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Lawyers State the Obvious: Phone Book Ads Show Diminishing Returns

Despite the fact that I live in one of the "greenest" cities in the U.S., and the fact that I have not had a landline telephone since about 2002, I came home from a jaunt to my local Target this weekend to find, sitting on my porch, a bag o' phone books. I admit to not having investigated whether the city of Austin has an opt-out program for the books. My bad.

I also admit that, as of the time I left the house this morning, the bag was still sitting on the porch. They don't collect recycling until next week, so I figure it'll be there at least that long. If, in theory, I were to bring the bag inside and open it up, however, I would likely find a bunch of ads for lawyers in those yellow pages. Which, according to the Wisconsin Law Journal, might not be the case for too much longer.

According to the article, not only are fewer clients finding their way to attorney advertisers via the yellow pages, but the "caliber of client" that's responding to ads has declined too. The article has some concrete examples. Take the case of Samster, Konkel & Safran:

Personal injury lawyer Jerome A. Konkel (pictured, above right, with his firm's ads) said his firm, Samster, Konkel & Safran, invests more than $10,000 a month on phone book advertising. A two-page spread in the AT&T Yellow Pages alone runs the firm $6,000 each month, Konkel said.

“There was a time when you could justify the cost for the name recognition,” he said. “I’m not sure it has that panache anymore.”

The firm has seen a precipitous decline in both the quantity and quality of business generated by phone book ads.

While Konkel said the advertising still “makes the phone ring off the hook,” only about 10 percent of those calls translate into paying clients, often with atypical cases.

$10,000 a month? I know that in the world of contingency fees, one good case can make that seem like pocket change, but damn!

The article even notes that one firm lists separate phone numbers in its multiple phone book ads to enable better tracking of which ads generate legit clients.

Old habits die hard, indeed.

Posted by Eric Lipman on December 6, 2010 at 12:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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