With thousands of mid-sized law firms — and hundreds
of thousands of lawyers — all competing for the
same pool of clients and prospects, differentiation
is one of the most important ways to gain recognition
and build brand awareness. Communicating your firm’s
unique characteristics, expertise, strengths and successes
to a large number of prospects can be achieved through
Advertising is not about selling the skill of your
firm, but about promoting the qualities that differentiate
your firm from so many others. Differentiation is your
brand, and advertising is about positioning that brand
by promoting and communicating your firm’s differentiators
to a targeted mass audience.
For a mid-sized law firm to be successful, it needs
an effective marketing and sales initiative. Without
marketing, public relations and a strong business development
strategy, few clients or prospects would know about
the firm and why it is unique, resulting in fewer opportunities
for new business. Advertising is just one tool in a
successful marketing and business development program
that can help create new opportunities.
The goal of advertising is to focus attention on what
sets your firm apart from others. Branding, through
repeated, frequent advertising, is the most effective
way to accomplish that goal. Advertising means generating
opportunities, and good advertising is generating thousands
of potential opportunities every day.
The only way to be heard is to speak, and the only
way to be remembered is to repeat over and over a very
simple, compelling, single-minded message. Consider
that the public is faced with roughly 700 ads and brands
per day. To stand out, you must not merely speak, but
yell, breaking through the clutter and getting the attention
of the prospect with the use of strong creative and
a quick, easy-to-retain message.
Advertising broadcasts your differentiators to a targeted
audience of mass proportions. It delivers your message
to a broader audience and at a faster rate than any
other marketing tool. Repetition and frequency are key
components of a successful advertising initiative. Once
you establish your brand message, you must drive that
message into the minds of clients, prospects, and even
staff members. The most effective and efficient way
to do so is through frequent, repeated advertising in
the same publications or airwaves reaching the same
industry or targeted audience.
Lawyers often make the mistake of trying to measure
the return on their advertising investment by asking,
“What new business has this ad brought ME?”
In most cases, it is next to impossible to measure the
results of image advertising. But remember that most
law firm advertising isn’t as much about selling
a “New and Improved lawyer or law firm,"
as it is about creating the brand. To create that brand
you must communicate the elements that differentiate
A successful advertising campaign brings many other
benefits that law firms never seem to address. Some
are extremely important when building a brand or positioning
your firm within the marketplace. When weighing the
value of an advertising campaign and whether advertising
is right for your firm, you should consider these other
- Advertising communicates success. The mere fact
that your firm is advertising communicates success
to clients, potential clients and competitors.
- Advertising reminds clients and former clients
of the quality service that your firm has provided
and offers assurances that your firm will remain viable
and successful well into the future.
- Advertising is publicity, focusing attention on
your firm in a public forum that people use to learn
about law firms. If your firm is seeking publicity
but an editor has never heard of your firm, that editor
is most likely to doubt the importance of the information
and not run it. Advertising can eliminate that doubt.
- Advertising is movement and growth. Advertising
breathes life into a firm, carrying it to new areas,
new markets, and new industries. A firm that keeps
moving grows and thrives, while dormant ones tend
- Advertising "spreads the word" about
a firm, and the more people who are familiar with
a firm -- and with the brand -- the greater the firm's
market power. Familiarity wields the power of persuasion
creating an avenue for others to pass on your information
- Advertising boosts morale. An important, empowering
element of advertising is pride. Advertising is a
source of pride for clients who have chosen the firm
as well as for staff who enjoy the excitement generated
by an ad campaign.
- Advertising stimulates conversation about a firm,
among clients, potential clients and competing firms.
When a prospective or existing client tells a member
of your firm, "I saw your firm's ad today,"
you have just been handed an opportunity to build
a relationship. Relationship building is vital, as
success in the service industry is based on strong
- Advertising can eliminate branding confusion, which
causes an identity crisis both within and without
your firm. Properly positioning the brand through
advertising will communicate to everyone what your
firm is about, removing all assumptions.
Advertising is an investment in growth, generating
opportunities, positioning a brand and reaching thousands
of potential clients. If the legal industry is based
on successful relationships, then your next goal should
be to learn to recognize and capitalize on the new opportunities
brought to you through advertising.
Terry Isner is Vice President of
Creative Services at Jaffe Associates.