When we meet with new clients we typically perform a review of their past and current marketing efforts so that we can map out a plan that will help them meet their new business goals says Rene Perras Vice President of Internet Marketing company for law firms. In spite of the tremendous growth of the Internet as a marketing tool, very often we find a great hesitancy to reduce yellow page spending as a way to fund a web-marketing program or more traditional advertising for law firms.
There are several reasons why attorneys and other advertisers continue to commit inordinate percentages of their law firm marketing budgets to yellow page advertising. In fact, over the last 5-10 years small businesses are estimated to have spent nearly half of their advertising dollars on yellow page ads.
One of the main selling points of the yellow pages is that virtually everyone using the books has an immediate need for the goods or services that they are looking for. While we are not advocating completely excluding the yellow pages from the media mix of a marketing plan, we believe that it has been reduced to a supportive medium and should be funded as such. That said the yellow pages do have a higher level of use in towns comprised predominantly of retirees who may not use the web as their first choice for local business information.
Two of the main reasons that law firms continue to spend so much of their advertising dollars on the yellow pages are habit and fear. In spite of the fact that many attorneys are not sure how much of their new business correlates to their yellow page advertising, they continue to advertise because they always have, and they believe that the ads worked in the past. They are also afraid that if they choose to reduce the size or number of ads compared to prior years that someone else would get the call rather than their firm.
We recommend that our legal clients place ad-specific tracking numbers in all of the different directories that they advertise in so that they can make a more informed decision about what their ROI for this medium is. Quantifiable and hard data regarding the number, length and origin of the calls takes the guesswork out of ad tracking. It also makes the decision to reallocate marketing dollars less stressful.
With the advent of local searches on Google and the other search engines, it has made the web easier to use to find an attorney or any other consumer service as compared to the phone book. Instead of looking at every ad in the category for attorneys, local searches allow much more specificity in both the type and location of the attorney. For example a search can be made for a Dallas personal injury lawyer, or New York Medical Malpractice Lawyer to find a personal injury law firm in the specific region. The mapping function shows exactly where they are located relative to you and directions are a couple of clicks away. The immediacy of the need for an attorney is certainly no less for web searchers than it is for someone picking up a yellow page book.
The single most telling factor in the trend away from printed yellow pages is the investment being made by the yellow page companies in online directories. While they can provide all kinds of statistics about how the printed and online directories complement each other, there is no question that the handwriting is on the wall.
It is our experience that web marketing and SEO can provide attorneys with greater bang for their buck than yellow page advertising and that law firms should invest more in the performance of their web pages than hope for leads from the yellow pages.
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