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Lawyer Advertising – What Media To Use

This article will briefly examine the various media available for lawyer advertising, including TV, Radio, Billboards, Newspapers and the Internet.

Dollar for dollar, TV is the first choice for lawyer advertising. Any additional funds can be spent on other media to cross brand with TV. The public’s perception of media (see pdf p. 24) shows television trumps all other media as the most effective media among adults, age 18 and over, in every category: Most Authoritative, Most Influential, Most Persuasive, and Most Exciting.

TV was voted Most Influential media by 81.8%, with newspapers far behind in second place at only 8.5%. TV scores 66.8% Most Persuasive with newspapers, again, a very distant second at 14.2%. Television was also voted Most Authoritative media by almost twice that of the second runner up, newspapers. Of course, TV swamps all other media for Most Exciting. Finally, adults age 18 and over are 3 times more likely (see pdf p. 25) to learn about products from television than from the next most likely source.

TV advertising is also the most cost-effective media. Costco is able to offer low prices because they buy products in very large quantities. Similarly, the more people advertising reaches, the more it costs overall, but the less it costs per person reached and consequently the less it costs per call. Advertising in a county-wide yellow page telephone book is more expensive, but also more cost-effective than in a village yellow book. Advertising on radio will reach more people than a county-wide yellow page book, while advertising on local TV will reach more people than radio. The most expensive and most cost-effective advertising is national TV which will reach the most number of people. Chances are that you don’t practice nationally and the most number of people within your geographical area of practice will be reached by local TV advertising.

Having decided on TV for lawyer advertising, following are some questions you probably would like answers to and discuss with your advertising agency: 1. How much does it cost to produce TV commercials and who can make them? 2. How much money can I save by licensing pre-made stock TV commercials? 3. Do I need a vanity phone number? What’s the difference between vanity phone numbers and numeric phone numbers? Are there differences between vanity phone numbers? and where do I get one? 4. How much should I pay for a commercial spot? 5. How much are competitors spending on advertising in my market? 6. On which TV stations are my competitors spending their money? 7. How how much do I need to spend to be effective? 8. Should I choose broadcast TV or cable TV and what’s the difference? 9. Which stations, days and times should I advertise on? 10. Should I choose particular shows or rotators and which rotators? 11. Should I use 10, 15, 30, or 60 second commercials? 12. How do I know I’m getting what I’m paying for? 13. Should I buy the media myself or use an advertising agency? 14) What does an advertising agency really cost? 15. How long do I need to advertise to determine its effectiveness? and 16. How do I make sure that all the calls are properly answered?

The answers to some of these questions are fairly standard, however, the answers to the other questions depends upon your particular market, your commercials, whether you have a 1-800 vanity phone number and the amount you have budgeted. Future articles will focus on answering some of these questions. Additionally, your advertising agency will be able to answer these questions for you after an evaluation of your needs and abilities.

Broadcast TV consists of the broadcast stations including the networks which can be delivered either by broadcast, cable or satellite, while cable TV consists of cable stations or networks delivered only by cable or satellite. There are many differences between broadcast TV and cable TV which concern lawyer advertising, particularly since lawyer advertising is usually purchased locally rather than nationally. Additionally, advertising on cable TV is far more complex with many intricacies and unknowns. For this article the difference which I will point out is that broadcast TV has a broader reach than cable TV. Few people today watch broadcast TV by antenna reception, however, broadcast TV maintains its broader reach because it is carried by all cable and satellite providers and because the broadcast stations have achieved brand recognition which few cable stations have accomplished. As compared to broadcast TV, cable TV can allow for a smaller ad budget because it reaches a smaller market. Consequently, cable TV also allows lawyers to localize their advertising campaign.

Radio is useful for lawyer advertising as direct response (to obtain immediate telephone calls) or to augment branding (for future business) with a TV advertising campaign. As compared to TV, radio advertising can allow for a smaller ad budget because it reaches both a smaller demographic market and smaller geographic market. Consequently, for law firms preferring clients over a smaller geographic area, radio also allows lawyers to localize their advertising campaign. A note of caution: If radio will be used for direct response, rather than for branding purposes, a 1-800 vanity telephone number must be used or the advertising will be a complete failure. A study of a 1-800 vanity phone number versus a 1-800 numeric phone number in radio advertising showed that the 1-800 vanity phone number received approximately 93% of all the phone calls received versus approximately 7% for the 1-800 numeric phone number. The 1-800 vanity phone number resulted in 14 times more telephone calls than the 1-800 America phone number. This is not surprising. Which can you remember only a minute after after hearing a telephone number on the radio, 1-800-487-8911 or 1-800-HURT-911?

Outdoor advertising commonly known as billboards was previously suitable only for branding purposes. Since most people now have cell phones, billboards are now better suited for direct response. Billboards work extremely well for increasing brand awareness. Increasing brand awareness will substantially increase effectiveness of other advertising, such as TV advertising. I only recommend use of billboard advertising when it is used in conjunction with a TV advertising campaign. Additionally, billboards are directed to the general population. As such, with regard to lawyer advertising, billboards are generally ineffective for corporate law firms and I recommend using billboards only for law firms which represent individuals, such as personal injury, criminal law, bankruptcy and divorce law.

