Should Lawyers Use Billboards for Personal Injury Advertising?
Yes, but only if your law firm is also advertising on TV, radio, or Google Ads. Billboards are not just great for your ego. Billboards are probably the most effective tool for branding.
When Did Lawyers First Use Billboards for Advertising?
Billboards were used for lawyer advertising soon after the U.S. Supreme Court held in the landmark case Bates v. State Bar of Arizona that attorney advertising is commercial speech protected by the First Amendment.
Are Billboards Effective for Lawyer Advertising?
Billboards do little to nothing for direct response advertising which is the type of advertising personal injury lawyers need. But branding on personal injury lawyer billboards will increase the effectiveness of all types of direct response advertising media, including online PPC like Google Ads.
Direct response advertising is advertising designed to generate an immediate response, as when someone responds to your advertising by calling you.
Using a 1-800 vanity phone number on billboards for personal injury advertising will substantially improve the conversion rate because law firm names are nearly impossible to brand.
If you’re a lawyer advertising on billboards without a 1-800 vanity phone number or at least a memorable domain name, you’re wasting your money. No one can remember a numeric number they see on a billboard.
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Should Personal Injury Lawyers Advertise Only on Billboards?
No. Law firms should never advertise only on billboards.
Can a law firm ever advertise only on billboards? Billboards advertising a personal injury lawyer are only worthwhile without direct response advertising when you have a 1-800 vanity phone number because people only remember the most prominent word or image on the billboard.
But even with a 1-800 vanity phone number, I don’t recommend advertising on billboards without some direct response advertising.
Your direct-response advertising should be tied to your branding on billboards. Google Ads is inexpensive and works great on its own. But you can greatly increase ROI by adding billboards if you use the same branding on the billboards as in your Google Ads title.
What Type of Advertising Are Billboards Effective For?
Billboards are used for branding. Whatever you put on a billboard will be branded.
Billboards are not for direct response advertising. But billboards will substantially increase the effectiveness of direct response advertising.
Personal Injury lawyers use direct response advertising. Lawyers should use the power of branding on billboards to increase awareness of direct response advertising media such as TV, radio, and the internet.
Using different types of media at the same time is called cross-branding. Read more about branding and advertising for personal injury lawyers.
Benefits of Billboards
- Can’t be ignored by the viewer.
- Static image that stays in the viewer’s mind.
- Continuous exposure to drivers traveling the same route twice a day every day.
- Makes a huge impact and creates substantial branding.
- Substantially increases the effectiveness and response rate of direct response advertising such as TV, radio, and Google Ads.
How Billboards Benefit Online PPC Advertising
- Billboards dramatically increase conversions from Google Ads by creating brand awareness and trust. According to InstantShift, brand trust matters to mobile users.
- Increased conversions due to brand awareness.
- Increases your Google Quality Score, which provides better positioning and decreases the price per click.
- Billboards improve the position of your law firm website in Google SERPs (Organic results in Search Engine Results Pages) by increasing the number of inbound links to your website.
This excerpt of a call shows how billboards attracted a salesperson representing several TV stations. This type of attention increases the number of websites interested in linking to your law firm’s website. It also shows how brand awareness is increased.
Cons or Disadvantages of Billboards
- Not suitable for direct response advertising for lawyers, so billboards must be used simultaneously with other advertising media such as TV or radio.
- Requires a long-term commitment, but really any advertising does.
- Weather conditions can degrade your billboard. Static billboards are usually made from PVC or PE (polyethylene). PVC is less expensive and lasts longer, while PE is more environmentally friendly.
- Not easily changed.
- Less information than other advertising. Information on billboards must be conveyed in less than 7 words and understood in only 5 seconds.
Why Are Billboards Not Effective for Lawyer Advertising?
If billboards are not working for your law practice, it’s most likely due to one or more of the following reasons:
- You’re only advertising on billboards and not advertising on other media like TV or radio.
- The design of your billboards is not good.
- You are branding your face and not much else.
- You are advertising a non-vanity numeric phone number, not a vanity phone number.
- You have a poor message.
- Your branding doesn’t match your other advertising media.
How Long Does a Driver Have to Read a Billboard?
