Okay. We’ve talked about free listings vs. advertisements, negotiation tactics, advertising philosophy, book selection and ad order. We have looked at law firm phone book advertising every which way you can — but there is still one burning question that remains to be answered…
Can your firm afford to stop advertising in the phone book?
The quick and simple answer is probably not. This answer comes with a lot of factors — mostly the demographics of your average client. We know that older, lower-income, rural clients still use the phone book. We would love nothing more than for our book of methods to be completely useless — but the fact remains that our data shows a surprising amount of leads still come from phone book listings and advertisements. How many?
Kirkpatrick started our focus on law firm advertising approximately five years ago. With that focus came the constant battle of negotiating phone book advertising. However, we didn’t form our engineered approach to these negotiations until approximately 2013. Over those three and a half years, we have represented several law firms throughout the Southeast. These are law firms of all shapes and sizes from major cities to one-horse towns. Some firms are father-and-son operations, while others have a dozen partners on the payroll.
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For these clients, in these past three years we have negotiated approximately 50 ads in as many books. We have dealt with representatives in charge of a single rural book, or offices in charge of several.
All this to say: We have seen about every situation you can dream up. That is — our data is fairly representative of most of the possibilities. What we have found is that:
Over three years our methods (across all media) have generated 15,408 leads for our clients.
Of those leads:
43% came from the phone book.
Of those leads:
more than one-third came from paid phone book advertising.
A couple of things become apparent when you look at the bare numbers:
- It is consistently surprising how many leads come from the free “White Pages” listings in the phone book. If you look back, you can see that we attribute these calls to…
- Return Customers, who already know your firm name.
- Word of Mouth – Customers who hear about you from another client
- Or someone who remembers your firm name from television, radio or other advertising, and simply looks you up!
- Despite all other advertising or digital trends — the phone book is still accounting for two-thirds of the business our clients see.
Is the success of law firm phone book advertising a fluke? Most likely. Few other industries see this much success across the board from this form of advertising. Is it a fluke that can (or should) be ignored. Absolutely not. As the saying goes, “The proof is in the pudding.”
At the end of the day, I trust my numbers and my numbers say that any law firm that drops out of phone books better have a pretty good plan to make up for almost half of their leads. And even if you stayed in the listings, but stopped advertising you’d have to make up for 10%. At the end of the day, digging these leads out of another medium would probably be a tougher process than following a some of our simple methods to guide you through renegotiating your phone book ad strategy.