What’s the Best Way for Lawyers to Start Advertising?

Are Other Lawyers’ Advertising Leaving Your Law Firm Behind?

If you’re a personal injury lawyer who gets cases by referral and it’s getting harder for your law firm to get clients, you may wonder what the best way is for lawyers to start advertising.

If you’re starting to advertise, don’t have a lot of money, are tired of seeing other lawyers advertising, and want to know how to start advertising your law firm, this article is for you.

Determine Your Advertising Budget

First, you need to determine the annual advertising budget you can afford, the population/size of the market you want to target, and how much money you should spend on advertising.

Your advertising budget is like buying a house, car, or an engagement ring. You’ll spend more than you anticipated.

If your advertising budget is less than $2,500 per month, that’s OK. You can start with as little as the cost of business cards (see below to learn how to start with business cards).

The amount of money you have to invest in an annual advertising budget will expand or narrow your advertising options and determine which type of advertising media you should consider first when you start advertising.

Tip: Don’t try advertising for a few months to see if it works. You’ll lose your money. If you can’t make a permanent commitment to an advertising budget, don’t do it. Start with one of the suggestions below.

How Can a Lawyer Start Advertising Without Money?

It is possible to start a personal injury advertising campaign without money. I did. I started my law practice with just my business cards.

You have to do three things with business cards to get accident clients:

  1. Design the cards to look different,
  2. Your cards need to tell the recipient what benefits them.
  3. Give your cards to everyone you come in contact with.

Business Cards

I started and built a busy personal injury law practice using only business cards. The cost, in 1991, was approx. $80 for 2,000 business cards.

Other lawyers don’t know how to start a law practice with business cards. Since I had been involved with advertising since 8th grade, I knew I had to design my business cards differently to attract clients.

First, my business cards had to stand out to be noticed and read by the recipient, which meant they could not look like a professional lawyer’s card.

I created the design in the image below to look like a wallet billboard. When I gave my business cards to people, they took notice and read them!

Second, my cards told people how they benefited.

  • People know lawyers are hard to speak with. So my cards said: I TAKE PRIDE IN PERSONALIZED SERVICE.
  • Who wants to fill out forms? So my cards said: Don’t fill out any forms!
  • Medical bills are more of a pain to deal with than the injury from the accident! So my cards said: I take care of your medical bills.
  • Another benefit said: No legal fees until you collect. This says they’ll get money and won’t have to pay a fee until they do.

When I first made the business cards, they didn’t have 1-800-HURT-911 on the cards because I didn’t have the vanity phone number yet. I added it a year later, but I was already on the way to building a personal injury law practice.

Adding 1-800-HURT-911® to my business cards helped a lot because people were impressed and thought they saw me on TV (I wasn’t). Later, I designed new 1-800-HURT-911® business cards that worked great. But now, we only advertise with Google Ads. This way, I don’t even know who our clients are anymore.

You can design a business card like this without a vanity phone number, and your cards will work.

Attorney Phil Franckel's original business card advertising his personal injury practice

The business card I used to start advertising my personal injury practice

Third, I had to give my business cards out to a lot of people, 2,000 people, since I had 2,000 cards. If I didn’t give them out, I wouldn’t have the chance to get any clients.

I made a rule that everyone I came into contact with would get a card.

It was difficult the first time, but I ignored my embarrassment and did it. I gave my card to the cashier in a store. When I gave her my money, I said, “Here’s my card in case you ever need it.”

The cashier said thank you and put it on the register. The next person to get a card said, “I hate lawyers and stepped on it.” If I ran into him before the cashier, I don’t know if I would have done that again. Fortunately, I didn’t.

I gave them to every human I came in contact with. I even started taking taxis and buses instead of walking to give out more cards. Several taxi drivers called me months and even years later. They kept my business card on their sun visor.

Sometimes, someone would say, “I just had an accident,” or my mother just had an accident,” and I got a case. Sometimes, I got a call days, months, and even years later.

Google Business Listings

Google Business Listings, now called Google Business Profile listings, is free and is a great way to get cases.

Law Office Sign

I never had an office. In 1990, I started my personal injury law practice in my apartment. It was a great way to work. I had a large terrace with a BBQ. I often spoke to insurance claims reps while I was on my terrace, and I settled cases from my lounge chair.

My doorman was my receptionist. I gave him a nice tip at Christmas. However, you probably have an office where you pay rent.

Don’t waste your office rent. Chances are you don’t have an office with a large sign visible from the street, and you’re wasting your rent money.

If you have an office with a sign visible from the street, that’s great. Design a large sign like a billboard.

If you have an office in an office building, move immediately to a street-level office where you can have a large sign, like a billboard, visible from the street. It’s a free billboard that could cost as much as your rent.

Tip: A sign on your office is a free billboard, but do not pay to advertise on billboards! Unless you use direct response advertising such as TV, Radio, or Google Ads, do not spend money on billboards. See when you should not advertise on billboards.

1-800-HURT-911® office sign is used as a free billboard outside a store front

1-800-HURT-911® personal injury law office sign is used as a free billboard outside a store front

Don’t design an office sign like this! This lawyer must be in love with his name. The problem is that it won’t get anyone in the door. Instead of your law firm name, it should say PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS.

