The Law Firm Advertising Don’t List

Don’t Do This 
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It’s all too easy to waste thousands of dollars on marketing that doesn’t land you more business. But how do you avoid it? Here is a list of 7 Don’ts to consider for next year’s law firm advertising plan.

When it comes to law firm advertising, deciding where to spend your money can sometimes feel like throwing at a dart board. But you don’t have to base your marketing strategy on wild guesses. Rich Bracken, of Attorney@Work said it well:


Client decision-makers grow more discerning by the day. Cutting through the noise of the competition with advertising is like cutting a tough steak with a butter knife. The bad news is that your quarter-page ad in the trade association’s annual directory isn’t likely to bring in your next institutional client. The good news, though, is that you have a multitude of options for developing more agile and effective marketing programs and campaigns to be able to shift your spend strategically for better branding and business.

Rich Braken, Law Firm Advertising Do’s and Don’ts, Attorney@Work.com

But how do you do that and still make the most of your marketing dollars? Here are some strategies to avoid.

1. Don’t Advertise Without a Plan

A lot of law firms don’t bother to create a marketing plan. Solo attorneys and small firms especially, often wing it and hope clients will come knocking. That means a lot of opportunities, and money, get wasted because the attorneys failed to plan their law firm advertising ahead of time.

DO

2. Don’t Do Something Just Because You Always Have

It’s easy to just rinse-and-repeat this year’s marketing strategy for next year. But your clients, and your law firm’s focus may be changing, even when your advertising plan isn’t. Just because your firm has sponsored the local high school baseball team for the last 15 years doesn’t mean it’s a good strategy to build your business. 

DO

3. Don’t Rely on Print Advertising

There aren’t very many practice areas that benefit from an all-print law firm advertising strategy. If you work with the elderly or social security applicants, you may find a benefit from print. But in most cases, the local paper is going into the trash can before your neighbors can even see the ad.

DO

4. Don’t Have a Boring Law Firm Ad

Lawyers aren’t graphic designers, but that doesn’t mean your advertisement needs to be boring. In many cases, you can hire a designer to create a flexible ad that will work for a variety of sources, or versions that are optimized for different social media outlets.

DO

5. Don’t Ignore Targeted Publications

Very few law firms truly do everything. Even general practitioners have certain areas that they prefer — and others they refer out. If you want to spend more of your time doing something specific, you shouldn’t ignore targeted publications outside the law. This may be a dog-lover’s magazine if you handle dog bite defense, a caregivers’ blog for the marijuana industry, or even your local online news source. Whether your focus is geographic or industry-specific, there are targeted publications that would be happy to feature your firm with an op-ed.

DO

6. Don’t Skimp on Unique Content

It can take a lot of time and effort to create high-quality online content. Depending on your writing ability, your case load, and your preferred format, you could find yourself cutting back on unique content in the interest of saving time. But doing that will starve your website. You will lose standing in the search engines, and you may have trouble meeting your law firm advertising plan when it comes to social media. If you don’t have the time to write unique content yourself, spend the money to have someone write it for you.

DO

7. Don’t Forget to Track Your Success

Once the law firm advertising plan is underway, it’s time to go back and see what worked, and what didn’t. All too often, lawyers throw money and time at advertising that has little to no return on investment (ROI). But unless you track where your money comes from, you’ll have no way to know which ads make sense, and which are a waste.


“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”


John Wanamaker (1838-1922)

DO track how well your advertising is doing.

There are lots of good ways to track how successful your advertising is:

  • Click-through rates on social media links
  • Open rates on e-newsletters
  • Dedicated phone numbers for ad campaigns

Perhaps the simplest is simply to ask “Where did you hear about me?” Don’t stop when they say they “found you on the internet” either. Find out whether this client came from social media, a paid link, or from a specific blog post. That way you will know where to put more money and time when it comes to planning the next year’s law firm advertising plan.

There are lots of “Don’ts” when it comes to legal marketing. But don’t

Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist in Ferndale, Michigan. She writes blogs and web content for lawyers and small businesses. If you need help executing your law firm advertising plan, contact Legal Linguist to schedule a meeting.

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