Just when I had all but given up on lawyers’ advertising, along comes one attorney who really knows how to get it right.
As a former attorney –turned freelance copywriter, I have always paid special attention to how law firms market themselves. And, with very few exceptions, how badly they do so.
But yesterday, when I opened up a copy of the Fort Worth Business Press, an insert fell out that caught my eye. It was a 5 ½ x 8 ½ postcard written by Clark R. Cowley, who practices intellectual property law for the law firm of Whitaker, Chalk, Swindler & Sawyer, L.L.P. (Whitaker Chalk) in Fort Worth, Texas.
What is so refreshingly unique about Mr. Cowley’s postcard/insert, is that instead of it making a list of claims to be the best, biggest or most experienced (which is what most law firm advertisements do) he actually demonstrates his expertise and knowledge by providing the reader with free information.
The back of the card is sort of a mini-white paper on the topic of legal remedies to Cybersquatting. “Cybersquatting” is the bad faith registration of Internet domain names identical or confusingly similar to another company’s trademark or business name. According to Cowley, “the cybersquatter’s motive is often to hold the domain name hostage in hopes of selling it to the rightful party, or to post unflattering, obscene or scandalous material on that site to diminish the rightful party’s business reputation.”
Cowley then briefly lists four legislative acts or regulations under which the party can seek a legal remedy.
The whole card is brief, demonstrates Mr. Cowley's knowledge and expertise, conveys an image of professionalism, is completely free of puffery, and leaves the reader wanting to learn more.
And what is even more encouraging is this card is one of a series that Whitaker Chalk puts out called “brief legal seminars.”
In a recent article called Freelance Copywriter Secrets: Can White Papers and Image Ads Get Along?, I wrote about how deplorable typical law firm advertising is.
On one hand, you have the ads from personal injury lawyers who want to help you get more money from an insurance company if you’ve been injured in an accident (here in Texas, we have one guy who calls himself the “The Texas Hammer,” need I say more?). On the other extreme, are the ads from firms who are so concerned about maintaining a highly professional image, that their ads literally say nothing at all.
If the other “Brief Legal Seminars” are as well crafted as this one is, I think we can assume Whitaker Chalk is on the right track.
Could this ad be improved? Yes, I would first urge this firm to write a series of full white papers on these same topics, and offer them free to any legitimate inquirer.
In this way, they have a second opportunity to demonstrate their expertise. But even more important, they can build up an opt-in list of people and companies who are interested in these topics.
White papers give a strong boost to any business’ image of professionalism, knowledge and expertise. But they are more than learned discourses on a certain subject. They are also powerful marketing pieces that give the reader compelling reasons to do business with the author.
Michael Stelzner, in his book, Writing White Papers, calls white papers a cross between a magazine article, with its ability to make a technical issue understandable to the non-professional; and a brochure, with a convincing sales message.
Unfortunately, Whitaker Chalk has missed their opportunity to compile a list of opt-in subscribers who want more information. Creating such a list would become enormously valuable as a source of new, qualified clients. As Seth Godin, in his book Permission Marketing points out, these are people who have “raised their hand” to indicate they want to receive this sort of information. An opt-in list also builds loyalty among the subscribers even before they become clients.
But all in all, I would have to rate this little card from Whitaker Chalk as one of the best law firm advertisements I have seen in a very long, long time.
P.S. To any law firms needing someone to write compelling white papers: There are very few copywriters who also have a background as an attorney. If you need a writer who brings both fields of expertise to the table, please call me today at the contact information listed above. Charles Brown
freelance copywriter, white paper writer, writing web content, copywriting tips