We’ve all driven by those billboards. Perhaps they have a smiling attorney in an expensive suit. Or a pair of handcuffs. Or maybe even the ever present judge’s gavel. Whatever image they offer, the message is generally simple:

Cheesy attorney billboard

So the question is, do these really work? And like most important questions, the answer isn’t just a simple “yes” or “no.” It’s actually quite a bit more nuanced.

All about billboards

Referred to in the industry as “outdoor advertising,” billboards can often evoke memories of an earlier era, pre-Internet. But just because they have been around for a while, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are ineffective. Let’s examine some of the pluses and minuses when it comes to billboard advertising for law firms.

Billboards are tacky

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Yes, this is certainly one legitimate point of view. After all, you rarely see financial professionals, physicians, or other experts in high-level service fields advertising in this matter. On the other hand, billboards for casinos, marijuana dispensaries, and other fringe businesses are commonplace.

Actually, a billboard can be quite cost-effective

Radio TV montage

Agencies that promote billboard advertising maintain that as opposed to other traditional methods of marketing such as TV or print newspapers, billboards remain in place, 24/7. Keep in mind, however, that the number of “eyeballs” that will encounter a billboard is highly dependent on the location. As you can imagine, a higher-profile site where the traffic is much greater will also engender a much higher cost.

Some marketing research provides data supporting an average cost of $1000 to gain a  client via billboard ads. However, other studies estimate a much higher return on investment, especially as compared to radio and television ads.

Is a billboard a match for your business?

Regardless of the final ROI, a billboard is a substantial investment. You will likely spend thousands — and potentially tens of thousands — of dollars per month, depending on size, location, etc.

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Because of that, billboards should generally only be employed by businesses that sell mass-market consumer products (like insurance or cars).

When it comes to individual attorneys and/or law firms, practices specializing in high-volume, high-return genres like personal injury or DUIs would be the best candidates for billboard advertising. This is supported by the fact that most legal services billboards you see do in fact involve those two areas, in addition to a few others, such as traffic tickets, and problems with the IRS.

Finally, will a billboard bring you new clients?

Leading market research firm Arbitron asserts that while billboards are effective at getting people to “think” about messages, they don’t necessarily directly lead to actions — including making phone calls or visiting websites.
But remember that it takes anywhere from 7 to 10 “touches” to encourage a potential client to take action. In that case, a billboard may be exactly what you need to keep your law firm top of mind, as long as it is used in conjunction with a well-designed website, SEO and/or PPC campaign, and other channels.

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