Law firm marketing has changed tremendously over the last two decades. There has been a major shift in where law firms are spending their marketing dollars. Let's jump in and take a look at some legacy and digital marketing channels. We will then give each marketing channel a grade based on its overall marketing strength.
Law Firm Phonebook Marketing
If you look back to the year 2000, many law firms would spend thousands of dollars on full-page ads in the phonebook. This made perfect sense because the internet and search engines had not reached mass adoption. Google was only founded in 1998. In 2022, a very small percentage of people will even open a phonebook. This marketing channel might have some value for old demographics– perhaps an estate planning attorney who specializes in wills and trusts might find a use for it, but it is certainly a niche market. RIP phonebook 💀
Law Firm Billboards Marketing
According to Signpost, billboard costs can range anywhere from $750 per month to $14,000. The pricing mainly depends on the location and impressions. Let's make the assumption that the billboard is in a smaller town and will cost $1,500 per month with a 12-month contract. For the sake of this experiment, let's assume that the billboard is for a local criminal defense attorney in Florida who tends to focus on DUI defense. Let’s assume the average price for a DUI defense in Florida is $2,500.
The annual cost of this billboard is ~$18,000 (depending on if there are installation fees). An attorney would have to get approximately eight DUI cases just to cover the marketing cost. This does not include the labor costs. One advantage of billboard advertising is brand awareness within a city. It is one of the best non-digital ways to get your business name and message out to locals on a recurring basis.
Law Firm Radio Marketing
Radio advertising has some significant advantages over some of the other legacy marketing channels. One of the advantages is having your message and firm name articulated to your potential customers via audio. This has an intangible value because knowing how to pronounce a brand name makes a customer feel more connected and comfortable with a company.
Another major advantage for personal injury lawyers is the fact that they are often trying to target locals who are unfortunately involved in auto accidents. Your radio advertisements are routinely targeting locals who are driving daily.
Law Firm TV Advertising
This is a tricky one to judge because so much of the value is based on the creative and production quality. TV as a marketing channel is really strong. In a way, it incorporates the best parts of both radio and billboard marketing. You are being seen visually and having your message heard. The biggest weakness has less to do with the marketing channel and more to do with poor creativity, branding, and video production quality.
The targeting is also very broad which is not ideal for law firms. It is really easy to make bad, forgettable video ads. Not every law firm is capable of producing strong enough content to make them financially worthwhile.
Law Firm SEO Marketing
While SEO is a great marketing channel, I think in recent years its value has been reduced. This reduction in value is based on Google’s search engine continuing to expand its Paid Search marketing options and placements. These include Paid Search ads and Local Service ads. We have already covered Paid Search and Local Service ads in our Law Firm Digital Marketing Guide.
Another downside of SEO is it takes time to build up domain authority, rankings, traffic, and, ultimately, customers. I would only suggest incorporating SEO services if your law firm is planning on building truly unique content and tools for your customers.
Law Firm Paid Search Marketing
Google Paid Search Ads are among the strongest forms of advertising. It allows law firms to align their legal services with their customer's search intent in real-time. This is the gold standard in advertising. Get your firm and service in front of the right customer at the right moment. The best part is you only pay when your Search ad is clicked. This is commonly called Cost-Per-Click (CPC).
The downside is the cost per click can be quite expensive depending on the type of law, location, and overall quality score of the law firm's landing page.
Law Firm Local Service Ads
Google’s Local Service Ads, often referred to as LSA, are the new kid on the block. They became available in certain markets in 2019 and expanded nationwide in 2020. These ads were designed for lead generation for local businesses. Their placement is right at the top of Google for many popular service-based searches like “DUI lawyer Orlando”.
Another strength of these ads is their overall design. People hate ads. Local Service Ads do not look like traditional ads; they look like local attorneys and businesses that have been screened by Google. In fact, I would imagine the vast majority of people who click on these ads are not even aware that they clicked an ad. The main advantage of Local Service ads is the law firm is only charged when the ad is clicked and a phone call is made. This means that law firms only spend their marketing budget when the phone rings.
Law Firm Email Marketing
As stated in our Law Firm Marketing Guide, email marketing is the most underutilized marketing channel. This holds especially true for larger law firms with an established customer base. It is one of the few marketing channels that gives law firms the ability to directly communicate with former customers who at one point paid them money for their legal services.
The only downside is new law firms don’t have a customer email list. We recommend growing their list from day one so this downside can be eliminated.