More creativity is cheaper.
Stronger visuals cost less.
See this ad? It’s one previously used by a client, Lorne MacLean, a small firm inVancouver,BC. Nice guy, great lawyer, handsome photo, and a simple message which is clearly detailed in the text.
The style and structure makes perfect sense, right? It must, because it’s what most law firms tend to use. It’s a very common category of law firm marketing materials, both print ads and websites/blogs — uninspired photo and too much text.
Law firms hire a small local agency or web developer, or have their in-house team create something under specific instructions. It’s a lawyerly “Just the facts, Ma’am” approach, illustrated with a photo of one or more of their lawyers (or one of the 25 standard law firm cliches detailed here.). What could possibly go wrong?
The problem is, it’s a big waste of money. Although perfectly logical, it fails to accomplish a primary goals of any ad, website, or other visual marketing tool. It misses on all levels – the visual doesn’t grab the attention of anyone who isn’t actually pictured in the ad or directly related to them. (In this case, Lorne or his Mom, who loves him.) No one else would notice or care.
If the visual doesn’t grab your prospects they’ll never hang around long enough to read your text or absorb your message. Want some proof? What type of law does this firm practice? If you don’t know, the ad’s not working.
Frankly, your firm could run this ad 1000 times and no one would ever notice it. It’s invisible. You could read an article directly next to it and your brain would never even register what was directly adjacent. When you turn the page, it’s gone forever.
More than a waste of money, it’s a waste of opportunity. Firms have very few chances to significantly improve their bottom line; don’t squander them.
Law firms run ads like these all the time, especially smaller firm and those in smaller communities where they don’t encounter as much great marketing that can drive more competition.
Want to see the difference? Look at the wedding-cake ad. It’s the same firm and message as the one above — it’s just done better. It’s more visually impactful — more interesting and creative. It was actually designed to grab the readers’ attention and be remembered. And, of course, as a result, it does.
The very first time this ad runs, you’d notice it and remember it. And if I asked you a year from now, “Do you remember that divorce firm ad?” of course you would remember it. A great ad doesn’t require multiple insertions before it gets noticed and starts to work. A bland visual stays bad. How many visuals do you recall from the last publication you read? Exactly. Very few, if any.
Standing apart is hard; it takes courage and commitment, and a sophisticated understanding of marketing.
Now compare them in context, below, mocked up together in a print publication.
Which one are you looking at?
Now consider, which variety is your firm running, either in print, or on your website or blog?
Here’s the before-and-after on a website too.
I think it was The Economist that said we encounter 3,000 marketing messages per day. Is your marketing one of the top five? If it isn’t, then change it!