Owning vs rentingThis post serves as a quick follow up to my discussion of whether lawyers should pay for a sponsored AVVO listing. One issue I touched on in that discussion is the better return which comes from an attorney owning their marketing assets as opposed to renting ad space (such as sponsored listings) from third-parties such as AVVO. In this post I’m going to quickly touch on why not owning your own marketing assets creates two very large problems for your firm. These problems are the fact that you are vulnerable to future price increases and that you run the risk of basing your firm’s future on the popularity of something you don’t control.

Renting advertising space from third-parties is bad for law firms. This is true whether you are talking about paying for pay-per-click ads, sponsored listings, or putting your name on the Goodyear blimp. The first reason why such a strategy is problematic is that it makes the lawyer dependent on a service which may increase its prices. For example, in 2008 many Las Vegas family law attorneys were relying on pay-per-click ads and paying roughly $8-10 per click. Today, those same clicks would cost around $25-30. Now, let’s say one built up a significant practice a few years ago by relying on pay-per-click. A three hundred percent increase in marketing costs can eat away one’s profits. If those attorneys, instead, had been investing in their own website content then they would not be seeing their profits eaten away. Want to ensure the long-term sustainability of your practice? If the answer is “yes” then you need to own your assets rather than rent ad space which is subject to price increases.

The second potential problem with renting ad space from third-parties is that you are banking on the popularity of a given platform you don’t own or control. You’re then left hoping that such a platform continues to manage their business properly. Say, for example, one put time into branding themselves on Myspace ten years ago. Well, how’s that working out in 2015? What if you were paying for web directory listings before Google came along and changed search in the late 1990’s? Well those directories, on which one may have built their practice, aren’t people’s main source of finding ‘da 411 anymore. By owning your assets and controlling your strategy you ensure that you’re not relying on others to keep up with the changing web. This is crucial to your future.

Want to ensure your firm’s long-term future? You’d better own your marketing assets.