Several months ago, I wrote an article for this blog entitled, “Looking For Ways To Waste Your Law Firm Budget Money? Print Yellow Pages Companies Are Still Signing Lawyers.” I listed reasons lawyers should look to advertising mediums other than yellow page directories and I listed some case studies. As we travel and speak at lawyer marketing conferences, I still hear that many law firms continue to cling to yellow page advertising. Recent moves by former yellow page giant AT&T should convince those remaining skeptics who still buy yellow page directory ads.
Print Yellow Pages
An April 17, 2012 USA Today article reported that as of last June, nearly 32% of U.S. households were wireless only, according to CTIA-The Wireless Association, up from 10.5% in 2006. The article also stated, “First it was street-corner phone booths and home delivery of telephone books. Now, land lines are on their way to becoming part of American telecommunications history.” It continued, “Bill sponsors and phone companies including AT&T say deregulating land-line phone service will increase competition and allow carriers to invest in better technology rather than expand a dying service.”
A 2011 USA Today article stated, “Even if a home has a landline, it is not necessarily used.” Another comment from the article was, “Many are deciding to cut the landline cord. “All they get are solicitations, and most calls are done on a wireless phone anyway, so it represents a waste of money,” says analyst Charles Golvin of Forrester Research.
Yellow Page directories and many legal directories are also struggling. AT&T agreed to sell a majority stake of YellowPages.com to a private equity firm. An April 9, 2012 USA Today article stated, “Revenue from the Yellow Pages unit has shrunk 30% in two years, as consumers continue to shun phone books in favor of the Web.” The article also stated, “AT&T, the largest U.S. phone company, is following in the footsteps of Verizon Communications (VZ), the second-largest, in cutting its exposure in the phone book business. Verizon spun off its directory business to shareholders in 2006, only to see it file for bankruptcy three years later.”
Through its Google Places listings, Google gives rankings’ preference to local law firms over national directories or national websites. Google states that, “97% of consumers search for local businesses online.” Legal directories are feeling the heat from that policy. In the past, Findlaw and Martindale directory listings often showed up in the first 10 results of a search for a lawyer, but that rarely happens now. Local law firms dominate the top 10 results because Google feels that people are searching for local resources. Prospective clients typically prefer not to drill down into a directory to make a choice among lawyers. I discussed this topic in a past article, “Are Legal Directories Effective Or A Waste of Advertising Money?”
There are a few remaining pockets of yellow page usage, e.g., the elderly and certain rural areas. Elder law and estate planning attorneys, for example, have clients who sometimes still use the yellow pages. Deals can be had if you decide to continue advertising in the yellow pages. In some markets, so many lawyers have left that good placement and pricing can be obtained. Private yellow page advertising consultants can obtain superb pricing for your law firm and can provide guidance on when and where to advertise. We can recommend two consulting companies to consider if you need assistance. One mega law firm that had routinely bought the back covers of books reported that when they went to cancel their advertising, a yellow pages company continued their ads at no charge for fear that numerous other law firms would cancel their ads.
What Lawyers Say
I am active in LinkedIn and manage a LinkedIn Law Web Marketing and law Web Social Media Group as well as belong to other legal marketing groups. In a recent “Legal Marketing” group discussion about the yellow pages and a past discussion, the overwhelming majority of lawyers and legal marketers stated that they have abandoned the yellow pages.
Ken Hardison of the PILMMA legal marketing group and Hardison & Cochran Raleigh personal injury law firm contributed this to the Legal Marketing group yellow pages discussion in 2011: “I track the sources of my cases closely as do many of the lawyers in our PILMMA.org legal marketing group. In the past, our firm spent over $600,000 per year on yellow page listings. Our ROI slowly went down to 2 to 1, the same as Grant Burton reported. We reduced our yellow pages spending to $45,000 and put the money into the Internet (using Dale Tincher’s company, Consultwebs) and television. The result was a significant increase in cases as well as higher quality cases. We currently receive a ROI of 10 to 1 from the Internet.”
Go Where The Market Goes
As is stated above, consumers continue to shun phone books in favor of the Web. Unlike the past when huge budgets were required to have a yellow pages or TV presence, small firms also have an opportunity to obtain a significant amount of business from the Internet by choosing the right law firm Internet marketing company or building their own internal SEO team.
Regardless of what advertising avenue you choose, be sure to track all of your advertising media. With proper law firm call tracking, you can determine the ROI of your advertising inquiries.
We hope you found this article helpful. If we can provide additional information about our law firm Web marketing services, please contact us at (877) 278-5677 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite you to visit our lawyer marketing website or our client testimonials.