Marketing vs. Advertising: Weighing the Benefits

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Published On Jan 28, 2015

businessstrategyWhat’s worth more to your small firm, marketing or advertising? While there’s some overlap in their goals and techniques, the two terms are hardly synonymous, of course. For the purpose of this discussion, let’s separate them entirely and say that marketing is the art of getting people to know you while advertising is the art of getting people to hire you.

In large part, the answer depends on what kind of practice you have and who you’re trying to reach. If your clients tend to be business or governmental entities, advertising will probably not garner the effect you’re after – those types of clients tend to want to hear about you, not from you. The long sell of an effective marketing campaign can lead to a long attorney-client relationship.

But if you’re in family law, personal injury, bankruptcy, criminal defense, workers’ compensation – any practice area that tends to attract individual, one-time clients – direct outreach is the way to go. And that doesn’t necessarily have to take the form of a paid print or TV ad, although those can be very effective. Billboards and radio are holding their own as digital marketing continues to make gains.

Clicks vs. Likes
As it has in many ways, the prevalence of social media changes this conversation, too. To put it in more contemporary terms, what’s worth more, a click or a like? Research from SocialCode indicates that Facebook users 50 and older are far more likely to click through to an online ad than younger folks – and women are more likely to click through than men.

According to SocialCode’s Laura O’Shaughnessy, “Older users are very likely to interact with ads on Facebook, but they are inclined to click through and learn more about the offer before clicking the Like button.”

Younger users are more likely to “like” – so what does that mean for you? While they’re less financially tangible than someone contacting you in response to an ad, likes (or favorites and retweets on Twitter) do have value. They indicate that people are responding positively to your social media presence, which is one of the easiest and most inexpensive means of marketing out there today.

O’Shaughnessy also points out that advertising is worth more when it can be used to initiate action: “On a campaign promoting new products or events, clicks would be more valuable because they are driving the action that is valuable to the brand.”

Dan Heilman+ is a veteran writer and editor with more than 30 years' experience covering a wide range of topics. He's written about law and legal practice issues for numerous publications over the past decade. He has a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and lives in St. Paul, Minn.

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Dan Heilman

About Dan Heilman

Dan Heilman+ is a veteran writer and editor with more than 30 years' experience covering a wide range of topics. He's written about law and legal practice issues for numerous publications over the past decade. He has a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and lives in St. Paul, Minn.

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