Should your firm buy advertising in a local magazine?

May 22nd, 2014 | Company News, Law Firm Marketing, Legal Marketing in Brief

Absent having a robust social media program, solid presence in national bar and influential local trade groups, membership in a vibrant law firm network, holding the key peer-review ratings, a law firm will find itself with little choice but to consider comparably cost-inefficient marketing tactics, particularly directory and specialty magazine advertising.

We were reminded of this recently when a client was asked to buy advertising in a magazine created by their local economic development group to be given to companies considering relocating or expanding into their hometown.

For the law firm, the main question is how many people who might get these magazines and reference them might also be charged with or heavily influence the selection of a law firm that would then represent a company relocating to or expanding into your region. We think that number of people would be quite small. That means these magazines are not reaching a target audience of any size and that most who are seeing the publication likely are not buyers of your services or major influencers in the choice of a law firm.

Even if the reach of these publications is greater than most imagine, the data available to us (from surveys by Cone, BTI Consulting and American Lawyer Media, among others) is consistent in showing such ads will be of little or no effect. The surveys clearly indicate that companies relocating or expanding into new jurisdictions where they do not currently have existing counsel will search for new lawyers by first asking their existing outside counsel for personal recommendations in the new market. After receiving names of lawyers or firms, most all of the c-level execs or in-house counsel of the relocating or expanding company then will go online confirming the capabilities of those lawyers and firms through Martindale and other peer-review directories and ratings. This is why we put such an emphasis on these directories and ratings in a law firm’s marketing plan.

It is excellent positioning for your lawyers to be involved in regional economic development groups. If you can learn about a company considering a move into your market you can then see who in your law form network or otherwise connected to one of your lawyers (think LinkedIn Connections) can get you that critical personal recommendation. This is also why it’s important, if possible, to have your lawyers nominated to and active in national bar groups or colleges such as the American College of Real Estate Lawyers.

In the end, the business remains one based on personal recommendations backed up by a confirming comprehensive online presence. Advertising has comparatively little effect.

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