I still love advertising. Even with its diminishing popularity, particularly in print form, creating beautiful ads that pack punch for clients makes me happy. We’ve had clients frame our ads, float them around the firm, send home clippings of their announcement ad, and we’ve had several posted to social media sites just for fun. What’s not to love?
My suspicion is that there is more care going into law firm advertising. That’s only an empirical observation, but I do believe there are fewer lawyer-produced (or directed) ads getting published lately. Just as you can spot a contract that was torn out of a DIY book, those of us on this side of the business can see your “homemade” ads a mile away. Such a shame since ad space is still so costly and poor ads represent an opportunity lost. Smart design, strong messaging and good placement really matter.
When you buy a lot of advertising on behalf of clients, you might as well pin bulls-eye targets all over yourself. Every publisher and their sales team wants a piece of your ad budget and lawyers, as well as marketing professionals, have been wooed by a sales call or two.
I have a favourite ad representative – I’m only human and not beyond the influence of another who does her job really well — I admit it. She knows exactly what I’m interested in recommending to my clients and she has a portfolio of great publications that reach various key audience groups. Because she listens and understands my clients’ needs, it works. I always keep my wits about me, though, and don’t fall under the spell of great sales strategies. It’s still business and decisions must be made on sound reasoning that are strategic and non-emotional.
Here are some other tips:
- Avoid buying single ads (there are a few exceptions: lawyer announcements may be one) and, instead, think in campaigns where frequency is the formula for market penetration.
- Consider the audience. Are they professionals, industry people, general news readers or a demographically-oriented (i.e. seniors publications) readership?
- Get your ad well positioned. Ask for “forward placement” to avoid getting buried in the less read editorial material. Expect to pay a premium for preferred placement, but try to negotiate.
- Get your mitts on the actual hardcopy (or thumb through it online) to get familiar with the tone of the publication, in what form current ads are displayed and how yours should be produced to stand out and resonate with the audience.
- In your ad messaging, inspire action whenever you can. Invite readers to “learn more”, “sign-up”, “join us”, “attend”, etc.
And with all that, get a good designer or marketing agency to help. Your brand is a corporate asset worthy of great presentation. If your firm decides to run ads, make them count and go the distance.
My Slaw colleague, Margaret McCaffery, penned an article on getting good design services, just as a client should get good legal advice. Do read her article. It’s here.