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March 01, 2020 The Marketing Issue

Why Video Should Be Part of Your Law Firm’s Marketing Strategy

Pivoting to video can pay off big in visibility, credibility and affordability.

Chris DeWinter

Video marketing is a potent tool that can help your law firm reach potential clients more affordably, more effectively and more persuasively than ever before.

We live in an increasingly video-centric world: According to a 2019 Cisco trend report, by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic—up from 75 percent in 2017. Access to this content will increase too. By 2022, broadband speeds will nearly double, and smartphones will account for 44 percent of total internet traffic, up from 18 percent in 2017.

And it’s getting easier and easier for people to access video content anywhere from the palm of their hand. More importantly, video is increasingly how consumers prefer to consume content.

An SEO Boost You Can't Ignore

Video is also playing a growing role in SEO rankings—which should encourage your firm’s pivot toward video. Today, Google holds a virtual stranglehold on the web-search industry. This means that your marketing strategy should always be adapting to Google’s changing search algorithms and features. Given that Google owns YouTube, you can bet on the company continuing to place a growing emphasis on video in search as technology improves.

Case in point: In late September 2019, Google announced that it developed capabilities to better understand and organize video content in search to make it more useful for users. Previously, it was easier to Google search for visual, textual and audio information than it was for video content. Until recently, web users struggled to quickly extract the information they needed from video interviews, speeches and tutorials using search. The new Google functionality makes it much easier for people to do a search and access key moments in a video based on time-stamp and transcript information provided by content creators.

Given these strides, not only are people becoming more and more interested in videos for marketing and informational purposes, but also it is becoming much easier to find the information needed within videos. The days of having to watch an eight-minute video to find one specific kernel of information will end soon.

For law firms, this shift increases the benefits of creating longer videos that reinforce thought leadership in specific practice areas. You give potential clients a greater ability to access the information they want. You also get a potent opportunity to create content that you are comfortable with, so you can bolster, rather than diminish, your reputation.

A New Approach to Video Content

However, some traditional approaches to law firm marketing have a less-than-stellar reputation—even among lawyers. For instance, the 2017 Florida Bar membership survey found that 85 percent of respondents felt that lawyer advertising negatively affected the public’s view of lawyers and the legal profession. Fifty-seven percent felt that television advertising had the most negative effect on the public’s view of lawyers and the legal profession, followed by billboards at 23 percent. Not surprisingly, only 4 percent of the Florida Bar members surveyed whose firms advertise said their firm used TV ads. In contrast, 83 percent of the same firms had a website, and 45 percent used social media.

Placing video content on the web gives law firms an opportunity to move away from the kinds of TV ads that feature the sometimes-effective-but-often-cringeworthy “Better Call Saul” approach to marketing. Instead, you can focus on more educational, personal, strategic and informational video content that you feel good about creating.

Until recently, the conventional wisdom has been that shorter videos are better because more people will watch shorter videos than longer videos. This conventional wisdom is wrong.

WireBuzz’s Todd Hartley gets to the root of why that is: “Businesses have been misled for years to believe that video completion, as opposed to message delivery, is the North Star metric they should be optimizing for. Message delivery is the real metric that matters.” The objective? Get potential clients to consume your message and for the content to enhance, rather than detract from, your credibility.

Complex legal topics demand a more complete explanation and a more complex content experience. Longer videos can often achieve these objectives better than shorter videos.

If your story is complex, video can often be easier for a general audience to consume than text. Most people scan articles on the internet instead of read them. Videos are a better way to capture and retain their attention.

Several types of video can enhance your online marketing. One common starting point is a high-quality branding video for your practice that explains your key value proposition and tells the story of your firm and how you benefit clients.

Other examples include types of content that effectively position you as a thought leader in your field. One effective format is educational “explainer” videos on complex legal topics. For example, a firm could shoot a series of videos describing different aspects of personal injury law or the ins and outs of Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Videos of this nature perform the dual role of providing valuable information while giving watchers undeniable proof of your competence and qualifications.

