How Branded Search Campaigns Protect Your Law Firm from Competitors
You’ve probably heard that your law firm needs a PPC campaign. I’m sure you’ve also seen a million pitches from marketing companies promising you the world through paid Google ads.
There are a lot of myths out there about PPC and many ways of spending too much money for low or no ROI. That’s because PPC is multifaceted and nuanced. There are several ways to approach a brand’s paid search campaign, and many of them aren’t totally clear.
I want to show you an example of how FindLaw uses PPC in a way you may not think of: brand protection. Competing law firms can create a PPC campaign around the name of similar law firms in town, including yours. The goal is for their firm to show up before yours in a Google search in hopes of poaching a few prospects who are interested in you.
All industries do it.
Creating PPC campaigns around a competing brand’s name is typical of most industries. Let me show you an example before we talk about your law firm.
Meal delivery services—companies that mail you all the ingredients you need for a quick home cooked dinner—are popping up everywhere. Because there are so many, companies are doing everything to attract new customers. For the example at right, I searched for the brand “Home Chef” in Google. (fig. a)
If Home Chef didn’t use branded PPC, the first three search results would show not only their competitors but special offers that make those companies look even more attractive. Hello Fresh, Plated and Blue Apron are hoping that their discounts will stop you from noticing (or clicking on) Home Fresh’s generic search result. (fig. b)
Which looks more enticing to you, the links with a discount attached or Home Chef’s organic link? Big companies spend a lot of money on branded PPC campaigns to protect from and advertise against competitors. Their campaigns are so expensive because the number of bids on keywords creates high value. On the other hand, small businesses can both protect their brand and compete like the big businesses because their names aren‘t searched nearly as often, thus a lower level of competition makes keywords more affordable.
What can your firm do?
I talk to a lot of law firms about PPC. Many don’t understand the value of a branded campaign. I understand why it’s difficult to jump on board because many people assume that if a legal consumer already knows your name, they’re already interested in you. Why spend more money for them to click on your website? Because at that point the prospect is yours to lose and competing firms could be ready to pounce. A branded search campaign is an easy and inexpensive way to ensure that the prospects interested in your firm are making it to your website. Converting a curious individual into a paying client becomes much easier from there.
Branded PPC won’t see high traffic volume, but campaigns should see a positive ROI since the cost associated is normally low. For our clients, FindLaw sets up a Google AdWords account to bid on keyword searches for their law firm’s name along with the names of their attorneys. When this is done right, a prospect searching for your law firm will see your ads on their results page, not your competition’s.
But, isn’t my brand protected by a trademark?
A competing law firm can still buy keywords using your firm’s name, even if any part of your branding is trademarked. That’s because they’re not explicitly selling off your name. Trademarks protect the use of the trademarked name in advertising, not as a keyword. Since the keyword triggering the advertisement isn’t visible to the legal consumer, they have every right to do so.
Remember, this is a defensive play.
The point of branded campaigns is not to generate lead volume. It’s there to protect your brand from law firms who are trying to poach legal consumers who’ve done research on your firm. These are prospective clients who you have earned through your other marketing efforts and they’re people who you deserve to hear from. Having them stolen from your digital doorstep is a real shame and an easy fix. We’ve been protecting our attorney clients from this for years at FindLaw and we know how to do the same for your law firm.