The inconvenient truth I share with young lawyers is that undue delay in discovering the need to capitalize on becoming a master at direct mail marketing may serve to needlessly derail an otherwise promising legal practice.
For those lawyers that do not know how to market themselves or their practice, don’t worry, I am here to show you a better way.
In the competitive legal environment of today, time simply is not on your side. If you determine that direct marketing is right for you, you cannot afford to procrastinate in allowing your practice the best opportunity to succeed when a direct informational piece I use myself is available to you right now.
Unfortunately, more often than not the lawyers who immediately “get it” are those veteran lawyers who recall the old days of attorney advertising. A time when the yellow page directories were the be all and end all for most attorney client acquisition efforts. Such veteran lawyers already come to me with the knowledge that to make money one must invest the resources necessary in marketing one’s practice. The only question is not whether to invest but uncovering the right marketing strategy that will derive the greatest monetary return on that investment.
Novice lawyers just starting out too frequently make the mistake of potentially sabotaging their practices by failing to properly invest monetarily in their marketing efforts. In a social media world of free access to the public, such “millennials” are too often taught sobering lessons as to what it really takes to acquire the number of quality clients it will take to sustain a thriving long term legal practice.
With that said perhaps some context as to how I have settled upon direct mail as the bedrock of my successful client acquisition efforts is in order.
In days gone by prior to the internet and direct marketing services, if a lawyer did not have prime yellow page real estate, his or her chances for marketing their respective practices were considerably diminished.
Just a few years after starting my own practice I was fortunate enough to strategically position my marketing campaign to phone books within my central city as well as surrounding counties.
My success soon prompted hordes of other aspiring lawyers to yellow page advertising. Thereafter, in short order, those lawyers without foresight to patronize the phone book to reserve advertising placement were ultimately left out in the cold. Each year without yellow page advertising quickly left more aspiring legal practices fifty pages and more back under their desired attorney listings.
Circumstances grew so dire for attorneys newly admitted or young attorneys trying to market their practices that double full page ads became created so as to capitalize on the frenzy of lawyers determined to beat out their competitors. Those lawyers refusing to participate in phone book marketing soon enough could lose twenty pages of advertising placement in the phone book each new advertising year.
Other more established attorneys or those young lawyers betting their futures on phone book advertising began staking claim to the back cover of phone books, then inside covers, then tabs sticking out from the voluminous phone book pages that sought to catch a glimpse of the prospective clients eyes.
In this environment yellow page salespeople and their corporate partners had all the leverage in the world to extract untold amounts of monthly revenue from attorney advertisers.
Speaking from a personal perspective it was not uncommon for me to pay nearly nine thousand dollars per month for phone book advertising. While such an amount seemed obscene to the average layman, lawyers without the stomach to endure writing such checks each month would have to be content in other lines of employment.
From my perspective, I was content to pay such high marketing costs each month. In a cost benefit analysis, the marketing costs justified the clients I was consistently acquiring. Further, I recognized that the although these costs may have appeared to be staggering to layman and most of my competition, such costs appeared to insulate me from meaningful competition.
Within this context, phone book corporate strategy was unrestrained in its ability to raise monthly costs indiscriminately every year. Failure to produce the increased revenue demanded by the phone book companies would result in banishment to the back of the considerable line of lawyer advertisers eager to usurp the placements of those lawyers deciding to sit out phone book advertising for a year. (My colleagues who remember these days I see collectively nodding their heads right now).
Needless to say, the stress of maintaining a legal practice under such financial pressures was often daunting. However, with return on investment still strong in an advertising environment dominated by phone book listings, myself and most other lawyers plodded onward in willingly submitting to the phone book companies increasing monetary demands each new year.
For veteran lawyer marketers like myself, marketing stress began to reach unmanageable proportions when competition began to emerge to threaten the impact of phone book advertising. While still substantial for five or more years following the introduction of the internet to the consciousness of the general public, yearly revenue from yellow page advertising began to diminish. No longer was phone book advertising cost justified. In fact, at this point the monthly costs being paid to phone book companies without justified return went from cost justified to obscene.
Hastening the phone books demise further was a nationwide acceptance for the direct marketing of legal services to those who had been arrested. Sanctioned by the supreme court, lawyers nationwide were now given the green light to market directly to prospective clients without delay in certain fields of law. For example, criminal attorneys were not constrained by a waiting period with which to send mailed information to arrested individuals due to the time deadlines existing to assert certain legal rights.
No longer were phone books the go to resource to find a lawyer. Targeted informational mailings in combination with more understanding of internet marketing among the general public has usurped the former phone book dominance of attorney marketing efforts.
Best of all, for attorneys formerly shut out of effective phone book advertising placement, mailed solicitation and/or the internet gave such attorneys a new lease on their professional lives in terms of capitalizing on these new avenues with which to market a legal practice.
However, in time, the same obstacles that formerly shut out attorneys from effective phone book advertising have now emerged toward the internet marketing efforts of attorneys.
Google has become the new yellow pages. The same leverage exerted by the phone books to dole out premier placement to attorneys has now infected the monies it will take for attorneys to even deign to reach the first page of Google, much less the top few spots. As stated elsewhere, Google pushes the prospect of pay per click advertising as the salvation to bypass meaningful organic listings. Not unlike the yellow pages, only Google benefits in touting these generally ineffective advertising forums within competitive industries that increase its own revenues at the expense of the lawyer advertiser.
This leaves direct lawyer marketing as the most cost effective and targeted means today with which to grow a legal practice in relevant fields of law. Unencumbered by outside corporate entities pulling the strings, those very few lawyers who know how to direct meaningful correspondence to the general public are profiting like never before.
Further, veteran lawyers consulting with me laugh at the one time cost of my shared informational material compared to the herculean efforts to formerly pay their phone book advertising expenses each and every month in perpetuity.
Quite simply, in my humble opinion, newly minted lawyers wishing to succeed in acquiring criminal defense clients will fail without a successful direct mail campaign.
I was fortunate in taking advantage of being in the forefront of both yellow page advertising and years later the emergence of internet advertising. This reality is reflected in my top ranked internet positioning; top placement in large measure attributable to the years of trusted participation I have been rewarded with as the recognized legal authority in my field of practice.
Once again, my credibility among other lawyers seeking my services stems from the fact that despite my top ranked internet listings I am one of the few attorneys capable of credibly communicating that it is direct mail advertising, not the internet, that is by far the most cost effective means of acquiring the best clients today.
Please don’t allow a potential thriving practice to be submerged in wasted expenditures and deficient net income in the weeks, months and (hopefully not), years to come.