Social media–Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook—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. Here we cover three forms of visual content: Cayce Crown discusses videos, Sherri Phillips hones in on professional headshots and Lynn Lavender focuses on multimedia storytelling. Effective use of each method can dramatically highlight your brand. Choose the one or two that suit you best.
Brand Yourself With Videos
Video for lawyers? It often conjures up a feeling of those tacky ads on television for questionable personal injury lawyers— not uplifting or attractive. Nobody wants that. Or possibly you remember the lawyer who, during a virtual courtroom session in Texas, didn’t seem to know his Zoom filter was on as a sad-faced kitten? He adamantly stated, “I’m not a cat.”
I am here to tell you that you can have gorgeous videos that show not only what you do, but who you are, which you can use to attract your perfect clients. Video can be a powerful and easy tool to incorporate into your marketing plan because it provides focused search engine optimization and search rankings, promotes engagement with your target audience, and persuades potential clients that you’re the right law firm for the job.
Statistically, video is probably the most useful visual marketing tool available. According to Statista, in 2022, online videos had an audience reach of almost 93% among internet users worldwide. Cisco has reported that by 2022, it expected video to make up 82% of global internet traffic. Further, Animoto tells us that 93% of businesses gain new customers as a direct result of posting branded video content to social media platforms. Video watching is only increasing as time goes by, and technology makes it easier to create your valuable content.
Even though it is true that any video is better than no video, there are simple points for producing more watchable, and therefore more viewable, marketing videos. Here are five tips for making great marketing videos with just your smartphone:
- Have the phone in landscape position, not portrait position. This will show your audience that you are a professional, not just a random TikToker, and makes you instantly more credible.
- 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.
- Audio is more important than video. Make certain your phone is in airplane mode when recording. You don’t want annoying dings or notifications going off during your perfect take. If you don’t have a quiet spot for shooting, get an external microphone that will plug into your phone. People won’t watch beautiful video with unclear audio. They will, however, watch awful video with clear audio.
- Camera angle is incredibly important. Having the camera at eye level (or even a little above) is so much more appealing and trust-inducing than those low angles you see when people use their laptop camera without raising it.
- Most importantly, be authentic. Be who you are, don’t imitate or pretend. If you’re a shark, don’t hold a kitten. If you’re not a smiley person, don’t smile. If you are bubbly, be bubbly. Highlighting who you are will attract the clients who fit you best. There is no need to waste time on people who aren’t your demographic.
Law firms that invest time and resources into building their online presence through video are thriving. Maybe you want the results of video without doing it yourself. Hiring a professional videographer with experience in marketing strategy is a smart investment. They will know all the simple steps to increase your return on investment with visual marketing. It’s an effective brand-building tool, which is often used to establish trust and credibility with prospective clients. Video makes you approachable and boosts online engagement. Keep in mind that different types of lawyers will need different types of video. Corporate law, for example, will generally prefer to be more serious, while family law visual marketing can be more casual and personable.
Professional Headshots Put a Name To Your Face
Are headshots and portraits yet another extra expense for lawyers? No. They are a necessary expense, whether you’re a sole practitioner, a boutique firm or a mammoth global organization. The “Professionals” or “About” section of your firm’s website is probably one of its most viewed pages. Prospective clients, opposing counsel, media and your mom expect to find you there, and if you’re absent, not only will eyebrows be raised, but there may be a price to pay. People want to be able to put a face to a name, and when they can’t, questions and doubt seep in.
Why are recent professional headshots and portraits not only a necessity, but an advantage for you and your firm? Headshots can ignite connection and convey your persona before you do.
One of our basic traits as humans is our desire to connect with one another. A good photographer will convey aspects of your personality that potential clients will respond to, whether that’s an attitude of authority, a warm and relatable approach, an unbreachable professionalism or a steely-eyed determination. 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.
And the bonus? The superpower of headshots is that they’re retroactive. You know that familiar feeling when you’ve seen photos of someone whom you finally meet in person? You’ve already formed opinions; you’re not starting from ground zero. People want to do business with people they like and trust. When they’ve seen your headshot and then meet you, they’ll have that same sense of “Oh, I know this person!”—and that’s a huge head start over a cold introduction.
