Getting Value Out of Video: Dos and Don’ts for Law Firms

According to the National Law Review, people watch nearly 5 billion videos online every day. Videos are no longer optional—they’re an important part of any marketing strategy. However, it can be difficult to determine whether an investment in video is worth it, especially since it tends to be expensive. When done well, video can be an effective tool for converting leads. Done wrong, it’s a waste of money.

If you’re embarking on a video project and you’re not sure where to begin, start with these basic dos and don’ts to get the most value out of your investment:

Do keep it brief
Even though videos are wildly popular, people aren’t willing to watch them for more than a few minutes at most. Condense and simplify your message as much as possible. When you’re in the storyboarding process, keep in mind that there are a billion other things that your viewers can click on and it takes mere seconds to lose interest. It’s crucial that you get the most important point across almost immediately.

Don’t be a talking head
Videos can and should be engaging and dynamic. Don’t waste an opportunity by sitting behind a desk and talking at the camera. Think about how you can show your firm in a creative way, whether that’s through humor, interesting camera shots or an emotional connection. If you must talk to the camera, try standing up or walking around to create some action.

Don’t skip the fundamentals
No matter how well-thought-out your story is, if your video quality is low it will undermine your message. Good lighting and sound are key. If you’re making a video in house, you don’t have to spend a fortune on professional equipment, but you should do a test run to make sure that the lighting is good and the sound is clear. If you’re working with an agency, check their portfolio before you hire them and ask to see footage in the editing stage, before you’re surprised with a sub-par video.

Do keep it lighthearted
Video is a fun, creative medium, so tell a story to match. People hire people, not robots or slick salespeople, and younger generations especially are skeptical of any overt advertising. Formality does not come across well online, so ditch the self-promotion and allow your firm to show a bit of its fun side.

Do share videos with decision makers
According to Forbes, 65% of senior executives say that watching a video prompted them to visit a vendor website. Well-done videos can be very persuasive—in fact, many professionals say they prefer watching a video to reading. Get your video in front of the people who need to see it by any means necessary, whether that means boosting it on social media, adding a link to your email signature or bringing it on the road to conferences and speaking engagements.

Is Your Law Firm Overlooking These Social Media Ethics Guidelines?

Social media is a great marketing tool, but just like every other form of advertising that law firms use, it comes with certain ethical guidelines. Breaching those standards can have serious consequences, too—a misguided Tweet or unclear Facebook post could, hypothetically, lead to a penalty or even disbarment. It’s a worst-case scenario, but it is possible.

However, even if the consequences of misuse can be severe, you shouldn’t be afraid of social media, as long as you’re familiar with the basic ethical guidelines. Here are a few you might not be aware of, rounded up by NewsBlaze:

Don’t call yourself a specialist if you’re not one
Many career-focused websites and social networks (like LinkedIn) prompt users to add their specialties to their profiles. That might be a simple task for professionals in other industries, but unless you actually have the proper certifications, you should avoid writing anything that might imply you’re a certified legal specialist when you’re not one. Take the information on your online profiles seriously and make sure that nothing can be misconstrued.

Sending a friend request could be considered solicitation
No matter how harmless your intentions may be, connecting with someone on Facebook or another social network when they need legal advice could be considered solicitation. If someone has expressed a need for an attorney, adding them on social media is off-limits, especially if you have no prior relationship with them. In general, it’s a good idea to only friend people you have genuine relationships with, and be judicious if current, former or potential clients try to add you online.

Your competitors might be watching
This isn’t exactly an ethical concern, but it is something important to keep in mind. Especially if you’re at a large firm, competitors might be watching you closely online, and they may have no problem reporting you for seemingly unethical online behavior. Sometimes, it has less to do with what you actually mean and more about how it appears to other people. Imagine how others will perceive what you post before you hit “enter”.

Your jurisdiction isn’t the only one you have to worry about
By nature, the internet isn’t confined to one place. Every time you post online, you’re communicating across jurisdictions, each one with different laws and ethical standards. Something that is acceptable in one area could be a serious offense in another, and that can impact you no matter where you’re posting from. When in doubt, be conservative about what you share on social media and you’ll limit your chances of violating any guidelines.

Seven Steps to Prepare for a Media Interview

You just secured a highly-coveted media interview with an outlet that will position you in front of hundreds of potential clients – congratulations, that’s a big win!

In many ways, nailing the perfect interview is like preparing for a first date; sometimes our expectations are very different from the outcome. But remembering a few very simple pointers will prepare you to stay on message, get your point across and create a great rapport with the reporter.

