I'm often asked by law firms to assist them in determining whether their advertising programs are cost-effective. Yellow Pages advertising is heavily used by small and mid-size law firms, primarily with consumer oriented practices. In fact, attorneys are the #1 category of advertising expenditures in the Yellow Pages, followed by doctors, insurance and dentists.
If you are running ads in the Yellow Pages, are they working for you? I've heard many law firms say they are tired of spending so much money on Yellow Pages ads, but they are reluctant to give up their large ad because they will lose their premium position.
My advice to firms that advertise in the Yellow Pages is to closely evaluate their advertising strategy to determine if it is worth their investment in money as well as time spent responding to any calls generated by the ads. Yellow Pages advertising is one of the easier areas in marketing to measure your return on investment, provided you are tracking the sources of your business (my Rule #1).
You need to analyze what you are spending, the clients you have gained directly as a result of the ads, and the amount of net fees generated by those clients. If you've spent $50,000 and received $150,000 in fees, that looks like a winning proposition. But if the ads brought in little revenue and generated time consuming questions and price shoppers with little follow through, you should rethink your strategy.
Yellow Pages advertising is definitely different in nature than advertising in other media. And it's certainly not meant to draw in business clients. So why do so many law firms still insist on listing every practice area in their firm rather than focusing on those potential clients who may still use the Yellow Pages to find a lawyer for personal injury, family law and wills?
If you are going to do Yellow Pages advertising, do it right. Are you conveying the correct message to your target client? Does the ad really jump off the page at readers? Is the headline powerful? Will it make a potential client contact you first? Is it well focused, or are you trying to be all things to everyone? How does your ad set you apart from your competitors' ads? Is the ad professional and easy to read?
After you analyze the effectiveness of your Yellow Pages advertising, you may want to refocus your efforts to on-line marketing, primarily through your web site. With 70% of adults today using the Internet, it is easy for them to type in their need and get targeted results vs. looking through hundreds of ads in a book. And you can change your web site content any time rather than only an annual refresh of a printed Yellow Pages ad. For more than 10 years, prospects have formed their first impressions of law firms by searching the Internet and, perhaps, landing on your website. Investing your time in creating excellent, targeted content for your web site and optimizing your site for search engines will increase the traffic to your web site - at a huge cost savings to the firm!
Don't fall into the trap of so many firms and simply renew your advertising contracts when they come due, Yellow Pages or otherwise. Take the time to review the benefits you received from the ad and think through whether it's a good investment to continue or to explore other opportunities.