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ethical marketing in illinois

This post is part of the Attorney’s Guide to Ethical Marketing, a series of posts (and eventually an eBook) that provides attorneys with a summary of key ethical rules for marketing across all fifty states, and the US territories. If you want to be notified when your jurisdiction is covered, subscribe to The Dead Drop, my monthly newsletter covering updates from this site and beyond on marketing, law, and the psychology of persuasion.

  • Relevant Citations: Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (IRPC) of 2010, M.R.P.C. 3140, IRPC 7.1-7.5.
  • Limitations on Direct Contact with Prospective Clients (Y/N): Yes
  • Permitted Forms of Marketing
    • Traditional Media (Y/N): Yes
    • Inbound Marketing (Y/N): Yes
    • Social Media Marketing (Y/N): Yes
    • Email Marketing (Y/N): Yes
    • PPC Advertising (Y/N): Yes
  • Mandatory Language (Y/N): Yes
  • Opt-Out Requirement (Y/N): Yes
  • Retention and Record-keeping Requirement (Y/N): No
  • Non-Surname Branding (Y/N): Yes
  • Date of Last Revision: 2016

Comments:

Illinois has recently revised its Rules of Professional Conduct, and the commentary to the relevant portions of the IRPC show a greater familiarity with and acceptance of digital marketing. See, e.g., Commentary to IRPC 7.2 and 7.3 (expressly authorizing pay-per-click advertisements and limiting attorney-initiated real-time contact with prospective clients).

Illinois mostly follows the MRPC with respect to prohibiting direct solicitation of clients that are not also lawyers, members of the soliciting attorney’s family, or members of the soliciting attorney’s close personal or professional circle. See IRPC 7.3(a). Where Illinois deviates from the rules raises interesting questions for certain digital technologies. Illinois expressly prohibits direct real-time electronic solicitation in a way that may make the use of chatbots on attorney websites tricky. Attorneys who use chatbots may want to include a disclaimer that the chatbot is not intended to be real-time direct contact with a specific consumer and not intended to create a lawyer-client relationship. As with all attorney marketing, chatbot content should be clearly marked as advertising content. See IRPC 7.3(c).

When the Small Business Association (“the SBA”) considered what entrepreneurs needed to do to thrive in today’s world of massive, publicly-traded corporations, the SBA recommended that they spend seven to eight percent of their gross income on marketing. For many just starting out, this may not be much, but its money that needs to be spent well if the business is to grow. However, how do veteran businesses spend their marketing dollars wisely?

“Knowing how much you have to spend on marketing is critical; even more critical is how you spend it. This means having a plan. Your small business marketing budget should be a component of your marketing plan, outlining the costs of how you are going to achieve your marketing goals within a certain timeframe.”
– Caron Beesley, How to Set a Marketing Budget that Fits your Business Goals and Provides a High Return on Investment, SBA.gov (January 9, 2013).

As the SBA puts it, have a marketing plan, and have a way to track the return on investment received via that marketing plan.

One of the first steps in developing a marketing plan is determining what platforms suit both your brand and your products well. By platforms, I mean those avenues (often referred to as marketing channels) you want to pursue to promote your business. Marketing platforms can include:
– traditional marketing channels (such as print, radio, television, and billboards);
– owned digital marketing channels (such as websites and apps);
– social media marketing channels (such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others, as will be discussed below);
– earned media marketing channels (such as Yelp and Nextdoor); and,
– what I will call next wave digital marketing channels (such as Augmented Reality – AR – and Virtual Reality – VR).

Selecting the Right Marketing Platform

There is no one right platform for all products and brands. That needs to be said straight from the outset. However, there is a right way to determine what platforms should be used. When considering how to plan out what platform or platforms to use, a business should think about:
– their brand voice;
– the patterns of life of their target audience; and,
– their financial, technical, and time-based resources available for marketing.

What does this mean? It means that a business that is targeting millennial consumers needs to be using different platforms than a business targeting baby boomer consumers. For enterprises that do target millennial consumers, if their brand’s voice is savvy and sophisticated, they should be focused more on elegantly-composed images on Instagram than on developing an active Facebook group that shares amusing memes.

For small businesses, regardless of their audience and voice, they need to be realistic about those limitations – whether technical, financial or time-based – that will impact their marketing strategy. If business owners do not have the skills to shoot and edit high-quality video (even if with their smartphone), then they should consider whether their approach to marketing should be more focused on text, still photos, and candid live streaming.