Productive Attorney Advertising vs. Expensive Attorney Advertising

For more great articles and FREE attorney resources visit us:


There are a couple of myths that are particularly damaging to an attorney’s ability to attract clients.

The first myth is the idea that marketing and advertising are the same thing.  They are not.  Marketing is a series of systems and processes designed to develop business for your law firm.  Advertising is the representation of your firm in print, electronic or display media.  Advertising is a type of marketing Just like broccoli is a type of vegetable.

The second myth in law firm marketing is the idea that advertising is all about billboards, television commercials and announcements in trade journals.

There are two different forms of advertising. The most common type of advertising is called “image advertising” or “institutional advertising”.  These ads make up most of what you see on television or hear on radio or see in the newspaper of magazine.  The ads display a message and promote a brand.

The second type of advertising is called “direct response advertising”.  This form of advertising carries a specific message aimed at a target market and it includes a “call to action”.  A call to action is a means of responding specifically to that advertisement.

Image advertising is difficult to measure.  If you advocate using this form of advertising you will need to run your ads over and over again to make certain your message is seen by as many people as possible as many times as possible.  Image advertising is very expensive.

With direct response advertising, you can measure the success of every single advertisement.  Each advertisement is required to produce a return on investment or it is not run again. 
In working on law firm marketing projects, we almost always advocate using direct response advertising.  We focus on this form of advertising because law firm marketing budgets are usually tight and they need to generate a substantial return on investment from each advertisement.

If you are approached by someone selling advertising you should ask two questions:

1). How will we measure the return on my investment in this ad?
2). Can you show me other ads like the one you are trying to sell me and let me talk to the firm that ran it to discuss their success?

The answers to these questions will help you understand what type of advertising you are being sold and how effective it will be for your law firm.