Although streaming services and podcasts have grown in popularity for audio listeners worldwide, 90% of Americans still only listen to AM/FM radio.

For lawyers, that means there’s a huge opportunity to reach your local audience directly by placing an ad on radio stations in your region.

Radio won’t replace your other marketing and advertising efforts, but it can help supplement them.

If you believe radio might be a new way to reach your local audience, discover what goes into buying, writing, and producing a successful radio ad for your law firm.

Does Radio Advertising Work for Lawyers?

The short answer to this question is yes. Radio advertising can work for lawyers. But there’s a caveat: it likely won’t outperform other marketing channels.

Radio may not be your primary source of leads, but it’s another place to get brand and name recognition with local residents.

There are three reasons radio advertising works well for lawyers:

  • It’s local
  • Many stations have strong listenership
  • It’s cost-effective compared to TV or PPC ads

Depending on your local region, you could pay big bucks for a TV ad for your law firm. These stations charge rates as “CPM,” which means your cost per estimated 1,000 people who see the ad.

For most attorneys, a CPM of $5 or less on your radio campaign is ideal.

That’s cheaper than the $20-30 average for TV ads. But where this low CPM really shines is when compared to streaming platforms.

Hulu Over-the-top (OTT) ads have insanely high costs, with a CPM between $60 and $80. While Hulu advertising may seem great because it’s the hot new thing, the cost could be prohibitive.

A CPM of $60 may not get you a positive ROI. Meanwhile, the lower CPM of radio ads could net you more clients at a much lower rate.

Some radio stations don’t charge on a CPM model. Instead, they charge a flat rate based on the time of day.

When looking at another ad option, pay-per-click, consider that “lawyer” and “attorney” are two of the most expensive keywords to target with both Google PPC and Bing.

Radio comes with a drawback that may be a deal-breaker for some lawyers.

Tracking is a challenge with radio ads. Since you’re charged per estimated listener on that CPM rate or flat rate, you can’t verify exactly how many people heard your ad. At least with pay-per-click, you know someone was there to experience your ad, and you could even track what they clicked on and did next.

You don’t get those same metrics from a radio ad. Good tracking for radio ads also requires you to set up a special toll-free number to track leads, which is another expense.

Radio Advertising Considerations

The value of radio advertising depends on a few factors, including the cost of production, the cost of ad slots, and the demographic targets of the stations in your area. Before electing to take on radio advertising for your law firm, look carefully at each of these to make sure it’s a fit.

Station Demographics

Your first step is to determine if radio advertising makes sense for you at all. Depending on your practice area and the services you want to promote over the airwaves, your ability to use the radio effectively may be limited by the kinds of stations in your region.

For example, an estate and trusts lawyer might choose to submit their ads to public radio or a station that plays the oldies. By targeting your listening audience as much as possible, you increase the chances that your target clients hear your ad.

Ask for typical listenership of local stations when researching radio advertising for lawyers. There is no point in running an ad to a station with no listeners or one that doesn’t have your target clients in their demographic. If you discover that either applies, consider other advertising methods for attorneys.

Radio ads are perfect for hyperlocal advertising. Much like placing a billboard on an accident-prone stretch of your highway works well for personal injury lawyers, a local radio spot can get the word out about your services to people you can help.

If you have a broader audience, such as targeting victims of train/plane wrecks, big accidents, or natural disaster insurance claimants, demographics aren’t as important since you just want to reach as many people as possible.

Don’t resort to the lowest price when discussing ad options with your local station. Radio advertisers have advanced analytics on their listenership during certain hours. You may get frustrated with the results of an inexpensive ad that airs once at 2 PM when no one is listening, so think strategically about when to air yours.

While you’ll pay more for prime-time ads, such as during the morning and evening rush hour, you may also reach a much bigger audience as people commute. You might even run your ad a few times during a week or month during those busy periods to increase your name recognition with the same audience.

Production Costs

Lawyers have two options for recording radio ads: paying a professional advertising/marketing agency or in-house station production. Both have their pros and cons.

If you pay a professional, you’ll have to find the right person to draft and record the ad for you. You’ll also have to make sure that person or agency is familiar with any restrictions the radio station places on ads. Your costs might include things like:

  • The expense of hiring an ad agency to create your overall strategy for radio
  • The cost of hiring someone to draft your ad for you
  • The fees for a voiceover artist to record your ad if you’re not doing it yourself
  • Paying for studio time or buying good audio to record the ad yourself

You can expect to pay anywhere from $300-1000 for radio production costs.

Advertising Costs

For traditional local stations, many factors influence the cost of advertising on the radio, and they may also vary from one station to another. Factors that influence expense include the time of day your ads run, the frequency, and the location of the broadcast.

