In this tough and competitive economy, most law firm partners are looking for ways to cut costs. Corporate spending on legal services has only grown 1.2 percent in 2012—a rate slower than cost increases due to inflation. This means attorneys are getting hungry, and competition is stiffer than ever, making effective advertising critical to getting new business without spending too much per new client. This guide will give you eight different ways to save money on advertising, so you can spend more on personnel expenses, research, and technology.
#1: Rethink Television Ad Campaigns
The old standby of legal television advertisements where attorneys talk to clients from in front of an imposing shelf of law books is so much of a cliché that it's unlikely your clients are paying much attention. Most television ads are expensive and difficult to actually target—the vast majority of people you're paying to reach will have no need for your services, and there's no way to ensure that your ad is being played on the channel the highest number of potential clients are watching in a particular week.
Unless you've had a great deal of success with your television advertising, consider cutting it to save money on advertising. If you've been thinking of starting to advertise on TV but you don't have any ideas for your advertisements except for what you've seen before, that idea is a non-starter. Keep in mind that 9 in 10 clients today turn to the internet in order to research attorneys before deciding on a law firm to represent them.
#2: Get on Youtube
Youtube is the web's most popular video uploading and hosting service. Until services like Youtube became common, it was difficult for most attorneys to have video as part of their websites. Every time someone would watch the video, it would use upstream bandwidth from the law firm's hosting company, and bandwidth limits meant that a website's popularity could actually crash it or lead to huge overage fees.
Today, all that is just a distant memory, because now the only cost associated with making videos is the actual production itself, allowing attorneys to save money on advertising with video. You should hire someone to professionally produce your Youtube videos—preferably with better production values than bad local TV advertising companies. Doing it yourself is only for seasoned pros—you don't want to save money on advertising but lose all of your viewers due to bad video or sound quality.
#3: Use Geotargeting in Online Ad Campaigns
If you're trying to use pay per impression or pay per click ads, you'll save money on advertising if you try to make your searches dependent on location. The vast majority of law firms get most of their clients locally, and if you're one of those firms, you should be confining your advertisements to people in the zip codes or neighborhoods closest to you. People are much more likely to convert when they click on an advertisement for an attorney's office that turns out to be down the street than they are when the ad they clicked on directs them to attorneys 200 miles away in a large city. Avoiding targets who are further away helps you save money on advertising right away.
#4: Identify Successful Keywords for Your Site
If you already know some keywords that you want to bring people to your site, you may be having trouble getting onto the top page of search results for those keywords. That is often because you're not being specific enough or choosing the right keyword variants to get a good combination of low price and high return.
There are several different computer programs you can buy to help you save money on advertising by improving this aspect of your approach. You can develop a comprehensive keyword list for your website's search engine optimization and your pay per click ad buys. Google even offers these tools for AdWords, making it easy to predict approcimately how much traffic you'll receive with a particular batch of AdWords.
#5: Do Research on What Works For Others
If you know that one of your competitors, or a similar firm to yours in a different location, has been successful, don't just be jealous—start learning what they're doing right. Many successful strategies still leave room for you to leave your brand's mark or even figure out a way to improve them even further. You may be able to save money on advertising by enacting their cost saving strategies.
#6: See What Has Been Working For You
The worst thing you can do is keep using a strategy that has been unsuccessful because you haven't taken the time to properly analyze its success or failure. Using analytics is a great way to make sure that the trends you've been noticing anecdotally are actually observable or whether you're just experiencing confirmation bias. You may be surprised—the human brain is very good at detecting patterns where none necessarily exist. What you thought was evidence that your new social media strategy was working may turn out to have been nothing more than random noise in your data. You can save money on advertising by ditching the campaigns that haven't done enough for you while keeping the ones that the data shows have been working.
#7: Create Experiments and Analyze
While sticking with what works is a good idea, you also should be looking for new ways to advertise that work. You'll save money on advertising in the long term by experimenting with different forms of advertising, different demographic targeting, and different goals and purposes for your ads. By thinking of experiments and controlling them well (for example, by only changing one thing in each new experiment so that you always know which variable would have been the one affecting the outcome), you can save money on advertising and beat your competitors to new and innovative tactics.