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Yellow pages grasping in selling law firms new online gimmicks

Acknowledging that they are getting killed by the Internet and by people’s ability to search for a local lawyer on the search engines, the yellow pages are really reaching this time. Per a story in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal (sub req’ed), yellow pages are selling video ads to law firms that will accompany the law firm’s online yellow page listing.

Read the article and you’ll see that video like this is totally unproven as a local advertising tool. But it’s being done as it fits right in with the yellow pages business model of always up-selling lawyers. Before it was color and large display ads. Now, added to your free online listing, it’s $1,000 for the ad production and then a payment for each click by a user to play the ad.

Plus, are you really going to trust page yellow page sales people to make sure you get a nice video? I was a plaintiff’s trial lawyer for 17 years. I bought plenty of yellow page ads. Took me a number of years to reach my own opinion that the sales person really didn’t give a darn how my ad looked as long as they up-sold me and got their sale.

Even the WSJ article notes production problems:

…[A]dvertisers have to be careful that they don’t hurt business with ads that look too cheesy. Some directory businesses hire videographers who try to steer advertisers away from content that might turn off consumers. But it doesn’t always work. Some of the ads look like snippets of infomercials with shots of cheery employees answering phones at a beauty salon, for example. Directory companies try to avoid problems by screening ads to make sure they’re G-rated and include basic information about businesses.

There are any number of ways for law firms to use the Internet effectively. Trying gimmicks meant to serve outmoded yellow pages business models are not among them.

  • http://www.GreatLegalMarketing.com Ben Glass

    Of course, done well, video can be an effective addition to your on line marketing weapons. Like anything else though, you can’t trust the yellow page rep, or any “media vulture” to coach you on how to use video most effectively. If all lawyers are going to do is put up a cheesy TV ad on the Internet, then they’ll be wasting more money. I think that the videos at http://www.RappLaw.com are well done and we’ve tried to model them at http://www.BenGlassLaw.com.

  • kenc

    Why would I be surprised that a lawyer that has a blog looks at anything a YP publisher does with a skeptical eye?
    What you missed in your commentary is that the majority of small business need and welcome help with their marketing efforts. They may be great at running their business 14+ hours a day but beyond that, they really do want assistance. And who is going to provide that help???
    I hate to burst your bubble but having gone on numerous rides with YP reps, the vast majority of small businesses, including many of your brethren in the legal industry are actually glad to have someone they can talk with. The reps I have observed in action take great pride in working with these businesses, helping them navigate the many options available to them. I doubt you will believe this but these reps do care beyond just cashing a commission check. You would know that if you bothered to see how they will support within their own company why the program that was put together for the client was the best option for that advertiser, and not what corporate may have suggested they sell.
    Also the videos you are seeing the news reports about aren’t meant to be an Emmy award winning video. They are intended to be a very real, accurate representation by a very proud owner of what their business is.
    Hence, they are being warmly received by businesses.

  • http://kevin.lexblog.com Kevin

    Agree with Ben that video done well and with the right content (education based, as opposed to promotional) can be effective.
    Though I am sure there are some very nice people who sell yellow page ads, on and offline, I am not buying the sincerity of the yellow page business in trying to help lawyers. The yellow pages had a $1 Billion gravy train in lawyer yellow page ads. This is going up in smoke. Now they are reinventing themselves as knowing something about effective Internet marketing. That’s a big leap.
    I practiced law for 17 years and knew a lot of lawyers. Never heard lawyers welcoming their meeting with the yellow pages folks.
    And let’s not confuse marketing with yellow page ads. A lawyers best work comes via word of mouth based on the lawyer’s skill, expertise, passion, and care. Marketing focused on further enhancing the lawyers reputation as a reliable and trusted authority in their niche is the key to getting work by word of mouth. A yellow page ad – on or offline does little, if anything to enhance a lawyers reputation as an authority.

  • Pedro

    Well Kevin sounds to me like you didn’t have the ability of turning the calls in to sales. Also, it sounds like you have your figures a little inflated. I have Seach Engine Marketing through and I only pay $550 per month and also have a 1/2 page ad with an additional 3rd ad and pay nothing near the figures your mentioning in your blogs. Yellow pages is a way to find NEW business and it has worked for me in that way very profitably. Maybe because I track where my business comes from and manage my budget accordingly.
    Get your facts (or lack there of) straight Kevin.