Since this lawyer has a vanity phone number, he should have put it on the large sign instead of hiding it on the right.

This photo shows how a law office sign with the name of a personal injury law office will not attract clients and should have been used as a billboard

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Attorney Rob Plevy

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Call Phil Franckel, Esq. Now!
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Marketing at Motorcycle Events

An inexpensive way to advertise for personal injury cases is marketing at motorcycle events for motorcycle accident cases.

Advertising is easy but costly. Marketing is inexpensive but costly in your time.

You can get extremely valuable motorcycle accident cases for only a few thousand dollars per year. Although inexpensive, you’ll spend some weekend days at motorcycle events. Find out how to do marketing for motorcycle accident cases.

Birthday Cards

Birthday cards are a great way to get personal injury referrals and clients.

I spoke with a lawyer with 16 offices in Ohio who told me he didn’t do any advertising other than sending birthday cards. He has an employee whose only job is to send handwritten birthday cards to their clients.

However, find out why you don’t need to hire someone to send handwritten birthday cards to your personal injury clients.

Google Ads

Google Ads can be less expensive than other advertising media for getting personal injury accident cases. You can spend as much as other advertising media, but you can also spend as little as $1,500 per month.

Because Google Ads are inexpensive and highly controllable, it should be the first place for lawyers to begin spending money on advertising.

Google Ads are complex, and a lawyer should not attempt to spend money on Google Ads without using a Google Ads manager.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Search Engine Optimization for a law firm website is a good option for personal injury lawyers but should only be part of a larger advertising campaign.

The problem with SEO is that it is expensive because it takes a lot of work from specialized people, and you’ll be competing with the largest law firms for the top 3-5 search results.

SEO takes the longest to work. Your website will need constant and continuous updating because Google changes its search algorithms 500 – 600 times per year.

Additionally, you’ll get leads from all over the country and from people looking for information who weren’t injured in an accident. Of course, you’ll also get good leads, and that’s why the big personal injury law firms spend so much money on SEO.

I’ve been doing SEO since 1996. I spent thousands of hours over many years working on our personal injury website and continue to work on our website all the time. We get several leads every day from our website. That’s how I know what you can expect from SEO. I can honestly say Google Ads is a better investment by far, very far.

Social Media

Social Media advertising and marketing can work well for some law practices, such as divorce or bankruptcy, if it is continued consistently over a long term.

However, social media should not be the first option for personal injury lawyers. This is because someone injured in an accident will need a lawyer immediately. Someone who needs a divorce or bankruptcy lawyer won’t suddenly wake up one morning and think it’s a good time to get divorced.

Social media can be a good option for personal injury lawyers but should be part of a larger advertising campaign.

Can Lawyers Borrow Money For Advertising?

Some lawsuit cash advance companies will loan money to lawyers against your outstanding personal injury case expenses. The money can be used for anything, but it should only be used for advertising.

Unknown to many personal injury lawyers is that some of the largest personal injury law firms got that big by borrowing against their case expenses and spending the money on advertising.

Where Else Can Lawyers Get Money for Advertising?

Find ways to reduce your overhead so you can increase your advertising budget.

Every dollar you spend that isn’t spent on advertising is lost revenue. You need to spend every dollar you can on advertising.

I started working out of my apartment and now work out of my house. I can write another article about how to work out from your house. If that’s not an option for you, there is one thing you can do to cut your overhead drastically.

I was able to manage a busy personal injury law practice without any secretaries or paralegals by using personal injury case management software and outsourcing some appearances, such as at some court appearances and using IME Watchdogs and Guards at defense physicals.

I also started using an Esign service to retain clients ten years before other lawyers started using them. That saved me hours every time I signed up a new client.

Now, I have a partner, and we use lead management software.

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You may also be interested in reading, How Can Lawyers Advertise When Lawyer Advertising Is So Competitive?

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Philip L. Franckel, Esq., is the author of this article.

Phil Franckel is the owner of 1-800-HURT-911® and over 1,100 domain names. He is a personal injury lawyer and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the NYS Trial Lawyers Association. He is an expert in branding, advertising, marketing, and SEO. He has been doing SEO since 1994.

Phil Franckel has written and produced TV commercials for lawyers and other industries and has been a consultant to businesses, including several using vanity phone numbers. Phil writes a blog about lawyer advertising at LawyerAdvertisingBlog.com.

Phil Franckel began a mail order business in 8th grade, bought and sold coin-operated amusement games in 10th grade, and a used car business in 12th grade through college. After law school, he worked in the wholesale diamond business and part-time for a TV production company. Later, while a lawyer at a large personal injury law firm, he worked part-time for ABC Wide World of Sports and ABC Monday Night Baseball.

Phil Franckel then started a personal injury law practice and is a former member of the Board of Directors of the NYS Trial Lawyers Association.

In his spare time, Phil Franckel became an Aux. Police Cadet in 12th grade and is the Commanding Officer of the Communications Bureau, NCPD Aux. Police Section.

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Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is a member of the Personal Injury Dream Team™; He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client's Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and is a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.