Should You Cancel Your Law Firm’s Yellow Pages ad?

yellow page advertising If you think advertising in the Yellow Pages is not right for your law firm, you may be right. But not so fast.

Did you used to run a big double truck, but then the response fell off year over year and finally you got out while the getting was good? Or, are you one of the many who are thinking of pulling the plug, but are more concerned about what you may lose than what you are not now getting?

There is no doubt that the Internet has eroded Yellow Pages response and will continue to do so. But, the question is not, “Can the Yellow Pages fill all my client acquisition needs?”. The question is: can I get an acceptable ROI from my Yellow Pages investment?

Think of it this way: if you have many ways to get a client and they are all monitored and maintained, then keep all the ones that are working and throw out the rest. There is one thing you need to make it work in the Yellow Pages. And don’t be too shocked when I tell you what it is.

You need a good Yellow Pages ad!

Do you even know what one looks like? I highly doubt it. You’ve never seen one. Everything you’ve seen is a copy of a copy of a compendium of other copies. I know you know this because you’ve traveled and looked in the Yellow Pages books in other markets.

Year over year the directory reps fan out across the nation and lead their law firm clients in a compare and steal mission, poaching mediocre and unstrategic elements from the other perennial advertisers.

I call it “the greatest hits of same old same old”.

The blind are leading the blind over another cliff, again! Hurry, you have ‘til the 19th to get your ad in for the (phony) deadline. And you know what? Many of the “innovators” of the ads the ads you are copying are based on stopped advertising a long time ago.

The marketplace for lawyer yellow page advertising is hopelessly distorted (Unlike Google Adwords, for instance) because most law firms do not know how to track their response and ROI effectively. And a lot of lawyers occasionally make a big kill and then run a lot of ineffective advertising for a year or two, creating distorted perceptions in the market.

But enough of the gloom and despair. It is quite possible to differentiate yourself powerfully in the Yellow Pages. It takes a bit of guts. Or sense. If you could just get it that doing what everybody else is doing cannot possibly be the answer, the ideas I’m about to share just might hit home with you.

Whether or not you advertise in the Yellow Pages, here are a few things you need to know:

1 How Should I Look at the Yellow Pages?

You should understand the nature of the beast, which may come as a surprise. Here’s the secret: the Yellow Pages Is NOT A Visual Medium! (Huh?) Yes, really, no kidding.

But how can that be? Aren’t all ads supposed to look great and employ a lot of “white space”? Sorry to break it to you, but those are two of the big lies that agencies and graphic artists have been perpetuating for years, which have been consistently disproved by response testing.

The Yellow Pages may be full of color and pictures and maps and words. And yes, you have to LOOK at the page to read it, but it is not a visual medium. Let me offer you an analogy to explain:

Imagine going to a fancy restaurant and ordering supper. The waiter brings your order along with a picture of a beautiful meal, which looks even better than the one you ordered. Which one would you eat?

The incorrect assumption everyone makes is that appearance counts for more than substance in the Yellow Pages. Anybody who tells you this does not understand the state of mind of your Yellow Pages prospect in need. The only time a prospect looks at your ad is when they are in dire need and ready to take action. They are not looking for pretty pictures.

With nothing but pretty pictures to choose from, your prospect will have to pick one. But, when there’s one good information ad, and several pretty pictures, the information ad will win, hands down, every time.

2 The Cardinal Sin of Print Advertising, Yellow Pages or other

The biggest mistake law firm Yellow Pages advertisers make is to assume that the theme of their ad should be: “Who we are, what we do, and how to reach us”. The second biggest error is not having a great headline. Here’s a clue: Your name and logo are not a headline. They are the least important things in your ad.

I know they are important to you. And you got a whole whack of CLE credits listening to various wizards drone on about branding.

Yellow Pages is not a branding opportunity. It’s an “at need” opportunity.

Until a person decides to call you and knows exactly why, your logo and name and number are worth exactly diddly squat. But, at that magic moment of their decision, and not before, your company name and number can become the most important thing in the world for them. But size and look has nothing to do with it.

3. It’s about THEM, not you.

If you could but understand the mindset of your prospect in their moment of need, you would dominate your heading year after year. Look at last year’s ad if you have one. Is it all about that person; what they are thinking, what they are feeling, the decision they face? Or is it about you trying to look dominant?

Without a compelling case offered, the prospect is stuck with eenie, meanie, miney moe

How To Double The Response

To Your Yellow Pages Ad

You will double your response — EASILY — if you turn your ad into an information piece, or “advertorial” based on a deep understanding of what’s going on in the mind of a prospect for your services. Why? Because the person who is in distress wants information—all the credible information they can get their hands on, right now. For it to be credible, you have to be credible. For you to be credible, you have to stop yelling.

And, even more than that, you will stick out like a sore thumb. Your ad will jump off the page and it will look like an information piece, not a sales pitch. Everyone else is saying, “I’m the best!” and you are giving them precisely the information they crave. Who do you think they’ll want to talk to?

I have seen information ads multiply the response of image ads in the Yellow Pages on many occasions. In every case, the directory rep tried to talk my client out of running the ad. Don’t listen to them!

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Filed under advertising, law firm marketing, yellow pages advertising

5 responses to “Should You Cancel Your Law Firm’s Yellow Pages ad?

  1. Pingback: Why Do You Need A Yellow Page Advertisement? « Marketing From the Heart

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  5. RaiulBaztepo

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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