From our experience, below is a list of seven essential tips in order to nail a media interview. If you’d like to really brush up on your interview skills, watch our webinar, which will take you through the process from securing the interview to mastering the follow-up.

Watch the webinar: Media Training Tips

Stage Presence

While growing up, how many times did our mothers tell us to “Sit up straight” or “Don’t slouch”? Probably hundreds! And while it undoubtedly annoyed us at the time, it’s actually great business advice…especially when participating on a conference panel or making a speech or presenting your firm’s abilities to prospective new clients.

You’ve probably heard the axiom “act as if.” It’s equally important to “look as if.” Your posture, your mannerisms, the neatness of your attire, and the interest you show in what you’re talking about all play a major role in establishing your credibility in front of your audience.

Many people don’t like public speaking, but for service professionals it’s an important part of your business development activities. So the next time you’re asked to speak publicly, don’t shy away; just remember all the good advice your mother gave you and you’ll do a great job!

Legal Sales

Legal sales is an emerging field in law firms, and you couldn’t have hoped for a more experienced panel speaking about it at the recent LMA conference. The panel members were: David C. Burkhardt, Client Service Director at Wyrick Robbins; Sheila Ardalan Chief Operating Officer at Summit LA; Jonathan Mattson, Director of Business Development at Baker & Hostetler; and Catherine Zinn, Chief Client Officer at Orrick.

It’s a growing trend among large firms, and we’re now starting to see it among smaller firms as well. By legal sales, we mean a non-lawyer who is client-facing – someone who is going out and opening doors for the firm’s partners and other attorneys to bring in new business. Twenty percent of the Am Law 100 has at least one person in this capacity.

When it comes to having a salesperson, firms need to think about the role of sales versus marketing. It is generally agreed that marketing concerns itself with creating awareness; sales is about creating relationships.

Sometimes there’s a tension between marketing and sales because the salesperson has more visibility and you can draw a more direct correlation between bringing in business (or the salesperson opening the door to bring in business) than you can with marketing.

There’s this tension because marketing may feel that sales is getting all the glory.

This panel emphasized the fact that sales could not do their job without marketing and that the marketing engine always needs to be going in order for sales to be successful.

Sales can also be in competition with the partners in terms of generating new business. The salesperson needs to be somebody (and this gets into the terms of what makes a successful salesperson) who is resilient, willing to be in the shadows and willing to let the partners have the glory. They need to be energized by making other people successful.

It’s difficult to say what’s going to make a successful salesperson in a legal environment. Some have industry backgrounds, but that doesn’t necessarily make them successful salespeople. They not only have to be a good salesperson, they have to be someone who can create humor, who can lighten the situation and be resilient. And be someone who, when networking, poses “intentional” questions that draw people out, such as “What’s your role at your firm?” and “What brings you here today?

Effective legal salespeople also understand that research is the gateway to business development. Knowing as much as possible about prospects and clients prior to meeting with them can help direct sales conversations and is critical to bringing in new business and expanding current relationships.

In terms of compensation, there’s no fee-sharing in law firms, so the compensation is usually some sort of bonus program (typically 20%-30%) above salary.

To Get Results, Woo the Gator Brain

Going before a judge for parole? Your chances of getting what you want will increase if the judge has a full stomach, according to a study done in Israel. No matter how much we’d like to think we make decisions based on critical, rational thinking, it’s often – more often than we’d like to think – based on our gator brain, the reactive, emotional aspect of our thinking which is a remnant of our reptilian heritage. How we can woo the gator (as in alligator) brain was the subject of Yale Professor Zoe Chance’s keynote at the recent LMA conference.

To capture this part of the mind, we need to focus on three things. First is ease: You have to make it easy for people to do business with you; make it easy for them to say “yes.”  Think about how you can eliminate obstacles, and recognize that it’s not just about price.  Amazon isn’t the cheapest around; it’s just the easiest around. And keep humor in mind, as humor is great way to get past resistance.

Attention is also important in terms of wooing the gator brain. No matter what we say about multitasking, the gator brain can really only focus on one thing at a time. How you capture attention at the moment of decision-making is critical. Consider the “when” – when is somebody going to be making a decision about using my service – and grab their attention at that time.

Implementation questions are also important and engender commitment.  Zoe used the example of exercising and how implementation increased when people were asked questions, such as “When will you exercise?” “Where will you exercise?” and most importantly, “What will you do if you an encounter an obstacle to getting it done?”

