Will the Yellow Pages help your law firm marketing?

The television commercial from the year 2000 featured an irate boss who yells the catchphrase at Jan, her employee who forgot to place their company’s ad in the Yellow Pages.  The term “Not happy, Jan” became so popular it took on a life of its own, and the phrase entered the Australian vernacular.

Everyone knew the ad and everyone ‘got it’ because it perfectly described how every boss would have felt had their ad been left out of the Yellow Pages.

That was in 2000, so does the same hold true today?  Well, the Yellow Pages rep will still say “yes” but that is about all who will.

So what does this have to do with law firm marketing?

In the last fortnight we encountered two situations involving Yellow Pages which help illustrate why they are going the way of the dinosaur. First, there was the law firm principal who was asked to sign up about $15k for the firms Yellow Pages advertising by the sales rep who was justifying the spend. The solicitor was wary and said his gut was telling him it was a bad move. He didn’t know what law firm marketing he should be doing instead but he sensed that this was too much to justify. He knew that new matters had been declining so last year’s ad sure wasn’t helping. He contacted us and we discussed the points which we make in this article.

Secondly, in an unrelated incident a solicitor told us last week that he had been trying to contact a client of his law firm but was unable to because the clients internet was down and he had forgotten their contact details.  It was a story against himself, because he said (with embarrassment) it was hours later that it occurred to him to try the Yellow Pages to get the number.

This story says it all really. The reality is that nobody thinks about the Yellow Pages to find anything, to reach clients or to communicate with anyone whose contact details we need- instead we Google them.

So ask yourself what the Yellow Pages and the dinosaur have in common.

So what should you do instead?

It depends on where your firm is in its law firm marketing journey. You should have a website. If your firm doesn’t have one, just get a simple 10 page one built. Forget about the smoke and mirrors and just put in content that, in simple terms, tells clients why they should see you. You can get the fancy stuff in your second generation website in a couple of years. Just make sure it is mobile friendly.

For firms with a basic website or if your website is say over 3 years old it’s probably time for a make-over to take it up a standard.

For experienced law firm marketers, with slick websites, high SEO rankings (or striving for them) and AdWords campaigns, you have probably already run the ruler over Yellow Pages.

What your firm should also be doing is communicating with the firms existing clients and referrers. How should it do that?  By sending them an electronic newsletter informing them about different issues affecting the law and keeping them up to date.

Sounds simple but why would this work? It works because what the firm is doing is maintaining a constant and ongoing communication with the clients.  You might think you have nothing important to say but that’s not how a client would see it.  To a client your firm is that of a trusted advisor. To a trusted advisor you listen.

What happens is that when the clients and referrers receive the newsletter they remember the general message and review it at a later time, or pass it onto a friend or relative, if the topic is relevant to them. They may not need you now, but when they do they will remember you.

Don’t forget that whilst it is good to seek new work from the world at large with AdWords or SEO rankings it is significantly cheaper to seek work from those who already know and trust you – your past and existing clients, referrers and friends of the firm.  Whatever you do don’t forget them because they are your best resource and the group from whom you are most likely to get work.

Let us know if you want to know more about that by clicking here to get more information.


So the answer to the question in the title is not just “No” it’s “Hell no!” I have long held the view that the Yellow Pages are a waste of money for lawyers. Put your money instead towards a newsletter program that once it is set up, you can set and forget it. Like your website it works away for you 24/7. It’s cheaper and it’s a smarter move.


About the author

Brian Hicks

Brian Hicks

Brian has more than twenty years’ experience in marketing and management across diverse industries including legal, real estate, tourism and technology. Brian lives in Sydney with his wife and two daughters.

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