Is all law marketing doomed for failure? The author says YES.

Lawyers and attorneys are a dime a dozen. Especially when it comes to their legal marketing initiatives.

How many attorney based Yellow Pages ads exist that is simply incestuous? (“Incest-marketing” is the practice of copying other legal marketing ads, letters, brochures and more.)

Try this: Open the Yellow Pages. Turn to the legal/attorney sections and see for yourself. What is the difference between any of them?? They all look the same.

Who can you trust? Everybody says the same thing, pretty much. Everybody got suckered into advertising that doesn’t work.

What does the legal industry at large share as the perception from the public side? (Malpractice suits and cases like the Hammer don’t help a pervasive negative view.)

What reputation have lawyers created for themselves? Not great.

And, while funny, perhaps – it’s serious: how many lawyer jokes exist already? (there are almost 15 million results in Google for it!).

How do you create your name as the MOST TRUSTED ATTORNEY IN TOWN?

If you asked just a small sampling of say, 10 people in your local market: “who is the top, or best legal counselor or legal firm that you know of, and that can be trusted”?  The answers would be many, but a common thread would be “I don’t know, I’m not sure (or… I don’t care, don’t need one)”.

And here is what NOT to consider at this time: See, I can share with you the latest awesome online widgets, shiny objects, tools, ads, landing page samples, website designs, search engine tactics and social media strategies for the legal profession, but that too is a dime a dozen. It doesn’t matter.

Attitudes matter.

In fact, it’s your own stinkin’ thinkin’ that is the main reason why it won’t work for you. And, I’m not including external factors like thousands of marketing messages ‘bombarding’ your audience each day, intense competition, ethical advertising rules imposed by state bar advertising committees, lawyer directories, blog directories, etc. That’s not the issue.

But, if you get it right – it will… well, it just might work for you this time. We’ll dig into this some more next.

A bit abrasive?

Oh, and I understand that some will not like this post. That’s OK, I’m only writing to the the professional legal community who look to create value, profit and quality, and want to build “differentiation” (even when they realize it may be hard initially).

Your mountain-top battle.

But first, at the core of this law firm marketing model lies a hidden challenge: your audience only needs somebody to handle legal matters when something “bad” is about to, or has happened to them. It’s similar to selling life insurance: you use scare-fear-trust tactics to assume (and try to solve) a future problem. You begin to acquire clients in “non-reality worlds”. It’s that whole discussion around “needs and wants” in marketing. People NEED water, food, shelter. They WANT a new car, a new house, etc. Do they need or want you? Time will tell.

This is the fact.

The truth is – most of the legal businesses I’ve seen and interacted with share one thing in common: they are lawyers (duh) – but not marketers (a big DUH). My strong recommendation is this: you need to quit thinking like an educated & successful attorney, degrees from top universities, blah, blah, blah…. You must shift to the more entrepreneurial mindset now.

See, you were taught in law school to think like a lawyer. This must stop, or your legal practice new case acquisitions and revenues will continue on a downward trend.

Get inspired (again).

You are now entering into a new, exciting world to make this change for you, your business, your family.You can become the enlightened one, the legal guru that all business (naturally) come to, the trusted authority that DOES NOT spend millions on radio and TV. Your own spiritual self will be lifted out of the doldrums and current day negativity.  (Incidentally, studies have shown that the depression scale among practitioners in the legal industry is unnaturally high… think about that.)

Your health, relationships, productivity is more important. How are YOU feeling right now? Are you down, or up? Excited to see another day? Let’s explore together as we build out your abundance mentality… (but let’s dig a little deeper first)

Here is the list of NO-NO’s: (things you should not do, think or say):

  • I don’t like that ad. An ad or copy/page with lots of information will not be read. That’s “the other kind” of marketing. It doesn’t work for me.
  • I must sign on the dotted line today, or my competition will get them. At all cost!
  • I must be seen as a full-service firm, whether big or small. I must be available via my personal cell-phone, email and optional chat 24/7. Clients need me to.
  • I must run my TV and radio at last 7-10 times for it to be effective.
  • I must change and update my contract with the Yellow Pages representative, and ahead of time.
  • I must spend a lot of time at networking meetings, committees and avail myself to boards, so that I can get referrals. I’ll take some of the ‘low-end’ cases too.
  • I just follow the others in my market, because if it’s working for them (they are ‘everywhere’), it will work for me.

While this post is not a guide on how to market your law practice, I hope it’s becoming clear that between your mindset and positioning (USP = Unique Sales/Selling Proposition), you’ll begin to separate yourself head of your competition. In fact, by doing the opposite of everybody else in your legal industry, you’ll be moving ahead.

AND – testing new marketing avenues without worrying about failure is not only refreshing, but it is important. (and, in marketing – you’ll see that we use the word “TEST” a lot. It may take some getting used to. Fair warning.)

Finally, here is the list – a framework to consider before spending any more money on your legal advertising strategies.



Use strong copy and headlines that attract and differentiate in all your advertising. Try to enter the conversation already going on in the prospects head.


What is a unique, compelling offer that you can make right now? What will make the visitor or reader stand up and take action? (And, I’m not talking about just a sales pitch for services. This might be for an educational course, download of special guides, free tele-course, webinars, etc)


Implement growth strategies for your existing fans and clients. What is it in your practice that they keep coming back for? Think 80/20. What 20% of efforts and products bring in the most revenue?


Admit and recognize that marketing at this level is not easy. It’s not an ‘over-night’ thing. Any theory-based, charlatan-driven, and non-experienced leadership for building your marketing plans and funnels must be avoided. Get the best information, and apply it steadily over time. A multi-approach is best, not “one after the other”. While simple, it’s not easy. You must face that fact.


Find and decide on your best client types. Who are they? Where do others find them? Where did you find yours? Where can you find more? Finally, write down the attributes of your ‘perfect’ client. Who and what cases is it a pleasure to work with and on?


Understand and apply the best SEO (search engine optimization) strategies and tactics to get found in search engines. And, if you are local attorney firm (very likely), ensure that you are well positioned in the local search engines. Start with Google Places. (it’s free)


Find out the top destinations for advertising – both online (Google, SEO, PPC) and offline. Test and validate. Impact and profits over “branding”.

8. NEWS!

Create a newsletter. Make this at least a monthly outgoing piece. Make this available offline (earth-mail). Make it exclusive to your audience.


Create and build out an auto-responder. Make sure you capture information on all your online materials. Use a service like to start. Send relevant information to your audience, and stay in touch regularly. Build trust, authority and likability through multiple channels. Be information, educational. 80% content, 20% sales-pitch is a good rule.


Build out your own ‘marketing system’. Think like a marketer, follow and sign up for others in your market that seem ‘different’. Read their stuff, but don’t copy. Continue to grow and cultivate your followers. (And no, it doesn’t mean a high Twitter follower count, or a bunch of Facebook Likes. Develop social media PAID followers.)

I hope this helps you to think differently this time. And, it’s OK to become a marketer and an entrepreneur. In fact, your legal practice, family and clients depend on YOU for it.

What cases are you looking for RIGHT now?

What can you take away and implement from the above list that would impact that the fastest? (You probably already know!).

By the way, you may think – “I don’t have time to do all this“. Shoot me a note, and I’ll be happy to share why you’re wrong. You may also be interested in the upcoming 2-day legal workshop and seminar. (If you qualify, it can change your life.)

sign up for 2-day legal workshop/seminar with jon rognerud


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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.