How to Create a Killer Law Firm Ad

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Long ago there was much debate about whether or not lawyers should advertise at all.

It’s clear today, however, that legal advertisements are becoming part of the norm.  Even the most respected and largest international law firms place advertisements in well known national publications.

The good thing is that a quality print advertisement does not have to push the limits of the legal ethics envelope.  The goal is not to convince potential clients that your law firm will win their case no matter what.  If you simply want to let potential clients know that you’re out there and that your law firm provides quality legal services, then this article is for you.
 
With that said, in today’s competitive market, advertising really is a necessary part of building a successful legal practice.  There are a variety of ways to get your name out there and to let potential clients know about your law firm.  One of the most common is the printed advertisement.  In an ideal world, you would simply hire someone to design an advertisement for your small law firm or solo practice.  In the real world, your law firm may not have the extra cash to do this.
 
If this is your firm’s situation, then you’ll need to design your own advertisements from scratch.  The good news is that you don’t need a degree from design school to come up with a killer advertisement for your law firm.  With Photoshop and even some of the more advanced features in Word, you can often create the general look of the ad yourself and then work with a freelance designer to get the layout in the formats required by the publishers you’re working with.
 
Even if your firm can afford to hire someone else to create your ad, you should still know what makes the perfect advertisement.

What Is the Goal?

Before you do anything, you must know what you want.  If you want your law firm’s advertisement to simply get people in the door, that’s fine.  However, spend some time to see if you can get a little more creative and specific with this goal.  If there is stiff competition in your area, then you may want to highlight something your law firm offers that you know other firms don’t.
 
Use the print advertisement to drive traffic to your website.  The space in a print ad is often very limited.  If you have more to say than the print space allows, then try to find a way to get readers to come to your website.  There, you can go into more detail about your firm, its attorneys and their achievement.
 
Think about your target demographic.  What types of messages will be the most effective at getting through to them.  Consider their average education level.  Think about what is important to your potential clients.  Are you advertising to people who may be in legal trouble or to people who need an attorney to handle estate related documents for them?  Write as if you’re talking to potential clients one on one. 

Where to Advertise

One of the most important decisions you’ll make is where to place your law firm’s advertisement.  This decision will be based on a variety of factors like cost and the demographics of your target audience.  If you decide to advertise in the newspaper, here is what you’ll need to consider.  If you live in a large city, there are probably several newspapers for you to choose from.  There may be a large paper that covers the entire metropolitan area, and regional papers that cover the smaller cities, and then even newspapers that cover certain neighborhoods.  Consider each paper individually.  Look at cost, the demographics of their readership, and more.
 
If you advertise in your metropolitan area’s large Sunday paper, your ad could get lost in all the coupon clutter.  However, more people read their Sunday paper than the ones they receive during the week.  You’ll also have to decide if you want a large ad that you can only afford to run a few times, or do you want a small ad that you can run for several weeks.  Keep in mind that you may want to make changes to the ad based on the responses you get.

Advertising in magazines is another excellent opportunity for law firms to gain exposure.  Your firm may not be able to place an expensive ad in one of the large, national magazines, but there are countless local and trade magazines that may be just the fit for your firm.  Look online to see what magazines and newspapers publish in your area and contact them for their rates.  Not only will they be able to tell you about the demographics of their readership, but they will also be able to advise you on when and where to advertise within their publication.

Cohesion

One of the most important things to keep in mind whenever you set out to create anything for your firm, whether it’s a print ad, a website, firm letterhead, or business cards is that the look needs to be cohesive.  You shouldn’t have professional, serious letterhead, and then have a lighthearted, goofy print advertisement.  Inconsistency sends two messages.  First, that you don’t know who you are and second, that you’re so desperate for business that you’ll compromise your own brand.  As a law firm, you need to know who you are and then you have to stick with it.
 
Advertising in print publications is not out of reach for your law firm.