Make Sure Your Law Firm Ads Count

Make Sure Your Law Firm Ads Count

Law firms are approached every day about placing (often rather expensive) ads in relatively obscure industry-specific directories and magazines. Often, these publications target industries which their practice groups have identified as growing and having huge fee potential.

The sales representatives of these publications commonly say that tens of thousands of copies will be circulated to most all decision makers in the industry in your area. On the surface, it appears to be the “perfect” ad.

On my desk sits a “Hi Tech & Manufacturers Magazine and Directory.” It’s an example of what I am talking about. There are several hundred more copies stacked in the corner of my office building’s mail room gathering dust. They have been there for about 60 days. Several law firms purchased large ads in the publication.

Many special publications like this are just dumped off in mail rooms and lobbies in high-rises and office parks. The promised circulation never really occurs and the ads ultimately are of little or no effect.

Next time you are approached by a publication ask to see its “audited circulation statement.” This will show you, among other things, how many copies are sold to paid subscribers, individuals who have requested the publication and how many are sold on newsstands. Two of the largest independent circulation auditors are ABC and BPA. Ad agencies and media buyers (consider hiring the latter if you don’t have an agency) use independent circulation verification services to ensure their clients get what they pay for– and publications willingly pay to be audited so they can justify pricing and separate themselves from questionable opportunistic publications that cannot deliver readership, and advertising response. (The same goes for radio and TV ads– ask for the independently developed Arbitron ratings for radio and Nielsen ratings for TV.)

Absent an audited circulation, you run a substantial risk of your ad winding up on the floor of your local mailroom instead of in the hands of your target audience. [1]



  1. Bob Weiss is president of Alyn-Weiss and Associates, Inc., a Denver-based marketing consulting group which has worked with both corporate, transactional and defense firms and contingent fee practices nationwide for more than 20 years.

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