Lastly, to get the emotional brain’s attention you need to foster trust. Not only do you need to build trust, you need to understand how not to lose it and how to fix it if you do. Study after study shows that clients and customers can become even more loyal after an “oopsie,” if you implement a strong save. In addition, an important question to ask is, “What would it take…What would it take for you to switch providers?” This empowers the prospect, which can shed a positive light on you and your service.

Project vs. Program

Projects and programs are not the same thing. A project is something that has a beginning and an end. It’s execution-oriented and usually has a lower-level person assigned to it. A program, on the other hand, is usually ongoing and evolving with the eyes of senior management on it. This according to Kalev Peekna, Chief Strategist at One North Interactive, at the recent LMA conference.

When you think about projects and programs in this way, you can re-think how to scope budgets. More and more professional firms are moving to quarterly as opposed to annual budgets as they’re more predictable in terms of the amount of money being spent. It also means you don’t have to go to management with a big ask once a year. It’s easier (and more palatable) to go in for smaller amounts, quarterly.

When thinking about your program and budgets, it’s wise to scope to the budget – not budget to the scope. This means you’re looking at programs in terms of what you can do for the amount of money you have during a specific timeframe instead of thinking you can’t get started because you don’t have enough money for the grand plan, or having to abandon a grand plan, leaving it unfinished and ineffective because of an empty wallet.

 

Digital Strategy: You’re in it for the Long Run

Not everyone is an early adopter of the latest business trend, but if you’re still in the mindset of “Nobody’s going to look for my firm online” or “Do I really need a LinkedIn profile?” you’d better stand aside because the world is going to steamroll right over you.

To be competitive today, every firm needs to build a long-term, ever-evolving digital strategy – words of wisdom from Kalev Peekna, Chief Strategist at One North Interactive, at the recent LMA conference. Whether for your website, search engine optimization or social media, it’s vital that your digital strategy and related tactics are always on a continuum of improvement.

One of the main characteristics of a long-term digital strategy is endurance. Think about your website. Websites are evolutionary; they’re never finished. Peekna advised thinking of your digital marketing in “release” stages. For example, finishing the Herculean task of getting a new website up is Release 1.0, and you deserve kudos. However, take a deep breath and start on Release 2.0 – the incremental refinements that are going to tell your firm’s story today. Add new case studies and success stories, and consider what graphics you can add, etc., then on to Release 3.0. Also, accept the fact that the life cycle of a website is much shorter than before.

When it comes to your digital strategy, you need to think about the future.  People invest in the future, not in the past.  Embrace a long-term vision for an ongoing digital marketing strategy. You’ll see the benefits in your client relationships and in your firm’s bottom line.

 

Best-in-Breed Website Bios

You have about eight seconds and 150 characters for your prospects to decide if they are going to continue reading your attorney biography or click to another page. In an engaging LMA conference presentation, Anne Heathcock and Mary Trice of Winston & Strawn reported on what works now in biographies.

 Your Photo

Make your photo shine so that it immediately engages the viewer. It should be relatively large and not just your standard head shot. You want your photo to show personality and warmth, i.e., trustworthiness, and to convey that you’re someone the prospect wants to work with. The fact that so many lawyer headshots are still point ‘n shoot gives you the opportunity to strongly differentiate yourself.

 Scan-ability  

Your bio needs to be a fast read. This is so the reader can get a quick snapshot of who you are and your area of expertise, and then determine what else they’d like to learn about you and your firm. That doesn’t mean short; it just means use headings to break the copy into sections so that it is scan-able.

 Extended Profile

A quick read gives people a sense of who you are and what your firm is about. When prospects want to learn more, you can have them click to an expanded version. Remember not to repeat anything people have already read in the quick-read version; don’t waste those precious 150 characters and don’t waste their time. And no more “Mr. Smith” or “Smith.” Today, we’re on a first-name basis.

 The Story

You want to keep in mind that people are not necessarily going to come to your website through the home page, especially when they are doing a search on a particular lawyer or a particular area. They’re going to come in directly to your bio. So to some degree, your bio has to tell your firm’s story as well as your story.

Print Version

Think in terms of how your bio will look when it’s printed out. Prospects often print out several bios and compare them side by side. They may be comparing education, areas of expertise, experience, etc. You don’t want to lose the beauty contest because of poor readability and graphics.

Visuals

Visuals are one way to make your bio stand up well against your competition. Whether headlines, graphics, icons or even colors, think about how and where you can incorporate visuals; for example, add school logos to your education section. They’ll make your bio (and website) more interesting, easier to scan and easier to communicate your information.

 

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