The average viewing time is only 5 seconds, and less than 7 words are recommended for the title, according to Clear Channel. Other sources indicate viewing time is only 3-6 seconds, and no more than 6 words are recommended (see 10 Steps To Making a Great Billboard Ad and Outdoor Advertising Design Tips with some great design tools).
1-800-HURT-911 gets your message across in 1 second. Look at the billboards below and ask yourself which billboards you would spend your money on.
This lawyer billboard was rather effective for direct response advertising, and the injured viewer had plenty of time to read it!
Top 8 Billboard Design Tips for Lawyers
- Hire an ad designer to professionally design your billboard.
- Limit text to 7 words or less.
- If you want people to contact you, use a vanity phone number. Vanity phone numbers are better than website addresses because it’s one less step to contact you and are more easily branded.
- The text should be a catchy wordplay and relate to your vanity phone number, ie.
ACCIDENT? It’s a 911 call!
- The text font should be large, simple, and stand out. Color and contrast are crucial.
- Avoid images unless it’s the main message. Images will draw attention away from your message. If you use an image, it should be simple and easily identified within 3 seconds.
- Do not include photos of people (unless you want a seat at the best table in a restaurant). Photos of people will draw attention away from your message.
- Test how your ad looks from a distance. Print it on a poster at Costco and hang it on the wall; Walk past it from a distance and see if you can get the message within 3 seconds. Ask friends to walk past it and see if they get the message.
Want to design the perfect billboard? Read The Perfect Ad in Psychology Today about the observations of a motorist.
Top 5 Billboard Advertising Tips for Lawyers
- Billboards should be a long-term commitment. No advertising should be tried out for a month or two, but this is especially true with billboards.
- Don’t use billboards unless you also have other advertising. The purpose of billboards for lawyers is to increase your response from direct response advertising. Billboards should not be the sole form of advertising for lawyers.
- Negotiate the lowest cost by offering a 12 or 24-month commitment.
- After negotiating the lowest cost possible, negotiate to get more billboards for the same amount of money. Outdoor billboard companies will usually throw in a number of smaller billboards called posters.
Bonus Tip — How To Get More Billboard Views For Free
To get thousands of extra views, add a photo of your billboard to Google Maps for the business at the billboard’s location. Make sure the business is also visible in the photo. When people search the business and look at photos, they will see it appear like the screenshot below.
This photo of our tent where we gave out free T-shirts was uploaded on Google Maps and got 81,941 free views in one year!
Here, a 1-800-HURT-911® T-shirt is an online billboard. It got 66 views in the first three hours after uploading.
Even your license plate can be an online billboard. I took a photo when my car was at the shop and uploaded it to Google Maps. My HURT 911 license plate and car sign saying BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE® and 1-800-HURT-911® were seen 44,184 times in two years. This screenshot of Google Maps shows how Google has my photo as the second photo under the shop’s photo.
How Much Do Billboards Cost?
“Physical billboard costs average $250 per month in rural areas, $1,500-$4,000 in small to midsize cities, and $14,000 and up in larger markets,” according to Brian Czahor, CEO at BC Media & Associates, Inc.
For an explanation of how billboards are priced, see Brian’s article, How Much Does a Billboard Cost? 2019 Billboard Pricing & Advertising Tips
How Much Do Digital Billboards Cost?
Electronic digital billboards are more expensive than static billboards. An article at Wiresping, a software and hosting company for digital signage, states, “The average CPM (cost per thousand) for a regular billboard is $2.05 and $37.42 for an LED billboard.
UPSHOW.tv says, “The average cost of a digital billboard advertisement varies from $1,200 to $15,000 per month,” while static billboards cost from $250 per month in rural areas to between $4,000 and $10,000 per month in populated areas.
To calculate the cost of installing and operating a digital billboard, use the LED Billboard cost estimator calculator at Wiresping.
For personal injury advertising, I prefer physical billboards over digital billboards.
Static vs. Digital Billboards
In an extensive study of possible driver distraction from digital billboards or electronic billboards, the Federal Highway Administration found mixed results with digital billboards vs. static billboards when looking at drivers “gazing” at the boards.
