Do Internet Directory Services Work for Lawyer Marketing?
This is a question I am receiving with more and more frequency. As the economy deteriorated these services ramped up their marketing efforts so that almost every lawyer in America received a call from one of them at some point (or so it seemed). Many lawyers added an online directory listing to their marketing and signed up for the service. Others remained skeptical and called me looking for my input. Since I have now seen more than my share of lawyers who have used the various directory and “client matching” services, I can offer some fair commentary about them.
Directory services are essentially the Internet replacement of the phone book. You list your law firm in there with other attorneys who do the same thing as you do. You provide your information packaged in the same way as all the other lawyers marketing their services. You even have the opportunity to list prices for your services. Then people call you. Some call seeking free advice and some call shopping around for the least expensive lawyer.
That’s right. You will get phone calls from most of these services. And in many cases you will get clients. In a few cases, you may even get enough clients to do better than break even on your investment. Many people would say this is a good lawyer marketing tactic since you are receiving a positive return on investment.
The problem with directory services is that they make you a commodity. You become the same as a can of peas on the shelf in a supermarket. Potential clients cannot see the difference in your service from all the other attorneys in the directory. You all look the same. When everything looks the same the only criteria the client has to make a decision is price. This is not good.
Let’s see how the directory services stack up against the three main elements of lawyer marketing:
Visibility: Will it help people find you? The answer here is “yes”.
Credibility: Will it help people believe your message? The answer here is “maybe”. I say “maybe” because credibility is in the eyes of the receiver of the message. To some potential clients, being in a directory service may signal legitimacy but to others it may signal desperation. It all depends on your potential client.
Differentiation: This is where we put the nail in the coffin. These directory services offer no way to differentiate you from everyone else. In fact, they make you a commodity which is the opposite of what good lawyer marketing is supposed to do.
In the end, advertising in a directory or a client matching service will not do any harm to your law practice. You will, if you have the time and the patience to sort through all the calls from price shoppers, probably get a few clients over the course of a year. But if you have other opportunities to invest in more productive lawyer marketing vehicles, I recommend staying away from them.
© Copyright 2008-2013 Rainmaker IP Holding, LLC. All Rights Reserved
Images used by license from Fotilia Stock Photos. Member ID 203997040
Want the Latest Update? Visit Dave Lorenzo's Profile on Google+