“You Advertise?” Chuckled the Attorney in the Lawyer’s Lounge

Traditional types of attorney advertising

When I first started to practice law I worked for a defense firm handling PI and medical malpractice cases on Wall Street in NYC. They also handled the occasional plaintiff’s case. There was a ‘feeling’ back then that attorneys that needed to advertise where ‘those kind of lawyers’ and generally looked down upon.

‘Those’ lawyers took cases that appeared to come from volume practices rather than quality cases. In other words, they took anything that walked in the door. ‘Those’ lawyers advertised. The traditional law firms relied on word-of-mouth advertising and didn’t need to debase themselves with an awful yellow pages ad that was not far from the plumbing ads. (I am sure that some lawyers felt the PI attorneys who advertised probably qualified to be connected to those plumbing ads).

In any event, I continued to wonder how the different law firms generated the calls to their office. I learned they came from word-of-mouth referrals; from defense attorneys who had opposed those same lawyers in court; from advertising in the yellow pages, in the local newspaper, classifieds, radio and TV.

I remember overhearing a conversation in the lawyer’s lounge in court one day. One lawyer was telling the other about a great new source of business. It was with a TV advertising outfit that had 6 lawyers in the same geographic area. Every call that came in rotated with the next attorney. I was intrigued. The lawyer he was talking to was from a traditional PI firm, and his reply said it all. “You advertise?” he stated with a tone that told you he disapproved.

When I went into practice on my own in 2002, I had taken all of my files with me and that kept me busy for quite a while. However, as my cases resolved, I became more and more concerned about where new business would be coming from. I was fearful that I’d be spending more time staring at my phone wishing it would ring. That’s when I realized I had to do something that would generate calls to my office.

What did I do? The same thing that most attorneys in my business did. Copied everyone else. I assumed that if firms were using the yellow pages, it must be working. I assumed that if lawyers were advertising on TV it must be working. Same for display ads in newspapers. Ah, I wish I knew then what I know now.

I took out a full page yellow pages ad. My ad was on page nine of the full page lawyer ads. It didn’t occur to me that a consumer would call all the other 8 lawyers ahead of me before ever calling me. The yellow pages rep didn’t fill me in on that little fact. That ad came with a bonus ad in a small local yellow pages. Big whoop. The ad cost me $25,000 for the year. Oh yeah; I let the yellow pages people design my ad. Wow, was I naive.

The rep’s pitch was “You just need one good PI case to pay for your ad, then the rest is gravy.” I got suckered in. The following year, the pitch was “Now you just need some color, or maybe a white background. Then we can put you into another major book and throw in some bonuses too.” I should have thrown her out, but hey, that one case paid for the ad and now I expected the next year’s ad to be even better.

What I learned was that lawyers who were taking out two full pages, known as double-truck ads were paying anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 per year for their ads, depending on which books they were in. Then lawyers decided that double full page ads were not enough and went to FOUR full page ads. Who could keep up? Not me. I went looking for better ways to ‘advertise’ my legal services.

I tried TV ads, display ads and classifieds; all with mixed success. I was a solo attorney looking to stand out from the crowd. This just wasn’t cutting it. Yes, these efforts would make the phone ring occasionally, but not consistently. That’s when I came upon a few incredible people that changed the way I look at and approach attorney advertising.

The first was a guy name David Frey. He’s the author of the Small Business Marketing Bible. I had never bought an information marketing product before then and was hesitant to do so. I took the plunge and soon after received a looseleaf binder filled to the brim with content. When I went on vacation I was so fascinated by a concept he called education-based marketing that I read his book twice while on vacation. I took notes; underlined whole passages; highlighted others. I created a plan and when I returned, took action and began using David’s ideas to market myself.

He opened my eyes to something new and exciting. Nobody I knew was using the techniques he was talking about. At the same time, I came across a legal marketing guy named Trey Ryder. Trey also believed in education-based marketing and his marketing concepts fit right into David Frey’s. This was unbelievable stuff I was reading about.

Around that same time I came across a guy with a fascinating attorney website. He designed it like no other attorney website I had ever seen. It was educational. It had useful information on it. I was amazed. I called him up to talk and he was eager to talk and explain how he was using his website to attract potential clients. I was hooked. The attorney’s name? Ben Glass. Ben has since turned attorney marketing on its’ head by creating a powerful program called Great Legal Marketing based on the concepts he was learning and teaching other attorneys when I first met him years ago.

What was so amazing was that these people were not using traditional forms of attorney advertising. This was MARKETING through the process of educating. It was at that time that I started to create video to distinguish myself. I then got this crazy idea that if I combined this new video thing with education based video, it would set me apart from all my colleagues.

Guess what? It has. In fact, I got so good at creating educational video messages to market my law practice that people call me from all over the country and thank me for providing this information. Ironically, I don’t provide any legal advice in my videos.

After years of figuring out what works on video and what doesn’t, I decided I could help other lawyers market themselves the same way. Hence, the birth of the Lawyers Video Studio. This isn’t advertising. It’s using video to educate your viewer. As a byproduct of providing information, your viewer sees how knowledgeable you are. That’s not advertising; it’s marketing.

When lawyers hear how I help other lawyers create video, they always ask how I do it. Then they ask how I can do it for them. I have never encountered any attorney who mocked the type of video we create in the lawyers video studio. Why not? Because our videos don’t advertise like ‘those other lawyers’. We educate and that makes all the difference.

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avatarGerry, it was great to meet you and I am proud to say I have got my first video up on the web! Your online course is excellent. Take care.

David Brannen
Resolute Legal