Having a successful advertising strategy is vital for most law firms. How law firms spend their advertising dollars can go a long way toward the success or failure of a law firm.

But one crucial distinction law firms need to understand is the difference between branding and lead generation in law firm advertising. Unfortunately, many law firms confuse the two or are unfamiliar with the terms.

What is Lead Generation in Law Firm Advertising?

Lead generation is advertising that directly results in potential clients reaching out to the law firm about legal services. Lead generation is typically intricate and advanced today. Regarding online advertising, lead generation can be based on analytics, conversation tracking, or look-a-like campaigns. As part of lead generation, the ads generally invite potential clients to call or email the law firm. In addition, the ads might target communities based on demographics, zip codes, income, or advanced metrics.

There are all kinds of lead generation opportunities for law firms. For example, it might involve paid Google AdWords, Microsoft Ads, or Facebook Ads. That said, when we talk about lead generation online, it involves specific ads where the legal consumers can fill out a form, email, text, or call the law firm itself. It could involve paying to be in legal directories where consumers search for lawyers, like FindLaw, AVVO, Lawyers.com, SuperLawyers, etc. Before online advertising, one may argue that the phone book was a form of lead generation.

Many marketing companies out there will sell leads to law firms that they have gathered for the law firm. There are more examples of companies offering leads to law firms daily. At the same time, sophisticated law firms that understand how to track metrics and conversions can often do this themselves.

What is Branding in Law Firm Advertising?

Branding, on the other hand, is very different from lead generation. With advertising based on branding, a law firm might put up billboards in their locality. It might be that the law firm runs television or radio ads.

Branding might involve sponsoring sports teams or charitable events. Branding could also be magazine or newspaper advertisements run by those not necessarily looking for legal services.

With online advertising, a law firm can also brand itself when they run online advertising that does not directly give the legal consumer the ability to contact the law firm or if the ads are not targets based on advanced metrics. A typical example would be display advertising (aka online billboards) to those not looking for legal services.

When Should A Law Firm Brand or Promote Lead Generation?

Many law firms focus their advertising on branding. Branding can get the name of the law firm out there. With law firms with deep pockets, branding can be effective over the long term. It can cause a law firm’s name to be commonly known within the legal community. Think of the big personal injury law firms in a particular locality that everybody knows. But branding may not result in many clients in the short term.

Further, branding can be expensive. Many law firms do not have deep enough pockets to make their law firm commonly known, especially in a large city. Further, many law firms need clients right now. They might not have the money to wait for branding to work over months or years. Lead generation can be a much better way for these law firms. When well done, lead generation can also be less expensive because it is targeted. It can also result in potential clients reaching out today.

The above is a quick summary of the difference between branding and lead generation. Obviously, in some ways, the lines can be blurred. Some advertising might have a dual impact in some way. But broadly speaking, a law firm must understand the difference between branding and legal generation and select the best strategy for its goals. If a law firm does not understand the difference, it might be disappointed by the results.