and exciting opportunities for law firm advertising these days. Many of them are in the digital space, but some tried-and-true advertising venues like publications and billboards are also offering innovative advertising options. The good news is that not all advertising is expensive – some of it is quite affordable – which means advertising is not out of reach for even modest marketing budgets. These newer digital advertising opportunities also enable you to target potential clients with granular accuracy so that every advertising dollar you spend is aimed at someone who might need your legal services. Above all, be sure to plan, track and analyze all of your advertising so you can determine positive ROI. If you’d like to learn more about marketing your law firm, contact a Gladiator Law Marketing professional today at 1-888-683-3212.
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