Another effective tactic includes offering answers to common legal questions your potential clients might have. This kind of video content is yet another way to position your firm as a knowledgeable and trustworthy resource. Low production costs give you a way to demonstrate authority to potential clients—without any of the potential pitfalls related to providing free legal advice relating to a specific case.

Another proven approach comes in the form of detailed video testimonials that show the compelling and emotional stories of your clients—and how your firm was able to change their lives for the better.

Once you’ve dipped your toes in the video waters, you can expand into promotional video content that details things like your firm’s specific charity work, awards, honors and other reputation-boosting news. You can even use video to enhance other essential aspects of your business. A great example would be recruitment videos that feature staff testimonials and footage highlighting a day in the life at your firm.

Getting Started

Remember: Quality is more important than quantity. A strong branding video can be used to boost engagement on your home page for years. A great explainer video can also serve as an evergreen resource that helps you attract clients in a key practice area for a very long time.

As the reach and importance of video increases, law firms can also benefit from decreases in the cost of video production equipment. The ever-increasing price-performance of video cameras and the ubiquity of smartphones that can shoot decent quality video have significantly reduced the barriers to getting started in video. Law videos of all kinds rarely require expensive location shoots or large crews, so they’re attainable on a modest budget.

That said, quality content attracts quality clients, so cheaper is not always better. We’ve all seen legal videos that demonstrate how not to do it. Classics of the genre include salesy car dealership-style content featuring lots of yelling and pointing at the camera. Or there’s the more low-key but equally unappealing approach featuring listless talking heads shot in front of low-quality backdrops that look like they were rescued from the Sears Portrait Studio dumpster.

Creating videos that avoid these common mistakes produces the right kind of impact. There’s nothing worse than seeing a lawyer who displays true charisma in the courtroom fumbling with their hands and awkwardly reading from a teleprompter in an unflattering commercial shot in front of a law library bookshelf. A good director won’t let this happen. Nor will they let you misuse this inherently visual medium by relying on text-heavy appeals that fail to connect on a human level.

As the importance of video increases, the importance of doing it right does too. Research from Brightcove found that 62 percent of consumers were more likely to have a negative perception of a brand that produced a poor-quality video. The research also found that 23 percent of those who had viewed a poor-quality video would hesitate to purchase from the brand.

In contrast, engaging and well-made videos set you apart from the crowd and inspire confidence while creating a personal connection between your lawyers and your potential clients before the potential clients even call your firm. Professional-quality scripts, direction and production can help convey the image you want and the expertise you have. More quality production companies are also out there competing to help you create and tell your story than ever before.

While video content is a potent tool for enhancing SEO for your website, it’s also important to distribute that video to all the social media channels you inhabit. According to ABA’s 2019 Legal Technology Survey Report, 80 percent of respondents’ firms are on social media,  and of those firms, 80 percent now participate on LinkedIn, 39 percent on Facebook and 28 percent on Twitter. And video’s importance in all these channels is undeniable.

In fact, study after study has confirmed video’s ability to boost user engagement across all your social media sites. On LinkedIn, video posts average three times the engagement of text posts and are five times more likely than other content to spark discussions among LinkedIn members. On Twitter, tweets with videos gain 10 times more engagement than those without.

One study even found that marketers had to spend about 20 times as much on TV ads just to reach double the audience they reach with their Facebook videos. In other words, you can reach people much more cost-effectively using social media, and you can reach them much more efficiently there by strategically employing video.

As the ABA’s survey shows, the use of video in law firm marketing is growing fast. In 2018, 77 percent of respondents said their firms had not yet used video in their marketing. By 2019, that number had decreased to 65 percent.

One thing is clear: Video isn’t going anywhere except upward in the marketing mix for law firms. By making strategic investments in quality video now, you can differentiate your firm and start reaping ROI benefits that pay dividends for many years to come.

Chris DeWinter

Chris DeWinter is executive producer and partner for October Production + Post, a global video production and content creation company based in Chicago with an additional office in Park City, Utah. [email protected]