When using an outdoor advertising, choose your locations carefully. The geographic demographic market of a billboard will change depending upon the location. For instance, a billboard on interstate highway, such as I-95, will likely include a lot of truck traffic with out-of-state drivers, whereas a parkway for passenger cars will likely include a higher percentage of local traffic. Generally, billboards in ethnic and low income areas are less expensive and, coincidentally, better for lawyer advertising. A note of caution, if billboards will be used for direct response with lawyer advertising, rather than for branding purposes, a 1-800 vanity phone number must be used or the advertising will be a complete failure. There are several good vanity phone numbers which you can lease for your area of law practice and TV market. Which telephone number can you remember after seeing a billboard for 3 seconds while driving by, 1-800-274-6462 or 1-800-CRIMINAL? 1-800-487-8911 or 1-800-HURT-911?

Yellow page advertising has been widely reported by lawyers to be very effective for lawyers in the past. In recent years, yellow page advertising fees have increased dramatically and instead of one yellow page telephone book, there are now between three to five yellow page telephone books in each county. As compared to TV, yellow page advertising can allow for a smaller ad budget because it reaches a smaller demographic in a very small market of one county. If you’re considering multiple phone books or multiple counties, the cost can approach that of TV advertising which is much less expensive on the cost per call basis. For those law firms seeking clients geographically close to their office, yellow page advertising allows lawyers to localize their advertising campaign to just one county. You do not need a 1-800 vanity telephone number since your advertisement is in front of the caller at the time he or she is reading your advertisement, however, if you have a vanity phone number, you should use it in your yellow page advertising.

Newspapers are probably the best choice for advertising on a low budget. You do not need a 1-800 vanity telephone number since your advertisement is in front of the caller at the time he or she is reading your advertisement, however, if you have a vanity phone number, you should use it in your newspaper advertising. Newspapers generally have classified advertising for professionals which allows you to use an inexpensive classified ad instead of a display ad. Additionally, since the classified advertising for professionals is together in one spot, readers know where to go to find you. While some lawyers use a much more expensive display advertisement in the classified section which may result in more cases, a classified ad will likely result in a lower cost per call. Newspapers are particularly good for niche advertising. For instance, you can choose to advertise in a Greek newspaper which will not only make your advertising more effective, but is also far less expensive than the bigger newspapers.

Lawyer directories on the Internet can be a good source to obtain clients. Internet searches are replacing the need for yellow page telephone books and may even eliminate them in the years to come. All the major yellow page telephone but companies have established a presence on the Internet. Since the cost of establishing an Internet directory is a tiny fraction of the cost of publishing a telephone book, listings on the Internet should be considerably less expensive. The problem with spending much money for advertising on the Internet is that there are thousands of lawyer web sites and hundreds of lawyer directory web sites each with many lawyers listed. The chance that someone will find you on the web site and call you is slim. Additionally, clients with more serious injuries are usually in a hospital bed or in bed at home without easy access to a computer and will call a lawyer they see on TV.

Web sites are valuable as an online brochure in every law firm should have a professionally designed web site, but since there are thousands of lawyer web sites, don’t expect your web site to bring in a lot of clients. In fact, don’t even expect that any one will find your web site when searching for lawyer unless you retain a search engine optimization (SEO) firm. A note of caution, if you retain an SEO firm, make sure that your web site designer doesn’t overwrite the work they do. For this reason, it may be best to use the same firm for both web site design and SEO. If you’re seriously interested in having people find you on the Internet, in addition to having a web site, you should also seriously consider having a blog. Blogs turn up in search engine results much better than traditional web sites due to the fact that content is continually added.

This article was written by Philip Franckel, President of 1-800-HURT-911, Inc. 1-800-HURT-911 is a brand with a built-in message saying if you’re hurt an accident, you need legal help fast. The slogan “When you’re HURT in an accident call 911, then call 1-800-HURT-911” reinforces that message. If you would like information about advertising with 1-800-HURT-911 or 1-800-USLAW-911 see Advertising with 1-800-HURT-911 or send Philip Franckel an email.



  1. Dollar for dollar TV may be the first choice, however it may not be the best choice. Lawyers deal with customers in very specific situations. Unfortunately TV advertising is just a larger net to catch a small number of fish.

    Most lawyers do better by educating the community on what it is they do specifically. This can be done through a local free seminar or Chamber meeting. Another way would be a tele-seminar where people could just call in to the conference. This also allows the lawyer to capture prospect information and send a recording or transcript of the seminar.

    The most effective way would be to joint venture with another business that targets the same customers as your law firm.

    Comment by Rodney Boettger — 10/5/2005 @ 3:18 pm

  2. In most markets radio actually has a larger geographic coverage than their televison counterparts, especially 100000 watt FM's. Billboards actually complement radio better than televison go to In many small markets there is no dominate newspaper, so it is not very efficient and it's core demographic is over 50. Readership is down and advertising rates up. Ask them about advertising size noting scores…bigger is not always better. The only true apples to apples comparison is cost per thousand. How much does it cost to reach 1000 people?

    Comment by Paul Kingman — 6/20/2006 @ 11:26 am

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