20130105-124546.jpg Charlie White (@charlie_white) of Mashable asks “Does Anyone Really Believe Advertising Anymore?” A mere 3% of people think ads are “very accurate,’ with 76% believing advertisements contain exaggerated claims. This per a study just released by market research firm Lab42. The ads which leave a lasting impression? Educational ones. What’s this mean for law firms? One, focusing on advertising, whether online or offline, is not going to bring you long term success. Ads include websites which describe your firm, its lawyers, the type of work the firm does, and personal accolades. Using social media, SEO, or any other means to drive to traffic to your law firm website is foolhardy. You’re bringing people to something they do not trust. Two, the Internet, used effectively, is all about what people trust and is all about what has worked for lawyers doing business development over the last 100 years. Lawyers and law firms retain and procure their best clients by virtue of a word of mouth reputation and relationships. Relationships and a word of mouth reputation are achieved by doing good work and networking. Don’t look at the Internet as a place to advertise and market. Look at the net as a place to network to nurture existing relationships and build new ones. Look at the net as a place to further enhance your word of mouth reputation. Third, your Internet efforts should be education based. Education and lawyers who are really looking to help others, whether in a consumer or business atmosphere, will be remembered. Don’t look at education in the form of information on a website or alerts/newsletters you send out. Education, especially in the day of social media and social networking, involves engagement. Engagement where listening first, not broadcasting first, is the key. Put your time and effort into what works and what the public trusts. Education based networking and engagement. Don’t put your time and effort into advertising and driving people to your website. Image courtesy of Flickr by Colleen Lane.