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July/August 2021

Simple Steps: Video as a Marketing Tool

Allison C. Shields Johs

A recent study by Wyzowl revealed that 86 percent of businesses use video as a marketing tool, and 93 percent of marketers who use video say it’s an important part of their mar­keting strategy. There’s good reason for this. In the same survey, 68 percent of consumers said the pandemic has affected how much video content they have watched online, and of those, 96 percent say they’ve watched more online video as a result of the pandemic. And yet, lawyers still don’t seem to be taking advantage of this trend.

According to the ABA’s 2020 Legal Technology Survey Report, only 24 percent of lawyers surveyed say their firms use video as part of their marketing, and only 6 percent of solos reported doing so. This represents an enormous missed opportunity for lawyers.

Why Video?

People do business with people they know, like and trust. But these days, we’re not getting to spend too much time with people. Everything has moved online, and most interactions are virtual. The pandemic closed down in-person events for over a year (and counting). There are no big events, and there is no in-person networking. As of this writing, many people haven’t even visited family and friends in a full year. All of this makes it that much more difficult to get the word out and to meet new people.

At the same time, it is becoming more and more difficult for law firm websites to rank well in search engines. Social media advertising and pay-per-click campaigns have become extremely competitive and are prohibitively expensive for the average solo or small firm lawyer.

Video can help lawyers close the gap created by the pandemic by establishing credibility and rapport with their audience online. Before a potential client picks up the phone or sends an email, watching a video can help to build trust, demonstrate the lawyer’s expertise and show potential clients what it might be like to work with the firm.

Video can also help improve a firm’s visibility in search engines. While text-based posts, articles and images continue to be important content for lawyers to produce, video grabs users’ attention in a different way. Because video ranks favorably on Google and social media platforms, it presents an opportunity for solos and small firms to capture attention without spending a lot of money on ads or pay-per-click campaigns. According to marketing giant HubSpot, “Video is central to your outreach and campaign efforts … especially your social strategy.”

In 2021, people are accessing the internet on mobile devices more than ever. Viewers are more likely to stop scrolling through their social media feed and to engage with a video post or click through to the firm’s website. And web visitors may stay on a webpage longer to view a video, instead of reading a lengthy text-based page.

What Video Content Should Lawyers Create?

Contrary to popular belief, law firm videos do not have to be expensively produced with special effects or equipment to be effective. In fact, according to HubSpot, “For most videos, the more simple and raw it is, the more authentic the content seems … and that’s what really matters to your audience.” The key is to create video that is genuine, that reflects the needs of the firm’s target audience, answers their burning questions or otherwise provides value, while at the same time humanizing the firm and its lawyers.

Lawyers work with complex problems. Video that takes complex legal concepts and breaks them down into manage­able pieces that a layperson can understand demonstrates not only the lawyer’s knowledge, but also their ability to com­municate in a way that clients will understand. Conducting interviews of industry experts or posting video testimonials of happy clients who are willing to share their story and their experience with the firm can help build the authority of the firm and its lawyers.

Posting a welcome video on a firm’s homepage that helps orient visitors may encourage web visitors to stay on the page or to explore. Answering frequently asked questions in a series of videos on the firm’s website may convince a prospect that this is the firm they want to work with.

Video is also an opportunity to introduce both lawyers and staff with whom a potential client might interact, making the client feel more comfortable, as if they are already acquainted with people at the firm before their first appointment. And video can also be a way to inject a bit of fun or entertainment into a law firm’s website.

Camera-shy lawyers can still make use of video as a mar­keting tool, even if they would prefer not to appear on screen. Animated videos, or videos created with a slideshow and voice­over, are just two examples.

Where to Start

While video is easy to create with readily available tools, good video still requires preparation. Start by thinking about who the target audience for the video is and what you want them to do as a result of watching—call your office, fill out a form, down­load something from your website? What are your audience’s main concerns? What kinds of information do they search for on the internet? Brainstorm a list of topic ideas.

Lawyer videos should be short and easy to digest. When starting out, it is common to try to include too much informa­tion in each video; don’t be afraid to break down a topic into smaller pieces spread over several videos. Consider making several videos at once and spacing out their release on your site and social media channels.

Practice, practice, practice. Even great public speakers who are used to taking the stage or presenting to an audience will find that making a video and speaking to a camera is a very different experience that can take some getting used to.

It can be helpful to write up a script or list of bullet points to cover, but reading a script word for word is not recommended in most cases. Reading can come across as dull or boring, and inflection often gets lost. Looking directly at the camera, rather than at a script, helps establish a connection with the audience. There are tele­prompter programs that can be used, but even these take some practice.

Lighting and sound quality are important elements to get right. Overhead lighting can wash out the subject of the video, and too much light behind the subject makes it dif­ficult to see the subject clearly. Place a light behind the camera, in front of the subject, for the best results. Inexpensive lights for this purpose can easily be purchased on the inter­net. Use a headset or external micro­phone (also easy to find online), rather than the microphone embed­ded in the device, when shooting video from a smartphone, desktop or laptop computer.

Adding captions to videos can make them more accessible for those with disabilities and for users who prefer not to turn the sound on when scrolling through their social media channels. Accompanying a video with a text transcript can also be helpful for users who do prefer to read, and transcripts can also be helpful for search engine optimization since search engines cannot decipher video with no text.

It’s time for lawyers to jump on the video bandwagon and to engage their audience in a different way, or risk being left behind.

Allison C. Shields Johs


Allison C. Shields Johs is the president of Legal Ease Consulting, Inc., where she works with lawyers and law firms to develop strategies to improve marketing and client service, and increase productivity, efficiency and profitability. She is the co-author of several books, including LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers (ABA 2013) and How to Do More in Less Time: The Complete Guide to Increasing Your Productivity and Improving Your Bottom Line (ABA 2014). [email protected]

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