Effective Advertising is Empathetic — and Omnipresent

Published on: 
04/17/2013
I recently 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 specific ways to be memorable and differentiate yourself from other lawyers, and they can be embodied in your advertising. Remember that the quality of legal service, not the degree of salesmanship and promotion, is what's important. In that 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 are essential. 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's counterproductive to build silos. Your online content should include, not be an alternative to, your best-conceived adverts. Bingham McCutchen, which has won numerous awards for its ads, does just that right on its home page.

In the end, the decision whether or not to sign on with your firm is made by an educated buyer. It is a given that lawyer advertising is regulated for truth and fairness in promotional statements, and must be restricted in terms of 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. Indeed, any ad that does not do that is a waste of your firm's time and money.

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