Kevin O’Keefe says that online advertising by law firms suck, if you extrapolate from a Nielsen Research study that compares the different advertising channels. To no surprise, word of mouth was the most effective form of advertising. I vet a lot of my purchasing decisions through Consumer Reports, as well as Amazon. As for newspaper, television, magazine or Internet ads, I don’t know that I trust one of them over the other. I really question the 63% of people that trust print newspaper ads since fewer than 63% even read a newspaper in an average week. How can you even trust something you don’t read? For newspaper ads, I doubt if reader trust flows uniformly to all advertisers with the Macy’s ad being not untrustworthy, the cell phone ad with an inch of disclaimers being possibly untrustworthy, and the classifieds offering work-at-home opportunities and real estate riches garnering the greatest skepticism. Television ads work the same way with Nike, Disney and Apple ads on the positive end of the spectrum and pharmaceutical, exercise equipment, and spray-on hair ads at the opposite end.
As I see it, one form of advertising isn’t necessarily better than another. Instead, the companies and brands that succeed are the ones that constantly build trust and customer loyalty, which in turn generates that valued word of mouth recommendation. How can law firms build trust? Law firms can build trust and their online reputations through a law firm blog. However, like advertising, which can be good or bad, blogs can swing both ways as well. Know that you are writing for a sophisticated audience that can rapidly differentiate between genuine insight and marketing copy. Also, understand that while some bloggers may praise your blog posts, others may target them for criticism, whether warranted or not, and how you react to praise as well as criticism can amplify or destroy your trustworthiness.