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Advertise Specifically For The Cases You Want

by Trey Ryder

In display ads, lawyers often include every type of case they handle -- or every service they provide. (And certainly, I have long written about the need to offer a detailed list of services in your marketing materials so prospects clearly understand what you do.)

Still, if you're seeking specific types of cases, you're in a stronger position when you advertise only for the type of case you want, for two reasons. Often, when prospects see only one type of case in your ad, they conclude that you have a high level of skill handling those cases. Plus, when you put those exact words in the ad's headline, you draw much more attention to your ad.

If you want to attract different types of cases, you can advertise for each type of case -- one at a time -- through narrow publications that reach your many target audiences.

For example, if you want to attract cases in which children have been injured, advertise in a newsletter or magazine for parents. If you want to attract clients who need legal services for a merger or acquisition, advertise in a magazine that goes exclusively to in-house counsel and CEOs.

I almost always suggest that you offer free materials that you'll send by mail or e-mail. But not all prospects want to request or read materials. Instead, they may want to see what you offer and then speak directly with you. Here's how to create a small ad for specific services:

AD SIZE AND SHAPE: Before you advertise, get written advertising information from the publication so you know the various sizes of ads you can buy. Then look through the publication to see which sizes are used most often -- and least often.

You may find that most advertisers buy rectangular ads that fit together like neatly stacked building blocks. (This draws attention away from any one ad.) Also, you may discover that no advertisers buy the tall, slender ad -- or the short, dollar-bill size ad, which leads to this recommendation:

Look for an ad size (or shape) that almost never appears in the publication. Then see if you can make that size work for you. Often, the ad's odd size will require that it appear by itself -- or up against an article, rather than abutting other ads. This helps your ad stand out.

HEADLINE: Announce specifically the type of cases you want or the solutions you offer, using words your prospect understands: Birth Defects. Spinal Injuries. Living Trusts. Divorce. Put these words in large, bold type so they (tastefully) seize your prospect's attention.

PHOTO: Under the headline (or beside it, depending on the shape of your ad), include your photo. The photo should be a good face shot with slightly more of one side of your face than the other. If you can see both ears equally, that's not good because the shot looks two-dimensional and flat.

When sitting for your photo, wear your most conservative clothing, like you would wear in court. Your photo should be tightly cropped just outside your head in all directions. You should have direct eye contact with the camera and a warm, engaging smile. The eye contact and smile will seize your prospect's attention and draw him to your ad. The larger your face size -- specifically, the larger your eyes -- the more powerful your ad will be.

BODY COPY: Explain briefly what you do, how your prospect benefits, and include sound reasons for your prospect to act now. Also, work hard to build immediate credibility. Include the number of years you've practiced law. Advanced law degrees. Academic awards. Class standing. Non-law degrees. Bar memberships. Non-bar lawyer group memberships. Certified specializations. Special qualifications. Media guest appearances. Books published. Community activities. Anything that will cause your prospect to respect your qualifications and see you as different from other lawyers. The copy needs to be clear and readable, but the font size can be small. The large, bold headline and your photo will attract your prospect to your ad. Once he's reading, you can use small type.

CALL TO ACTION: Tell prospects exactly what you want them to do. You may invite them to call for a free phone consultation -- or set up an initial office visit. Or, you may invite their inquiry by e-mail or through your web site. Give prospects a number of contact options because prospects often prefer to approach you in their own way. Also, make sure your phone number and e-mail address are easy to find and easy to read.

When you advertise for specific cases, you erase from your ad the clutter and confusion that often result from listing every type of case you handle. Further, this gives you more room to explain what you do and focus your attention -- and your prospect's attention -- on one type of case.

Remember: In marketing, generalities hurt. Specifics persuade!

About The Author

Trey Ryder is a law-firm consultant who specializes in Education-Based Marketing for attorneys. He offers lawyers three free articles by e-mail: 7 Secrets of Dignified Marketing, 11 Brochure Mistakes Lawyers Make, and 11 Ways to Turn Your Fee and Billing Policies into a Competitive Advantage. Send your name and e-mail address to and ask for his free e-mail packet of articles.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.