Print Yellow Pages Remain Strong Advertising Choice for Attorneys

Contributed by: Natalie Wuchenich

Recently, a legal marketing firm issued a press release on the changing ways that people find lawyers. The release, citing an American Bar Association (ABA) public opinion poll, stated that the use of print Yellow Pages “as the primary way to find a lawyer for a personal legal matter appears to be waning.”

The marketing firm’s conclusion is misleading for several reasons.

  • The poll, which was conducted way back in September 2010, told us what we already know: that many people searching for a lawyer for a personal legal matter find one through friends and family or by contacting a lawyer they’ve used previously. But when it comes to those who find a lawyer through advertising, the poll showed that the same number of people who search for a lawyer via the print Yellow Pages search for one online. The report itself said there may be “some erosion” from anticipated use of print Yellow Pages compared to research that was conducted prior to the availability of the Internet, but the degree of shift to the web is difficult to assess. So while there’s no doubt the Internet is playing a bigger role in how lawyers are found, there is also minimal evidence to suggest that print Yellow Pages are losing their historical prominence as a place where consumers go to find lawyers.
  • The 2011 Local Media Tracking Study, conducted by the independent research firm Burke on behalf of the Local Search Association, found that print Yellow Pages generate an impressive 93.4 million look-ups annually for attorney services. The attorneys heading ranked 9th based on usage among the top 300 print Yellow Pages headings. This is a decline over previous years, but still a very strong and healthy standing.
  • Our Local Media Tracking Study also demonstrated the high value of print Yellow Pages look-ups for attorneys. Approximately 55% of consumers have a decision to make when searching print Yellow Pages for attorneys. This includes consumers who had no name in mind or had two or more names in mind before looking in the directory. Additionally, 63% of consumers contact an attorney they found in the print Yellow Pages, while 68% of consumers using directories make a purchase of attorney’s services or intend to make a purchase. Furthermore, 70% of purchasers secured through print Yellow Pages are new customers for the attorney they contact.
  • Print Yellow Pages deliver an unduplicated audience because they have low duplication with other media, according to the 2011 Intermedia Shopping Study conducted by TNS. For example, when print Yellow Pages is used in combination with online services advertising, it extends the reach to purchasers by 58%.
  • Finally, a review of 26 display ad call tracking studies conducted for 10 national advertisers showed print Yellow Pages deliver strong value to attorney advertisers. Average return on investment is 7 to 1, and median return on investment is 4 to 1, according to Local Search Association data.

While our industry recognizes that general use of print Yellow Pages is declining, that does not mean that legal related ads are no longer an effective marketing tool. The data above speaks for itself: that an integrated advertising approach that leverages directories in addition to newer platforms like the web will garner the best results for lawyers looking for new customers.