What’s wrong with this attorney’s newspaper ad?


An attorney’s newspaper ad just appeared in our local paper. Take a look and tell me what you think.

Here’s the ad:

Law Offices of

7 lines of information about the attorney’s (30 years) civil and criminal trial experience and his recent move to our area.

“For more information regarding the law in your specific case, please contact my office for a free consultation by phone or at my office.”

Law Offices of

The ad includes the attorney’s head shot.

So, what do you think? What’s good? What’s bad? What’s missing?

Let’s start with the good.

He does present an OFFER (Free Consultation) and a CALL TO ACTION (“Call my office”).

That’s good.

He could improve his offer by telling the reader the benefits of the consultation (i.e., “Find out your rights and options, so you know what to do. . . get all your questions answered,” and so on). He should also let them know that there is no cost (yes, even though it is a “Free Consultation,” tell them again) and no obligation.

He could improve the call to action by writing his phone number BIG AND BOLD in the same sentence. “Call my office at [phone]. . .”. Even though it is spelled out below in his contact information. Don’t make people look for it.

He mentions his experience and that’s good. Including his photo is also good for this type of ad.

Now, what about the bad.

There are two things missing from this ad and they are big. Really big.

First, the headline. Or rather, the lack thereof.

You can’t use your name for a headline. Well, you can, but it’s a mistake. Why? Because unless you are famous and your name is something that people will recognize and be drawn to, your ad isn’t going to catch anyone’s attention.

Nobody cares about you. They’re busy and have their own problems and lives to lead. They’re not going to notice your ad.

Okay, some people will notice it. The ones who read the paper cover to cover every week will probably glimpse at the ad because it’s new. But most people won’t. More importantly, most of the people who need a lawyer won’t. And if they don’t notice the ad, they won’t read it and if they don’t read it, they’re not going to call.

What should be in the headline? Well, the attorney does civil and criminal litigation, so how about something that speaks to people who have been sued or arrested and don’t know what to do.

Like this:

Sued? Arrested? Find out your legal rights and options–FREE!

Okay, not brilliant, but can you see how this identifies the people this attorney is targeting? And promises a benefit?

If you’ve been sued or arrested and you’re turning pages in this newspaper, a headline like this is going to flag you down. It says, “Hey, you there with the big hairy legal problem, here’s something good for you.”

Because your lawsuit or arrest is very much on your mind right now, you stop turning pages and look at the ad.

The headline did it’s job. It got your attention and promised a benefit. So now you read the first line of the body copy. If that grabs you and promises a benefit, you keep reading. Then you see the offer for a free consultation and you might call.

Without a headline, it doesn’t matter how compelling the body copy or how great the offer because nobody will see them because they never stopped to read the ad.

Your ad is only as good as your headline.

Okay, what else is missing? Take another look and see if you can spot it.

Of course. No website.

Not having a website is unacceptable today. Guaranteed disqualification in the eyes of many prospective clients. Why? Because all they have to go on is a few self-serving words in an ad. No proof. No details. No reason to trust.

There’s no helpful information that might begin to answer their questions. The only way to get more information is to call.

If you are the only attorney in town, they would have no choice. But you’re not. A quick visit to Uncle Google or Auntie Bing reveals that there are hundreds of attorneys who do what you do, right here in my area code. And they have websites. I can go read all about my problem and their solutions, and find out things I want to know before I call.

So, prospects see your ad without a website and either (a) cross you off the list because you are a dinosaur, or (b) go online to search your name and, finding nothing, cross you off the list.

In other words, the only ones who might call are fellow dinosaurs, a species that is quickly dying out.

Actually, there are two additional clues in the ad that this attorney is living in a different century. They are both in his contact info.

The first is the word “Facsimile”. Go ask your 25 year old neighbor if he even knows what that word means.

The second is the attorney’s email address, which I didn’t include. It’s hisnamelaw@netscape.net. Yes, Netscape. Didn’t they help Al Gore start the Internet?

Obviously, the attorney doesn’t realize how antiquated this makes him look. Somebody should send him a telegram and let him know.

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