Let’s take a quick look back in time and revisit America in 1850. If you wanted to attract clients in whatever business you were in, what did you do? You hung a sign in town, which told people what goods or services you provided. So the dentist just needed to post “John Smith—Dentist,” and everyone in town knew who the dentist was and where to go for dental care. Of course, back then there was usually just one person providing a particular service in town. As towns grew, so did competition and how people sought a business or service.
As America grew, technology crept into our lives, and with it came further changes to how businesses attracted their clients. With the telephone came the directory or phone book. People moved to the outskirts of town and no longer went to town daily or even weekly. So advertising in phone books made sense. You could reach people who would otherwise not walk by your storefront and see your sign. At one point lawyers were forbidden from advertising in an attempt to elevate the profession—or at least that was the rationale.