Billboard Advertising for Lawyers

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I just read about a Detroit lawyer who is using billboards to drive business for her personal injury law firm. That article referenced this Free Press article on the same subject. However, do these advertising methods work? 


I have reviewed advertising and marketing campaigns for small law firms both online and offline. In most cases, it’s simply impossible to tell whether or not the ad is producing return on investment. This is largely because there are no tracking mechanisms in place to measure the effectiveness of the ad campaign.

In situations where tracking mechanisms are implemented, more often than not, the advertising is extremely inefficient, generating very few inquiries and even fewer viable clients.

On the other hand, especially for personal injury practices, one or two large victories can pay for an advertisement for a very long time. However, injury cases can be very expensive to pursue, and take a very long time to conclude, eating sharply into margins.

If you are going to give billboard advertising a shot, here are some things to consider:

  • Dedicated Tracking Numbers
  • – if you’re purpose is direct response, use a dedicated tracking number. That way, you can get an actual count of how many people called you firm directly from the billboard ad. You may also want to consider using a dedicated domain and email address too.

  • Reputation
  • – billboards are still frowned upon by many in the profession. Is it the medium? Is the implementation? My guess is that it’s a little of both. Think about what impact your billboard may have on your professional reputation among other lawyers.

  • Ethics
  • – of course you should also be sure that your billboard ad, like your other ads, complies with your state’s rules of professional responsibility.

Billboard advertising is traditional interruption advertising. To me, while billboards may have a place in terms of building brand recognition, I am skeptical of their ability to attract direct response business prospects. However, I must admit that I haven’t recently looked at Concrete performance numbers from a legal billboard ad campaign. My guess would be that they’re not very good.

Have you run a billboard ad for your law firm? Did you track its performance? Did it have any impact on your reputation that you could tell? What do you generally think about billboard advertising for lawyers?

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chapstickaddict/350371146/)

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  • At my old firm, we advertised on Billboards. We didn’t use a tracking number. We just asked when we did intakes why they called. I think you are right in that the Billboard itself did not generate the call or inquiry but rather it was part of a brand/name recognition that combined with other forms of advertising. In Pennsylvania, Billboard ads by lawyers are quite common in the populated areas like Philly and its suburbs.

    • Hi Dave, thanks for the comment. Billboards are pretty common on the way into Chicago too.

      In your experience, did you ever hear grumblings about the billboards from other attorneys? Perhaps I shouldn’t be, but I’m always surprised about how much attorneys can differ in opinion on various advertising efforts, and advertising altogether…

  • Billboards are a common sight along the highways around Florida, especially in the Orlando-metro area. I agree that they are more likely to increase a general brand recognition in combination with other methods of advertising. I doubt that anyone elicits services based on billboard advertising alone, but as pointed out, advertising sources are notoriously difficult to track without dedication. Like all methods of branding, I feel like billboards are an option to be explored, but might be a method that can be switched out for alternate methods on a seasonal or semi-annual schedule.

    • Interesting that many billboards seem to have a “direct response” focus. For example, they will include a call to action such as free consultation, or at-home visit.

      Seems that if brand recognition or exposure is the goal, the advertiser is better off focusing on including name, vanity phone number, etc.

  • You’ve made very good points. However, one important point is missed. Are measures in place to ensure that calls are answered by a live person? This can be especially important when the ad is specific to bankruptcy, personal injury or criminal defense. A live person present even after office hours might discourage the caller from continuing to shop around. A professional service dedicated to the legal industry can manage leads by scheduling free consults, collecting important intake information, even connecting high priority calls. If the agent is articulate, compassionate and manages the call effectively she will begin building trust with the potential client. If you choose not to have a live person then you run the risk of missing new client opportunities. It can be frustrating to see call received on a call report and yet there are no messages on your answering machine or voicemail.

  • You’ve made very good points. However, one important point is missed. Are measures in place to ensure that calls are answered by a live person? This can be especially important when the ad is specific to bankruptcy, personal injury or criminal defense. A live person present even after office hours might discourage the caller from continuing to shop around. A professional service dedicated to the legal industry can manage leads by scheduling free consults, collecting important intake information, even connecting high priority calls. If the agent is articulate, compassionate and manages the call effectively she will begin building trust with the potential client. If you choose not to have a live person then you run the risk of missing new client opportunities. It can be frustrating to see call received on a call report and yet there are no messages on your answering machine or voicemail.