Portraits and action shots contribute to your firm’s brand.
Certain aspects of your firm’s brand are tangible: the logo, the font, the color scheme. Those are relatively easy to quality control and to present in a consistent manner. But it’s equally, if not more, important to communicate the intangibles of your brand including 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 tangible evidence of how you embody and contribute to your firm’s values.
Your headshot represents you.
When a story is breaking about a high-profile case, a community outreach or even a firm’s expansion, you don’t want a random selfie or unlit amateur photo to be pulled from social media or some other secondary source because that’s what the reporters got their hands on. The very first place they’ll look is on your company website. Give them what you both want: a professional, attractive and compelling headshot that shows you off in the best light, literally and figuratively. Your marketing department will thank you.
A professional portrait can convey the best of you to clients and others. This is precisely why a good headshot also inspires confidence—in yourself. We’ve all experienced that sinking reaction of “Is that really what I look like?” when we’ve seen photos of ourselves. A professional photographer will draw you out, position you to emphasize your best features, advise you about wardrobe, set the lights just so to catch your best angles and guide you in achieving a relaxed, natural expression. When you see yourself as your potential clients will see you rather than through the haze of self-judgment, you’ll get a boost of confidence that matches your legal prowess.
Professional images put you in control of your narrative.
You already know how you want your clients to perceive you. You know your strengths as a lawyer, you know your values as a world citizen, you know the messages you want to communicate. As a lawyer, you are the amalgamation of your years of experience, your education, your hard-fought cases and your drive to succeed and excel. Not a single lawyer out there can duplicate or even approach that combination because they haven’t lived your life, they don’t have your history and they don’t share your specific dreams. That’s what makes you special. Don’t settle for schlocky stock imagery that portrays you as some cookie-cutter lookalike in the legal field. Let a professional photographer help you share what is unique about you, whether that’s on your website, through social media or through the press. You give your best, and you deserve the best.
Reach Your Audience with Multimedia Storytelling
Advertising has evolved with the times over the past 100 years. In the 1920s, Americans became a nation of automobile owners. Allan Odell, a shaving cream salesman, recognized that these travelers were a captive audience. He became a minor celebrity in the annals of advertising history by introducing the country to the humorous roadside Burma Shave signs.
Technology keeps changing, and with it the ways in which we advertise. As televisions appeared in every household in the 1950s, we saw the proliferation of shows dubbed “soap operas.” That sobriquet evolved from the fact that so many of their advertisers were selling soap and laundry detergent. The 1990s saw the rise of Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh and public access to the internet. Advertisers saw a new opportunity, and banner ads bombarded the early adopters of personal computer technology.
The expansion of social media over the past 10 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, creating a glut of promotional material. So, while creators of content love the promise of unlimited distribution, 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 that also promoted a brand, product or service. Now increasingly they go unread because audiences are overloaded and attention spans are shorter.
For those who produce newsletters, keep them 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 one must rely on text alone.
So how does a business or individual effectively ensure their message has 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 videos 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 their own narration and contact information.
Multimedia marketing and communications pieces are like Swiss Army knives: Each component fills a need, and all are housed in one handy container. 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.
Breaking through the social media noise requires utilizing all tools at hand and appealing to all types of learners. While e-newsletters, social media posts and ads all have the potential of going viral, featuring a person’s uniqueness has the added value of planting the seeds of bonding between the individual and the prospective client. Imagine a prospective client receiving a brochure with a narrated message from your firm, while that same prospect receives a virtual contact file card with only contact info from your competitor.
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 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. How about cartoons that tell a story in under two minutes or links to outside resources for supporting documentation such as white papers? Multimedia advertising has the added advantages of being eco-friendly and available for potentially infinite distribution via URL, and involves no reprint costs. It may include QR codes for inclusion on business cards, promotional materials or other forms of advertising.
Most business communications and advertising today does not take advantage of all the digital tools that are available. What does the future hold for business communications? 3D? Virtual reality? Be ready to try and use whatever new formats the future provides.