It appears that drivers were more likely to gaze at digital Billboards on local roads while gazing longer at static billboards on freeways.
Electronic billboards are obviously more easily seen at night.
Billboard Examples for Personal Injury Lawyers – a Message Remembered After 1-Second Glance!
What Sizes Are Billboards?
The most common size billboards used by personal injury lawyers are called Bulletins and Posters.
The most common size billboards people are familiar with are Bulletins which are usually seen on highways.
There is a super size called “Spectaculars,” which is usually seen in areas like Times Square, NY, and Las Vegas.
- 14′ H x 48′ W
- 10′ H x 40′ W
- 10′ 6″ H x 36′ W
- Extensions can be added so it is sticking out of the top or side of a Bulletin which makes it look like a cut-out.
- 12′ 3″ H x 24′, 6″ W
- 10′ 5″ H x 22′, 8″ W
OUTFRONT Media announced it rolled out a bus domination campaign for 1-800-HURT-911 throughout the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) transit system.
“As the only campaign on the front of every bus in the MARTA fleet, 1-800-HURT-911 will have exclusive access to the most outdoor transit displays in Atlanta.”
1-800-HURT-911 is on the front of 400 buses in Atlanta with advertising rights to the front of MARTA buses for two years. See the OUTFRONT Media Press Release
Bus Billboards Are Seen Everywhere in the News on TV & Internet
Watch the Fox News video
Here, a 1-800-HURT-911 bus billboard is seen on change.org
1-800-HURT-911 and a competitor’s bus billboard are seen in this article about bus expansion. This is an example of why competition is good. No one company can ever get all the business, but the top two or three will get most of it. That’s why Coca-Cola and Pepsi need each other. Don’t get left out!
Urgent Care Advertising
Inexpensive Lawyer Billboard Advertising
- Gas Station Pumps
- Car Wraps
- Bike Billboards
- Scooter Billboards
- Truck Billboards.
Gas Station Pumps
New! This is an incredibly effective and cost-effective way of increasing branding when people are looking at your sign on the gas station pump for several minutes!
Read more about this incredible opportunity with gas station signs
Car Wraps Are the Most Cost-Effective Billboards
Unconventional Lawyer Billboard Advertising
Advertising your law firm on race cars is not a cost-effective method of branding a personal injury lawyer but if you like to go to the races and want to see your law firm on a car, just do it.
1-800-HURT-911 Branding on a Race Car
Free Billboards for Lawyers
The best billboard a personal injury lawyer can get is a free billboard. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to get a free billboard.
Just buy or rent a building in a high visibility area where you can put up a large sign on the side of the building or on the roof.
Another way to get a free billboard is to buy or rent a retail storefront on which you can have a large noticeable sign.
Least expensive? We rent a desk with the right to put our 1-800-HURT-911 sign in front, and we pay the office manager to help us when new clients walk in.
Lawyer Billboard Examples No One Will Remember
Can you remember this lawyer’s phone number in the time it takes to pass his billboard in 5 seconds at 65 mph? All I remember is a red face and a dark suit. One call, but what’s the number? One call, but how do I call him?
Compare this! and don’t hire me from my billboard! This billboard is unreadable.
All I see and remember is CAR ACCIDENT We Care because it’s the only thing that stands out on this personal injury lawyer billboard. The image is distracting and adds nothing to the message. No one will notice or remember their name and certainly not their phone number. Do you care?
Why Are There So Many Billboard Ads for Personal Injury Lawyers?
Reasons you see so many billboard ads for personal injury lawyers:
- A lot of money is involved in personal injury law so that lawyers can afford billboard advertising.
- Billboards are highly effective in branding for personal injury advertising.
- Billboards are cost-effective when used properly.
- Personal injury lawyers like seeing their names on billboards.
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 on 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 owners of vanity phone numbers. Phil has a blog about lawyer advertising at LawyerAdvertisingBlog.com. Phil Franckel began his first business in 8th grade, owned businesses in various different industries, and worked freelance for ABC Wide World of Sports and Monday Night Baseball. In his spare time, Phil Franckel is the Commanding Officer of the Communications Bureau of the NCPD Aux. Police Section.