Marketing vs. Advertising for Lawyers: What’s the Difference?

There are different definitions of advertising and marketing. For lawyers, it makes a big difference. Obviously, both advertising and marketing share the same goal — to get more clients for your law firm.

Advertising is really a subset of marketing, or maybe it’s the other way around! I look at advertising and marketing as two different methods of getting the message out.

The important distinction for lawyers when considering advertising, marketing, or both is time and expense. Each has advantages and disadvantages, but since lawyers have little time, the difference is important.

Advertising vs. Marketing — Advantages and Disadvantages

Advertising Pros and Cons


  1. Advertising is easy and requires very little time, which lawyers usually don’t have. All you have to do is hire an advertising agency.
  2. Advertising typically yields immediate results.
  3. Advertising typically yields more results.

Disadvantage: Advertising is more expensive.

Predominant Types of Advertising Media: TV, radio, billboards, Google Ads and other online PPC, newspapers, magazines, direct mail, online “Yellow Pages,” traditional print Yellow Pages, and your law firm website.

How to begin advertising: Hire an advertising agency and decide on a budget for your TV, radio, or Google Ads campaign.

Tip: To make a TV or radio advertising campaign more effective, lawyers should use billboards.

Tip: If you start with Google Ads, use an agency that just does Google Ads.

Tip: Plan ahead before you start advertising and decide how to answer calls and do case intake.

TV commercials

Billboards like this one make TV and radio commercials work better because billboards substantially increase branding.
billboard car accident HURT911

Magazine advertising works well when targeting niche groups. We advertise a niche
website,, in a motorcycle magazine.Magazine advertising personal injury lawyer

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Marketing Pros and Cons

Advantage: A marketing campaign can cost very little money and costs a lot less than advertising.


  1. Marketing requires the lawyer to spend much more time.
  2. Marketing typically takes longer to yield results.
  3. Marketing typically yields fewer results.

Predominant Types of Marketing Media: Attorney business cards, holiday & birthday cards, events & giveaways, email campaigns, and social media.

Examples: A marketing campaign can consist of as little as giving out business cards to much more. I started my law practice by just giving out business cards with 1-800-HURT-911. For a few years, my partner and I set up a tent at motorcycle events where we met with people and gave out T-shirts and many other giveaways. It involved a lot of our time but only cost a few thousand dollars per year. In exchange for a T-shirt, we captured the name, address, and date of birth to send greeting cards in the US mail using an automatic system. We also advertise in a motorcycle magazine. We stopped doing events because of the time involved, and we now just use Google Ads.

How to begin marketing: If you want to do events, it’s best to be there, but you can hire someone to help you or to do the event without you.

Birthday and greeting cards are very effective. You can have someone in your office easily send birthday and holiday cards using an automatic campaign like an email campaign.

If you license 1-800-HURT-911 for your law office, you can use 1-800-HURT-911 greeting cards. But even if you don’t license 1-800-HURT-911, you can use your own card design. If you want to use your own card design using an automatic campaign, just contact Phil Franckel.

1-800-HURT-911® tent with lawyer advertising at a motorcycle event where we give out T-shirts and other giveaways
HURT911 Tent Canopy

Several motorcyclists at the event are holding our yellow bags with giveaways

Two Types of Advertising for Lawyers

There are two types of advertising and a hybrid of both. Branding, Direct Response Advertising, and a mix of the two create a hybrid.


Q. How is branding achieved by lawyers?
A. Branding is accomplished by frequent and continuous advertising and/or marketing to brand your law firm’s name in the minds of potential clients. Everything you do should always promote your brand.

Q. What does branding do for lawyers?
A. Branding makes it more likely that a potential client will want to call you instead of your competitor. Once branding begins to take effect, a lawyer will have an “unfair” advantage over attorneys without a brand.

Q. What is the most effective method of branding a lawyer?
A. Billboards are the most effective method to promote your brand.

Q. What is the disadvantage of branding?
A. None. Branding can cost more money but doesn’t have to.

Know What Branding Will Do for Your Law Firm

Branding typically doesn’t make your phone ring. It doesn’t immediately generate business but generates business in the long run by improving results from advertising media. It typically takes two years to see results from branding.

To demonstrate, consider a personal injury lawyer advertising on billboards. Billboards will create recognition of the lawyer and bring “top of mind” to potential clients.

Not many people will call the lawyer because they remember seeing the lawyer’s billboard. But people who are injured will be more likely to call when seeing the lawyer’s TV commercial if they have previously seen the lawyer on billboards.

Can You Brand a Law Firm Name?

Most attorneys and larger law firms don’t have a name that is brandable. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is not brandable, so they brand the name “Skadden.”

Donald Drumpf created an empire when he rebranded his name as TRUMP. A good choice since it’s short, memorable, impactful, and implies power. TRUMP was branded like a trump card which ranks above other cards and is a valuable resource that one can use to gain an advantage.

The more brandable a name is, the less money it will take to brand the name and the less time it will take.

A more brandable name is both easier to trademark and is a more powerful trademark. The 1-800-LAWYERS® trademark includes 1-800 because LAWYERS is a generic word and cannot be trademarked. HURT911® is a much more powerful trademark because it does not include 1-800 because HURT911 is not a generic word.

Direct Response Advertising

Q. What is Direct Response Advertising?
Direct Response Advertising is an advertisement using a call to action to elicit a direct response to the advertising message. An example is a late-night TV commercial asking people to call a numeric phone number within the next 5 minutes to order something.

Q. What is the disadvantage of Direct Response Advertising?
Direct Response Advertising is short-lived. There is no benefit after the first 5 minutes of seeing a TV or radio commercial which doesn’t have any branding.

Direct Response/Brand Advertising Hybrid

Q. What is Branded Direct Response Advertising?
This type of advertising combines branding with direct response advertising. It is this type of advertising that most lawyers use.

This is usually a TV or radio commercial asking clients to call the lawyer’s phone number or sometimes go to the lawyer’s website but includes some branding of the lawyer or law firm.

With lawyers, the branding usually consists of an attempt to:

  • Brand the law firm name like Jacoby & Meyers;
  • Brand the firm as “The Hammer” or a similar slogan; or
  • Brand a 1-800 vanity phone number.

1-800-HURT-911® TV commercials are a combination of branding and direct response advertising.

Q. What does Direct Response Advertising with branding do for lawyers?
Hybrid advertising provides an immediate benefit with calls received within 15 minutes after airing the TV or radio commercial but provides the added benefit of branding so viewers may recognize it and will be more likely to call when they see it again.

Some lawyers advertise on TV for a few months, stop for a few months, and continue this cycle. This is a bad idea because you prevent branding from building up and lose any branding benefits from the previous cycle.

Differences by Types of Media


Advertising involves media such as TV, radio, billboards, newspapers, magazines, direct mail, online “Yellow Pages,” & your law firm’s website.

Most advertising campaigns use a combination of media to reach the widest audience possible. For instance, billboards are often combined with a TV advertising campaign. This is much more effective than advertising on only one form of media because branding is increased by the use of multiple types of media.

Billboards are a true branding media and are not effective when used alone for direct response advertising without a vanity phone number. However, billboards will provide a good ROI by substantially increasing increase the effectiveness of direct response media. Billboards will brand whatever you put on them.

Large law firms usually spend their advertising budget on all of these types of advertising media.


Marketing involves the use of  Attorney business cards, holiday & birthday cards, events & giveaways, and social media.

Again, marketing should involve a combination of all of these types of marketing media.

Read Some of Our Other Informative Articles

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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

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.