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3 Reasons Traditional Advertising Fails for Law Firm Marketing

Aug 25, 2008
If there's one truth in operating a successful, profitable law firm, it's this: you have to make more than you spend. In order to achieve this, you need clients cycling through your practice on a continuous basis; both new and repeat alike. While that's obvious enough to see, making it happen is often another story.

Law firm marketing isn't that much different than marketing any other kind of service business. With that in mind, you set about the task of getting the word out about whom you are, where you can be found and what services you offer. You place ads in local papers, several popular magazines, on the radio and even a few late night television spots. The consummate law firm marketing plan. Much money and time have been invested and anticipation is high. Then it happens: nothing.

Maybe it's just a time factor. Give it a little more time and you'll start to see some real results from all your time and money invested in advertising. But today is just like yesterday and after a while there are no real expectations that tomorrow will be any different. Many of your colleagues are doing well. You went to law school with some of them and know first hand they are no smarter than you. What is it they know that you don't? What is it in their law firm marketing plan that sets them apart from you?

Traditional advertising is one of the least effective forms of law firm marketing. Unfortunately, most lawyers equate marketing with advertising. The result is that you have wasted money and have no new prospective clients to show for it. Here are three major reasons why advertising in the traditional sense does not work.

1. It does not move people along in the sales cycle. It's only effective in the first stage when the client is getting to know you. It will not increase your likability or sense of trustworthiness.

2. Frequent advertising is too costly for most budgets. In his book "Guerilla Marketing Attack," Jay Levinson discusses a study conducted on advertising research quoted here in part: "Following a year-long study, researchers concluded that a law firm marketing message must penetrate the mind of a prospect a total of nine times before that prospect becomes a customer.

That's the good news. The bad news is that for every three times you expose your prospect to your marketing message, it gets missed or ignored two of those times. So you've got to put out the good word about your company a total of 27 times in order to make those nine impressions."

3. Most ads are often poorly designed or written, even to the point of being boring instead of influencing your target market.

With so many other forces vying for the time and attention of your target audience, advertisements live and die by the quality of the ad and the offer it extends. Most law firms list their services or give a couple "reasons" why they are the better law firm. Neither of which does anything to distinguish them from other lawyers in the same practice area.

There are certain advertising strategies you must remember when conducting any form of law firm marketing. For example, the size of your budget must be adequate to meet the demand. Be sure you have a large enough budget to expose your marketing message to your ideal target market. You need to be able to do this repeatedly over the course of the year using the same advertising medium.

In other words, if your advertising medium of choice is the radio, your budget should allow for weekly advertising on the same radio station for a full year. If this is out of your budget range, reduce the size of your market, increase your ad budget or change your advertising medium to a less expensive one.

For example, if you plan to advertise weekly in a local paper, but the largest one in the area is beyond your present budget, start with the weekly suburban paper instead.

What does all this mean? Focus your law firm marketing efforts on methods that actually work. Don't waste your time and budget on marketing that is not designed to produce the right results. Focus on your target audience, the best way for you to reach them and the most attractive way to present your services in order to keep them.
About the Author
Stephen Fairley is CEO of The Rainmaker Institute is the nation's largest law firm marketing company that specializes in helping small law firms generate more and better referrals and create a 7 figure law practice. Over 6,000 attorneys have benefited from our proven Rainmaker Marketing System. Attorneys: claim your FREE legal marketing CD '7 Keys to a 7 Figure Law Practice' at www.toplawfirmmarketingtips.com
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