What lawyers report about their marketing efforts

friday, 15 february of 2008

What lawyers report about their marketing efforts

By Trey Ryder

Here are recent observations lawyers have shared with me -- and results from my own law-marketing efforts:

Advertising in Daily Newspapers: Losing its effectiveness. In general, the larger the newspaper’s circulation, the higher the cost, the poorer the readership and the less likely prospects are to see your ad. As costs increase and effectiveness decreases, look at other options before investing a lot of money in large-circulation newspaper advertising. The more broad-based the newspaper, the more money you pay to reach people who are not in your target audience.

Advertising in Professional, Trade and Industry Publications: The more narrow the publication’s focus, the higher its readership. When you match specific publications to high-priority target audiences, advertising in these publications often proves profitable. Ad reps can usually supply you with demographic breakdowns so you can see who reads these publications.

Radio Advertising: Often overlooked by lawyers. Personally, I like to run 60 second radio commercials for my clients. Usually, news-talk stations work better than music stations because people listen to news-talk stations, where they only hear music stations. It’s important to select the time of day -- and even specific programs -- that will reach a high number of your prospects. Most radio stations have demographic information you can review. Often, larger stations can provide you with ratings information.

Television Advertising: In most cases, TV advertising cheapens your image due to the high number of sleazy, high-pressure TV commercials run by law firms. Still, if you select the right TV programs, and record education-based commercials, you can separate yourself from the hucksters. Comparing radio with television, I would first opt for radio because you can buy effective time slots much cheaper than comparable time slots on TV.

Media Publicity: Articles in the print media -- and interviews on the broadcast media -- remain my favorite way of attracting qualified inquiries, as well as increasing credibility and visibility. Depending on your field of law, and the number of media opportunities, your success in this arena may be limited. Even so, when you get an education-based article in print, you can potentially attract a remarkable number of inquiries. Plus, you can greatly enhance your credibility by mailing reprints to everyone on your law firm mailing list.

Seminars: Still a powerful tool, but the biggest problem lawyers report is poor attendance. When marketing through seminars, you actually need two marketing efforts: One, to get prospects to attend your seminar. For this, you need a fresh, exciting title and compelling content. And second, to get prospects to act on your seminar’s educational message. If you do both well, you'll find seminar marketing a compelling way to identify prospects and motivate them to action. But if you have even one weak link in your marketing chain, you'll be disappointed.

Newsletters: A necessary piece in your marketing mosaic. Many lawyers and law firm marketers don't like newsletters because they are so time-consuming to prepare. The most effective law firm newsletters (1) are short and to the point, (2) highlight and reinforce key parts of your marketing message, (3) establish important reasons for prospects to act now, (4) invite prospects to respond to different offers in varying ways, and (5) reach prospects and referral sources at least every month.

Web Sites: More important than ever before. If you don't have one, prospects wonder what’s wrong with you. As a result, your credibility and image suffer. Your web site should be (1) educational, so prospects grow to understand the depth of their problems and the solutions you can provide, (2) quick to load, (3) easy to navigate, and (4) designed to generate a direct response from qualified prospects.

Search Engine Optimization: Achieving high search engine rankings is getting more and more difficult due to the huge number of lawyers striving for top positions. I'm not suggesting you abandon SEO efforts, but you also need to explore other ways of getting qualified prospects to your web site, such as advertising. Also, I suggest you consider Google’s AdWords, which puts your advertising message alongside search engine results.

Tape Cassettes and CDs: Offering an audio recording of your marketing message (or live seminar) achieves three major advantages: (1) Prospects hear and digest your message in order, exactly the way you want them to receive it. (2) Prospects hear your voice and grow to feel as if they know you. (3) Prospects benefit greatly from the convenience of listening at the time and place of their choice, such as in their cars on the way to the office or in their living rooms.

Yellow Pages: Be careful. Two former clients have recently reported increasingly poor (and even terrible) results from major yellow page investments. While yellow page reps are quick to suggest ways you can improve your ad -- almost always at a higher cost -- the fact is many prospects now turn to the Internet rather than the yellow books. And even when prospects want to look in the yellow pages, they often refer to yellow pages online, avoiding the book entirely. Yellow page sales reps are among the most persuasive (and highly commissioned) salespeople on the planet. And while you might be wrong to completely avoid the yellow pages, you could be even more wrong to invest a lot of money. One key question to ask yourself: “Do the prospects I want to reach use the yellow pages to find a lawyer?” Often, they don't. If you have the budget for a high-dollar yellow-page commitment, I suggest you invest that money in other, more effective marketing opportunities that don't handcuff you to a 12-month (or longer) commitment.

Summary: Realize that marketing methods alone don't determine whether you succeed or fail. Your success depends on how effectively you reach qualified prospects, how effectively you deliver a compelling message, and how effectively you motivate prospects to respond. When all these components work in your favor, you enjoy the profits of a competent marketing program.

© Trey Ryder

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