Just like in any industry, marketing for law firms is a colorful arabesque that draws from all sorts of different approaches and philosophies. Since we spend a lot of time browsing attorney websites for competitor analyses and just plain everyday research, we’ve seen a pretty broad sampling of the possibilities for legal marketing and branding — from tasteful to tacky, head-turning to head-scratching, and everything in-between.
At some point, we decided that some of the most memorable and out-there marketing efforts we’ve seen needed to be preserved for posterity. To that end, we submit for your entertainment a few of the funniest and most unusual law firm marketing tactics we’ve encountered.
Tactic #1: Very Questionable Videos
Anyone who’s stayed up too late watching junk TV has seen a cheesy, tasteless, and/or bizarre law firm ad or two. As you might expect, access to YouTube and the proliferation of cheap video hasn’t exactly reined in the weirdness. Video-sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo are chock full of awesomely bad lawyer videos — some deliberately corny and some not.
The holy grail of these videos might be this gem from attorney Steve Miller of DivorceEZ (now rebranded as FloridaDivorceMe.com). In the video, which consists of one long “lawyer-in-front-of-the-bookcase” shot, Mr. Miller launches into a for-the-ages tirade that begins with, “If you and your spouse hate each other like poison and want to get out of the hellhole you call a marriage…” From there, he proceeds to fire away at the “piece of crap three-piece suit[s]” that handle most divorce cases and the “illiterate boob[s]” at the courthouse before topping off with a promise to help you get rid of “that vermin you call a spouse.” Yikes.
To be fair, this video was released in 2008, so it’s nearly a decade old, and it’s no longer featured in the lineup of videos on FloridaDivorceMe.com. Lest you think Mr. Miller and his marketing partners learned anything, though, we submit the following more recent marketing video from his site, which features… an unedited five-minute recording from the middle of a random child custody hearing. I’m not sure what this is supposed to demonstrate besides the fact that Mr. Miller is in fact an attorney and has appeared in court, but if you enjoy long silences, people shuffling papers, and lots of throat-clearing, this video might be up your alley.
Of course, there’s always the “any publicity is good publicity” philosophy that leads to deliberately outrageous lawyer ads. Our nominee for the current king of that school of marketing is Texas attorney Bryan Wilson, a.k.a. the Texas Law Hawk, who’s gotten plenty of attention for his way, waaay over-the-top YouTube videos. We can debate whether acting like a stimulant-addled lunatic on camera is a good legal branding strategy, but what’s not up for debate is that the sample video below features explosions, eagle screams, and four grown men playing “Hungry Hungry Hippos.”
Tactic #2: Over-the-Top Branding
From the many “lawyers who ride” biker-themed websites to the legions of “Hammers” throughout the U.S. (the Texas Hammer, the Arkansas Hammer, etc. — trust us, there’s one for just about every state, especially in the South), there are plenty of lawyers out there who — whether because they want to connect with a certain audience or their own colorful personalities just demand it — love branding and design that’s, shall we say, turned up to 11.
Some of our favorite swing-for-the-fences branding we’ve come across comes from the maritime injury lawyers at the O’Bryan Law Firm in Birmingham, Michigan. We’ve included a screenshot of their website (obryanlaw.net) below.
Not a bad website by means, but wow —let’s take a closer look at that logo.
Yes, that is a gap-toothed pirate skull with a squid body giving himself a mustache with one of his tentacles. Clearly a graphic designer with pent-up dreams of swashbuckling on the high seas got to run wild here, with fascinating results.
To be fair, O’Bryan Law looks like a completely legitimate firm for sea-faring clients, and they actually have quite a nice website. Most likely, they know their audience well and their undead squid-man mascot works for them. (Heck, we checked out their “swag” section to see if we could get some t-shirts.) Still, we have to believe they’re used to getting some interesting reactions to their logo, so we feel comfortable including them here.
The all-time champion for bizarre, out-there law firm branding, though, must be the now-defunct (at least as far as we can tell — the original website has been replaced with generic content that seems to be from a mix of other law firms) solo practice of one Rachel A. Runnels in Arkansas. Let’s take a look.
Amazing. I’m trying to figure out what we have here — is it a scene from deep inside Fleetwood Mac’s Tango in the Night album cover? The menu screen from a 1990s online roleplaying game? What do a lion, a tiger, a cheetah, and some sort of beastmaster sorceress have to do with the practice of law? Sadly, with the original site gone and Ms. Runnels apparently off the online marketing grid, we may never know.
Tactic #3: Stuff All the Keywords!
It’s no secret that law firms tend to lag a bit behind other industries when it comes to their digital marketing tactics, which is why we regularly run into legal marketing copy that’s based on SEO strategy from the turn of the millennium.
If you’re wondering why far too many law firm websites feature migraine-inducing copy like “For people who have a Utah personal injury accident case after an auto accident, experienced personal injury representation from injury accident lawyer John Q. Public is the best solution for their car crash legal case needs,” it’s because a large contingent of lawyers (and their marketing agency or in-house staff) still believe that you need to cover every possible keyword variation in your copy, and they also believe that including mind-numbingly redundant instances of your keywords will improve your search rankings.
Neither of these things are true anymore, though (and haven’t been for years): Google and other search engines are much smarter than they used to be, and they can glean the broad topics that your site covers and match them with the appropriate keywords, including all sorts of variations and close matches. Not only that, but Google will actively punish your site if it appears too keyword-heavy and light on useful, engaging content — which is why there’s just no excuse left for legal marketing copy that reads like a dimwitted bot coughed it up.
Keyword spamming is at its funniest, though, when the copywriter drops almost all pretense of human language and just tries to stuff as many keywords as possible into a paragraph or two of copy. Witness the colossal keyword tangle below that we found on a Michigan Social Security law firm’s site, which some copywriter heroically (quixotically) tried to dress up into something resembling a sentence. Yeah, that’s not going to help your SEO in 2017.
Create a Marketing and Branding Strategy That Works for Your Firm With LaFleur
Just because a marketing strategy is funny or unusual doesn’t mean it’s bad (although some of the examples featured above definitely are). Instead, it’s a matter of knowing your audience and finding the voice, tone, and messaging that speaks to them. At LaFleur, we work with our clients to find the techniques, tools, and strategies that appeal to their audience and deliver results for them — whether their brand and tone is professional and understated or attention-grabbing and boundary-pushing.
If you’re ready to take your legal marketing efforts to the next level with data-driven innovation and forward-thinking content creation, call LaFleur at (888) 222-1512 or fill out our convenient online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you soon!