Radio stations set their ad rates at either a flat fee based on the length and time placement or a CPM (cost per thousand listeners) model. Competition for popular spots may also drive those costs up more.

In general, most area radio stations break down parts of the day into five categories:

  • Morning drive time: Typically from 6-10 AM
  • Mid-day drive time: Typically from 10 AM-3 PM
  • Afternoon drive time: Typically from 3-7 PM
  • Evening drive time: Typically from 7 PM-midnight
  • Late night drive time: Typically from midnight to 6 AM

Radio stations divide their days like this to coincide with most people’s commutes. Morning and afternoon drive times have the highest listener counts. Mid-day and evening have fewer listeners. The late night drive time has the least.

The morning and afternoon drive times will cost the most but also give you access to the most listeners.

Writing Your Own Radio Ad

Most radio ads are written by the radio station employee who sold the ad time to begin with or a station DJ. Just because the DJ has the skills to read an ad well doesn’t mean that person is a trained copywriter. They may not create the best ad for your firm. You’re better off writing the copy yourself or hiring a professional radio ad copywriter.

Your law firm radio spot is a direct response advertisement. Clever or cute ads won’t work well in this format. Instead, ads with clear and compelling messages win on the radio.

Since most radio ads are 10, 15, 30, or 60 seconds, avoid overwhelming people with information. Listen to some of the existing ads running on the station you’re considering to determine what works well and which ads struck a chord with you as a listener.

Once you have your final radio ad script, ask the station if they’ll let you come in to record it. You can’t control the pace, tone, or inflection of someone else reading your ad. When you read it directly, you introduce your firm and yourself to the listening audience. It’s much more connected and personal to people listening than having a DJ record it for you.

They might let you come in and record it yourself. It’s much more personal and connected to people listening than a DJ doing it.

When you draft an ad, these tips will come in handy:

  • You need something catchy enough that the listener remembers your name later
  • It’s not about you but about something relevant to your audience
  • You only have a few seconds to grab their attention, so start strong

Here are two examples of attorney ads with reasons why one makes more sense. One works well, while the other is less likely to get a good response.

Bad lawyer radio ad:

“I’m James Craig, and I practice law in the Denver metro region. If you need help with a legal issue in business, estates, trusts, or car accident situations, I’ve been practicing for ten years. Call me now at 888-892-8463.”

Here’s why this ad doesn’t work:

  • The opening line is just an introduction to the lawyer’s name
  • There’s nothing mentioned about this lawyer that stands out from a sea of attorneys
  • Too many practice areas mentioned muddle the message
  • Driving listeners may not remember a random 10-digit phone number

Better radio lawyer ad:

“Every year, 900 people suffer catastrophic injuries in preventable accidents on Denver’s highways. I’m James Craig, and I’ve recovered $20 million for local car accident victims. I fight for lifelong benefits for you and your family. If you’re suffering and facing years of medical bills, call 1-800-IAM-HURT now.”

Here’s why this ad is better:

  • The opening gets the reader’s attention
  • It’s focused on one practice area
  • He notes what’s at stake for the reader (pain and suffering, years of medical bills)
  • It’s reader-focused, mentioning fund recovery and fighting for the victim’s needs
  • The lawyer mentions his unique value proposition clearly
  • The call to action is an easy to remember number

Audio Advertising Isn’t Limited to the Radio

You’re not limited to advertising on traditional radio. You might expand your reach by considering other channels like Spotify, Sirius XM, or iheartradio. Most of these channels have a more national audience and will likely cost more, but there are significant upsides.

If your law firm has offices in multiple states or a national presence, these internet stations may perform well for you. If you’re currently gathering claimants for a national class action case, you could reach a big audience of potential clients by running a handful of ads on these platforms.

The cost of advertising on Internet radio stations can range from a few hundred dollars a month for self-service ads on Spotify up to $1500+ a week on places like Pandora and iheartradio.

Similarly, maybe there’s a popular podcaster in your local region. Placing an ad on their show or getting interviewed by the host puts you right in front of local people who might consider hiring you.

If there’s a popular small business or tech startup podcast in your area and you’re a business formation attorney, that’s a great chance to meet potential clients by building trust through a show they already listen to.

Get Your Message Heard Now

Graphic of Chris Dreyer with quote "Deliver proof, not promises.

When you can get data about local station demographics, you might be interested in placing your own law firm ad on the radio. Getting traction with your law firm radio ad means budgeting for your production and ad placement expenses, finding the stations with your audience, and writing strong copy that connects with those listeners.

Before making a final decision about radio advertising for your law firm, make sure it matches your marketing strategy goals. Defining your marketing goals, channels, and tactics requires creating a business plan for your law firm.