From the Madison Avenue “Mad Men” of the 1960s to contemporary thinkers on advertising, copywriting and design gurus can teach legal marketing departments a lot. Often, legal marketing is—in a field known for how good it is at persuasion—rather disappointing and bland. In this guide, we'll explore some lessons from the masters. Each of these quotes comes from an advertising professional who succeeded by having a unique understanding of why and how humans are persuaded to do the things they do. By incorporating their ideas into your legal marketing strategies for 2013, you'll be going beyond your competition and helping yourself to stand out in a crowded market.
#1: “What makes all the hysteria so silly and unwarranted is how quickly consumers digest and adjust to 'the future'–and how seamlessly it arrives.” Bob Hoffman
Hoffman, in his book 101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising, writes that marketers are always overly concerned with the idea that the future will represent a huge seismic shift, and that nothing will ever be the same. Instead, he says, the truth is far more prosaic: generally, consumers accept the future much more easily than the marketers do, and in spite of all the conferences proclaiming huge changes to how business is done, not much actually changes.
Most of the same strategies—listening to your clients, keeping up with technological developments, monitoring your competition, and so on—work today in the same basic ways that they did a century ago. The only real difference is that cultural changes have changed the ways in which you need to implement those strategies.
#2: “Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.” Howard Gossage
This is one of the most important maxims for online marketers to remember. People don't read corporate Twitter posts, or Facebook status updates, or blog entries, or attorney biographies. They read what interests them, and sometimes those are corporate Twitter posts, Facebook updates, blogs, or attorney bio pages. The trick is to make sure that for every single piece of content you create—no matter how large or how small—there's a reason for your audience to listen to what you're saying. Always give people a reason to be interested. If you can't come up with one, keep working on your content until you've got one. You're better off posting only a few interesting Facebook updates a week than five boring ones every day.
#3: “Never Write an Advertisement Which You Wouldn't Want Your Own Family To Read. You wouldn't tell lies to your own wife. Don't tell them to mine. Do as you would be done by.” David Ogilvy
Perhaps the single most famous ad man of all time, Ogilvy's campaigns didn't work by insulting or lying to audiences. Ogilvy believed advertising should go beyond slogans and into consumers' motivations for buying products. This is great advice to keep in mind when you're thinking about your website content. Don't use puffery and don't say anything that you'd be embarrassed to have even your closest friends or family members read.
#4: “Your ad begins as an interruption. Make paying attention to it feel like a reward.” Lee Clow
This wisdom comes from a book of tweets by famous contemporary advertising guru Lee Clow. Whenever you put up a pay per click advertisement for your law firm, you're interrupting someone's browsing space. Give them something for that interruption. Make sure that your website has good legal information and helps legal consumers understand your firm's practice areas and personality.
#5: “The secret of all effective advertising is not the creation of new and tricky words and pictures, but one of putting familiar words and pictures into new relationships.” Leo Burnett
There's no reason for you to try to create whole new ways of thinking about the law in your content. In fact, because consumers can be somewhat uncomfortable when they're looking for legal services, you should probably try to make sure that they're seeing content that doesn't add to their stress. Keep your language relatively plain, and don't use too much legal jargon.
At the same time, try to use some of the more familiar language you're using to talk about seeing legal problems differently. Giving people a new way to understand their issues will make them more comfortable with calling your firm and scheduling a consultation.
#6: “Radio gave birth to impertinent advertising. Never before the advent of radio did advertising have such a golden opportunity to make an ass out of itself.” William J. Cameron
If Cameron's quote is right, then surely the internet has brought impertinent advertising into its full-fledged adulthood. When you make mistakes in your marketing today, your faux pas can immediately be broadcast to the internet. For many reasons, people have a greater tendency to share things with friends that are embarrassing or negative than they are to share positive things they hear about a company. It's not fair, but that's life, and eventually it will probably catch up with your law firm—no one can be perfect all the time.
The only thing you can do if you make a mistake is to apologize for it and move on. While it's a good idea to delete anything that was embarrassing you, this doesn't mean you should deny it was there or try to pretend it didn't happen. Own up to anything embarrassing and keep going—people will forget as time goes by.
#7: “There is no such thing as too long. Only too boring.” Dan Kennedy
When trying to decide how long a particular piece of content should be, let the medium, the audience, and how interesting the writing is guide you. A single sentence can be incredibly boring if it's poorly constructed, while a great writer can keep an audience captivated for pages and pages about topics that wouldn't usually be considered interesting at all.
Being boring is the biggest sin you can commit on the internet if you want to be a marketing success. Make sure someone's taking a look at your marketing content to establish whether it will hold your readers' attention./