As previously discussed, cash flow is tight for many law firms due to our economy. While true, this doesn’t negate the fact that there is much competition between the 84,000 attorneys in Florida and the over 1 Million attorneys in the United States for new cases and clients, regardless of area of practice or geographic location. And I’ve yet to meet an attorney, who, even in these slow economic times, didn’t want to increase their “fair share” of new clients and cases.???????? ????? ???????? However, many of these same attorneys don’t want to increase their level of spending on marketing.

This said, the issue of capturing one’s fair share may not be about marketing more, but about marketing smarter. Many firms are already spending sums of money on marketing, but have much of those funds tied up yellow page advertising, and have no real handle on whether the investment is paying off or whether there is more effective ways to leverage that money.

Pick up any yellow pages directory, and you will typically see an attorney ad on the back cover, one on the spine, several double page “tab” ads, and many, many double-truck and full page ads. The cost of these ads are definitely not cheap, and while some law firms swear that they receive strong response from their yellow pages ads, few have the process in place to effectively track the intake and thus, cannot identify the true ROI of that investment.

Most law firms, however, end up renewing their ads year after year, and the cycle continues, whether the firm can quantify the value of the investment or not. These firms renew out of fear, apathy or force of habit.

Some law firms do actually get good cases from their ads, however over the last several years, consumers’ use of the yellow page directories has diminished, and there are several independent analysts, including the Kelsey Group (a Research Group focusing specifically on the Yellow Page industry and “local search” trends) who are predicting erosion of yellow page usage by 10% in 2008.

My point here is that many firms are spending money on yellow page advertising in a tight economy at the detriment to other proactive marketing programs without understanding the true ROI or opportunity cost of that investment and wonder why their phones aren’t ringing. Alternatively, these law firms could spend this same money on their websites, advertising programs, public relations or attorney referral programs. But until they understand the payback of this and other investments, and take a proactive approach to their marketing budget, they will be at the whim of the yellow page directories, and the economy.