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June 14, 2023 Best of ABA Sections

The Eyes Have It: The Marketing Power of Visual Content

Cayce Crown, Sherri Phillips, Lynn Lavender, and Carol Shiro Greenwald

Social media introduced people to the value of visuals as a way of communicating factual content and emotion. We know that emotion makes messages “sticky,” meaning that people are more likely to listen to them and remember what they hear. In this article, we cover three forms of visual content: videos, professional headshots, and multimedia storytelling. Effective use of each method can dramatically highlight your brand.

Brand yourself with videos. Video can be a powerful and easy tool to incorporate into your marketing plan because it provides focused search engine optimization (SEO) and search rankings, promotes engagement with your target audience, and persuades potential clients that you’re the right law firm for the job.

Here are five tips for making great marketing videos with just your smartphone. (1) Have the phone in landscape position, not portrait position; this shows your audience that you are a professional and makes you instantly more credible. (2) Use a stable support for your phone; there are all kinds of small, bendable tripods on the market that will easily fit in your purse or pocket. (3) Audio is more important than video; make certain your phone is in airplane mode to prevent annoying dings or notifications when recording, and get an external microphone to plug into your phone if you don’t have a quiet spot for shooting. (4) Camera angle is incredibly important; having the camera at eye level is so much more appealing and trust-inducing than those low angles you see when people use their laptop camera without raising it. (5) Most importantly, be authentic; be who you are, don’t imitate or pretend. Highlighting who you are will attract the clients who fit you best.

Maybe you want the positive results of video without doing it yourself. Hiring a professional videographer with experience in marketing strategy is a smart investment. Professional videographers will know the simple steps to increase your return on investment with visual marketing. It’s an effective brand-building tool that is often used to establish trust and credibility with prospective clients.

Professional headshots put a name to your face. Why is a recent professional headshot or portrait not only a necessity but also an advantage for you and your firm? Headshots can ignite connection and convey your persona before you do. A good photographer will convey aspects of your personality that potential clients will respond to. They’ll begin to form a connection with you before you’ve ever even met or conferred with them. This sense of connection, however subtle, is why people reach out in the first place. If you and your firm are vying for a client, headshots and portraits can be a make-or-break part of your acquisition strategy.

Certain aspects of your firm’s brand—the logo, the font, the color scheme—are relatively easy to quality control and to present in a consistent manner. But it’s equally, if not more, important to communicate your message, your voice, your very presence. A good photographer can help by capturing you and your team in action, whether that’s conferring with clients, hammering out a strategy around the conference table, or doing pro bono work in your community. These images give evidence of how you embody and contribute to your firm’s values.

Reach your audience with multimedia storytelling. Technology keeps changing, and with it, the ways in which we advertise. The expansion of social media over the past ten years launched another revolution in messaging and advertising. Social media has democratized advertising. Anyone can create a post that theoretically has infinite distribution without hiring an ad agency or a social media strategist. The downside of easy access to social media platforms is that everyone is doing it, which creates a glut of promotional material. Audiences are drowning in solicitations and finding it difficult to break through the noise.

The overabundance of unsolicited ads has made it increasingly difficult for advertisers to get their message viewed or read. E-newsletters and email were among the first iterations of e-advertising. Early on, they were welcome sources of information. Now, they increasingly go unread because audiences are overloaded and attention spans are shorter. If you produce a newsletter, keep it to 250 words and tell a story. People remember stories, not facts and figures. Delivering a story in 250 words or less, however, is a challenge if you must rely on text alone.

So how do businesses or individuals effectively ensure their messages have the greatest chance of being received? By creating materials that employ multimedia elements and are unique. Uniqueness can reside in a person’s image, voice, and personality. Today’s technology allows us to express that uniqueness digitally as sound and video files. Combining these digital assets results in a multimedia viewing experience that captures the audience’s attention no matter their learning style while planting the seeds of a bond between advertiser and prospect. By applying current technology to business communications and advertising, a law firm can develop materials that are on-brand while each associate, partner, or team member can have a version that includes his or her own narration and contact information.

Multimedia consists of text, images, audio, video, and animation. Employing as many as possible provides two main advantages: Varying communication methods dramatically increases the likelihood of attracting attention, and varied communication methods ensure all learning styles are accommodated. For example, visual learners may not respond to audio alone, and audio learners may not find text engaging.

Multimedia communications are digital, which means other digital assets can be included as well. Digital assets include anything that can be stored electronically, for example, images, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and logos. Once you have attracted your audience with multimedia, you can then direct them elsewhere by embedding links as needed to your website for more detailed information on specific topics, including forms or surveys to capture reader contact information and other data or showcasing videos including client testimonials, demonstrations of features, and recorded meetings. And that’s not all. You may wish to consider images both static and moving (GIFs); embedded calculators or other interactive tools for experiential learners; and sound files such as narration, podcasts, sound effects, or music. Multimedia advertising has the added advantages of being eco-friendly and available for potentially infinite distribution via URL, and it involves no reprint costs. It may include QR codes for inclusion on business cards, promotional materials, or other forms of advertising.

ABA Law Practice Division

This article is an abridged and edited version of one that originally appeared on page 32 of Law Practice, March/April 2023 (49:2).

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Cayce Crown

Crown View Group, LLC

Cayce Crown is the owner of the Crown View Group, LLC, a video company located in New York City.

Sherri Phillips

Deutsch Photography, Inc.

Sherri Phillips is co-owner of Deutsch Photography, Inc., located in New York City.

Lynn Lavender

NEXUS Digital

Lynn Lavender is the founder of NEXUS digital.

Carol Shiro Greenwald

CSG MarketingPartners

Carol Schiro Greenwald, PhD, is a marketing and management strategist, trainer, and coach.