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Law Firm Marketing: “You May Not Believe This, But…” 9 General Rules for Marketing Legal Services

by Trey Ryder

When marketing legal services, most lawyers rely on intuition and common sense to make decisions. But in many cases, results from attorney marketing efforts don’t follow the conventional wisdom. I have compiled these law marketing rules after years of trial and error. Now, here are my 9 general rules for marketing legal services:

General Rule #1: If you’d like to get a feature article in a newspaper or magazine, consider approaching a national publication. Every day, lawyers and business owners compete for space in local publications, but most never think about nationwide publications. In some cases, it’s easier to get into national publications than local ones. Plus, a widely published article can do a tremendous amount to enhance your image as an authority.

General Rule #2: Trade publications allow you to reach a large number of specific types of businesses. Many industries and professions have publications and newsletters, even in local areas. So rather than getting articles in broad-based media, read by many people who are not in your target audience, consider specific publications that reach highly focused groups. Most editors respect lawyers and like to receive their articles, providing they’re written in plain English, not legalese.

General Rule #3: Display ads in large daily newspapers usually do not pull as great a response as ads in suburban and small-town papers. This is because people who buy large papers usually scan them, rather than carefully looking at every page. People who buy small-town and suburban papers read them more closely, so they’re more likely to see and respond to your ad.

General Rule #4: Radio commercials often work well for lawyers. To make radio work, you need to prepare information you can send to listeners who respond, or have a web site to which you can direct them. Either way, radio can reach target prospects quite well and often at a fraction of the cost of other media.

General Rule #5: Your newsletter becomes less trouble and more productive when you shorten it and send it more often. Frequency and brevity are more important than quarterly newsletters a half inch thick. So if your current newsletter requires too much effort, make it shorter. Your readers will enjoy it more and read it sooner. Plus, you’ll get a better response.

General Rule #6: Fancy web sites that take forever to download do more harm than good. Every week, I hear lawyers and clients complain about slow-to-load web sites. In most cases, the person tells me that he chose not to wait and moved on. The problem arises not only because they didn’t wait for your site to load, but also because they later complain about your site to their friends and colleagues. So rather than creating no impression, the impression you create is negative.

General Rule #7: A serious photograph that you think is dignified often scares off prospects. If you want to see bad photos of lawyers, look through the yellow pages. In many cases, lawyers look worse than the criminals they defend. Hire a photographer to take a professional publicity shot, with direct eye contact and a warm engaging smile because before you make a stern impression on your adversary, you must make a favorable impression on your prospect.

General Rule #8: Long marketing messages work better than short messages, not because they’re long, but because they’re complete. Short messages have a place, especially when prospects want a quick overview and don’t have time to digest your entire message. (Then a summary sheet of bullet points works best.) But when your prospect finds time -- and wants to read what you say -- you’re in a much stronger position when you have (1) answered all his questions, (2) discussed your competitive advantages, and (3) explained the many benefits of hiring you.

General Rule #9: High fees attract better clients than low fees. When creating a marketing argument, it’s much easier to justify high fees based on the depth of your knowledge and experience -- than to explain why you charge so little. As consumers, we all use price as a quick way of determining quality. While price is not always reliable, still, we form impressions about the other person based on what he charges. Most often, people who want low prices get what they pay for and are not the most desirable clients. On the other hand, clients who want to benefit from your knowledge, skill and experience know that those qualities don’t come cheap.

If you are responsible for law firm marketing, I hope these attorney marketing rules help you. You are invited to review other law marketing articles on this web site. Thank you for allowing me to offer my time-tested insights into marketing legal services.

About The Author

Trey Ryder is a law firm consultant who specializes in Education-Based Marketing for attorneys. Trey Ryder offers lawyers three free articles by e-mail: 9 Smart Ways to Cut Marketing Costs and Improve Results, 11 Brochure Mistakes Lawyers Make, and Marketing Moves Most Lawyers Miss. 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.

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