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What should your advertising say?

Recently I advised a caller on the content of an advertisement that he wanted to place in order to provide notice that his practice was for sale. There were some specific content ideas that I suggested to do this more effectively, but it occurred to me that in a more general way they applied, not just to selling a practice, but generally to selling a lawyer’s services through the use of advertisements.

There are ways to be memorable and differentiated from other lawyers and these can be embodied in your advertising. If the statements in it are truthful and avoid misrepresentation, your ad content should convey a message that is memorable and differentiates you from other lawyers.

In this regard, lawyers are no different from others who do the same type of promotion. So far, as the ultimate concern of the client – and legal ethics – the quality of legal service and not the degree of salesmanship and promotion is what’s important. In this regard, your advertisement should above all create a message and emotions that encourage others to make contact with you.

Your ad should answer the fundamental questions that potential clients would raise. Who are you? What do you stand for? What would it be like to work with you as a lawyer? What common ground do you have with your clients, over and above their legal matters?

Ultimately, because your goal is to be working with those who see your advertisement, you want to create the impression that they will be dealing with a reasonable and likeable individual. Potential clients want to empathize with their lawyer, so your ad must give them the basis to create that empathy. Specifics about the way you approach your practice are essential for doing this. Make sure your advertisement specifies where you are located, the specific type of service you provide and how in a general way you charge for them (“no fee for an initial consultation,” for example).

Remember that it’s essential for any lawyer who advertises to integrate ads with the full range of online marketing tools. It is counterproductive and a waste of money to build silos. Ensure that your print or broadcast advertising make note of your website, and whether you can be found on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Similarly, your online content should include copies of the advertising that you run.

Bingham McCutchen, the 1,000-lawyer law firm that has won numerous awards for its ads, does this right on the home page of the firm’s website.

Through such specific content and tactics your ads will be designed to encourage potential clients to contact you. If they have a need, they will seek to learn whether the firm’s skills match their needs. In the end, the decision is that of an educated buyer.

Good advertising is the process of educating your public that you exist and that you can assist them. It is a given that lawyer advertising is regulated for truth and fairness in promotional statements, and to restrict hyperbole so as not to create false expectations.

But the rules do not restrict an integrated and consistent advertising message that educates potential clients about what you can do and how to reach you. Any ad that does not do this is a waste of your firm’s time and money.

Edward Poll is a speaker, author and board-approved coach to the legal profession. He can be contacted at edpoll@lawbiz.com. Also visit his interactive community for lawyers at LawBizForum.com.

About Ed Poll