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How to Market a Law Firm Series: Print Advertising

Print advertising used to be almighty—a powerful strategy to capture eyeballs and spread your legal marketing message far and wide. In fact, print was once among the most effective forms of advertising for lawyers.

Darn you, internet. Is there any room left for print advertising in this digital age? Or is it time to move on?

Well, it’s a little bit of both.

Print advertising is showing undeniable signs of decline as more people digest content online on mobile devices. Print newspapers are all but dead. Some say even digital versions of newspapers are heading down the same path, which begs the question of whether it’s not the delivery format of news that’s at issue as much as the general lack of interest in “daily” news by people today.

Online publications, blogs and news outlets are so niche now that consumers can customize their daily digital media habits through the finest of filters. But who can argue with this cultural shift in content consumption? It’s hard to beat the immediacy and made-to-order feel of data being pumped into our laptops and smartphones.

However, the subject of effective print advertising for lawyers is a broad one, and includes not just old-school newspapers, but outlets such as:

  • Ad options in magazines and trade publications
  • Billboards (both stationary and moving)
  • Directories
  • Banners
  • Direct mail strategies such as brochures, flyers and postcards

The widespread variety of print is not something to completely discount when considering how to marketing your law firm.

Sometimes, seeing is believing

Print advertising is still alive for a variety of reasons. One is brand perception: Having your firm appear in a magazine, trade publication or newspaper still conveys a certain level of professionalism. There’s still a notion that if you want respect, a print medium is one high-quality place to gain it. Potential clients may look at your firm in a better light through print rather than seeing your ads solely online, where $10 to $25 gets any ad placed on a decent website.

Another reason print advertising still works is brand awareness. The familiarity and popularity of your law firm—its name, logo, brand messages, etc.—can’t be underestimated in a crowded market. One can’t deny the power of print when roughly 70% of the impact of advertising on market share results from increasing brand awareness alone.

Don’t overlook the fact that most print ads get people to remember your brand. A powerful image that tells your story could sear your legal brand in the minds of clients. Plus, your print ads will always contain your website address for easy reference when prospective clients are ready to dig a little deeper online.

So, print advertising and marketing is not completely without merit, even by modern standards. In fact, a recent cross-media study among news print, magazines, radio, TV and online banner advertising showed, surprisingly, that print media are delivering some of the best returns—as high as 120% ROI. So it’s not yet time to abandon print advertising; it’s simply time to consider it as one weapon in your cross-channel legal marketing arsenal.


Billboards and beyond

One reason select forms of print are still useful methods of promotion for the legal industry is because most law firms still cater to a specific region or community. Billboards, for example, remain an advantageous advertising strategy, especially in high-traffic areas, even for businesses appealing to a relatively large market. Billboards are cost effective yet generally short-lived (typically 4 to 6 weeks)—and their success is doggedly dependent upon location.

Another out-of-home advertising approach that lawyers should consider is “moving” billboards, which include messages displayed on mass-transportation vehicles (buses, trains, car-shares, etc.). More marketers are moving to this active billboard style, knowing their message can hit a wider area of target audiences. That translates to more bang for your buck.

So, while currently less effective than in its heyday, print advertising can still reach a target audience and generate results, particularly when used as a tool in a multi-faceted law firm marketing strategy.


Print advertising tips for today’s world

As you develop law firm advertising ideas and create print pieces that hit the right notes in a modern marketplace, let us leave you with a few helpful rules of thumb.

  • Massage that message. The best print ads contain very direct, concise and simple messages. That means legal services are a good match for print: You need legal help now for your injury. We can help. The practical benefit of the message—keeping the focus on the client, not the firm—can be very powerful. Ads that have an emotional appeal are especially effective.
  • Focus on local. Small legal markets are still one of the best areas for localized print advertising. Remember that brand awareness figure? There are huge benefits from becoming the community’s most recognized and trusted law firm. To get there, though, you need print to back up your brand message with regular media buys and consistent messaging, whether on a billboard or in the town newspaper.
  • Target your audience. Print advertising is well suited to targeting a specific audience, meaning your ad reaches people who are more likely to be interested in your particular legal services. However, you have to invest in a realistic advertising cycle to see results. Reoccurring ads are the key to getting people to remember you, and typically it takes seeing an ad seven times before someone actually acts on it.

The message is simple: Print advertising still has legs, although they are getting weaker and slower. That means attorneys need to get more creative when integrating print into the master media mix. Combine print and digital advertising strategies for maximum effect, value and success.

Wondering if your law firm’s print advertising strategies are driving ROI? Call the legal marketing experts at Network Affiliates today for a free and confidential evaluation of your current advertising efforts. 1-888-461-1016