Video Marketing Strategy: What Law Firms Need to Know (Part 1)

by JD Supra Perspectives
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For many law firm marketers, video is a topic they would rather not discuss.

It is often regarded as a high-cost, uncertain-ROI endeavor that is difficult to master and integrate into a firm’s broader marketing strategy. 

But understanding why and how video can and should be embraced by law firms to increase brand awareness, generate website traffic, burnish thought leadership, and support business development efforts is an important discussion that every law firm marketing department should be engaging in. Why? Because video, unlike many other fickle marketing trends, is not going away. In fact, video is only increasing in importance.

...video, unlike many other fickle marketing trends, is not going away...

There are a number of reasons for the growing dominance of video content online.

  • According to Cisco, by 2021 over 80% of consumer internet traffic will be video.
  • Adding video content to your website increases SEO rankings. It should come as no surprise that Google continues to favor video content in search results since its acquisition of YouTube. According to Comscore, adding a video to a website can increase the chance of a front page Google result by 53 times.
  • More platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, are prioritizing video content and facilitating broader network distribution of video content versus written content.
  • Mobile device use continues to explode, and video is the medium of choice on mobile. Over half of video content is viewed on mobile devices and 92% of mobile video viewers share content with others.

Many other factors support the argument that video should become a pillar of a law firm’s marketing strategy, such as the fact that video empowers firms to make an emotional connection with their audience and engage in more powerful brand storytelling. Video taps into both the art and science of online marketing and the Internet’s discovery infrastructure. Bottom-line: It’s time to make video part of your firm’s marketing mix.

Avoid These Mistakes

Many law firms experiment with video, but few have made it a strategic marketing priority. Some of the traps that firms commonly fall into when getting started with video marketing include:

  • Creating a series of one-off videos that are not part of a larger integrated campaign;
  • Spending huge amounts on a single video project;
  • Using a single video format, such as attorneys delivering extended, on-screen monologues; 
  • Failing to edit a video for different distribution platforms—for example failing to edit a five-minute YouTube video down to sixty seconds for social media consumption;
  • Turning videos into transparent sales pitches instead of opportunities to educate, inform, and inspire;
  • Assuming that B2B video must be “sophisticated” and “professional” (i.e., boring) rather than lively and engaging;
  • Failing to target a single market with a single message, and instead cramming a video with multiple complex messages.

Video is no different than other strategic marketing initiatives. It requires understanding who you’re trying to communicate to, what you want to say, and the best means of reaching your audience.

Video is not magic—all of the old rules of marketing (focus, message, targeting) apply. It just happens to be one of the best means to capture attention online at this moment in time. Accordingly, if you can avoid the aforementioned pitfalls, and apply an equally strategic and creative approach, video can become an integral part of your firm’s online business development pipeline.

To Make a Great Video, Start with Strategy

If you’re looking to join the ranks of professional services firms that are effectively using video to generate brand awareness and aid in business development, you need to begin with a strategic approach. Rather than producing one-off videos that are not part of a broader strategy, consider how video can be leveraged as part of an integrated marketing campaign to promote and market a particular practice or product offering. (An exception to the “one-off approach” would be if a video, or videos, are being produced for a firm’s website for a specific purpose, such as to highlight culture for a recruiting page.) 

Video is no different than other strategic marketing initiatives.

Consider a law firm whose healthcare practice group is interested in making a big splash online about its new HIPAA Compliance Audit service. To market this service effectively, it should think about how to build an integrated marketing campaign to spread its message in the most targeted, clear, and cost-effective manner possible.

A strategic approach to marketing this new service would begin by defining: (1) the target audience (i.e., the potential buyers of this service), (2) the challenges faced by this audience (i.e., the risks of non-compliance), and (3) how the firm’s service addresses these challenges.

The next step would be to craft a compelling marketing message that is solution-oriented and speaks the target market’s language, and then determine the best means to spread that message. Oftentimes, video should be part of the marketing mix, and should supplement—not necessarily replace—other forms of marketing such as advertising and written content. Indeed, by understanding who you are targeting, you can better understand how to deliver the right mix of content, on the right platforms, at the right cadence.

Assuming that our hypothetical law firm is targeting senior healthcare executives with authority to make buying decisions, then video is an effective means to target this audience. Indeed, statistics from as far back as 2015 show that 75% of business executives watch work-related videos at least once a week, and 59% of senior executives say that if both text and video are available, they prefer to watch video.

Choose the Right Video Format

Once you’ve determined that video will be part of an integrated campaign, it’s important to determine what type(s) of video content to produce depending on your specific objectives. There are many different video content styles, such as educational and docu-style traditional video footage and animated explainer videos, that can be used to educate and inform your audience. Some videos feature text only, while others have narration. Videos often combine different styles in order to increase interest and engagement.

...the buyer’s journey often involves an extended period of nurturing that educates, explains, overcomes objections, and reinforces the prospect’s decision to turn to your firm for a solution

Before determining the right video format(s) for your integrated campaign, consider another strategic question: What is a prospective client’s journey to go from awareness of what you’re trying to sell, to buying decision? In other words: How can video play a role in helping the prospect move along your marketing funnel?

In the context of selling sophisticated legal services, the buyer’s journey often involves an extended period of nurturing that educates, explains, overcomes objections, and reinforces the prospect’s decision to turn to your firm for a solution to the challenges they face. To better contextualize how video can help this nurturing process along, and the types of video formats that would be effective in this context,  let’s return to our HIPAA Compliance example. 

As part of an integrated campaign, let’s assume that our hypothetical firm has, during its strategic marketing planning process, defined the following:

  • Target Market: Senior executives at hospitals and health systems
  • Challenges Faced by Audience: High risks of non-compliance; lack of knowledge about requirements; lack of internal resources to identify and remediate problems
  • Solutions to Challenges: Extensive expertise in HIPAA compliance; proven process; cost-effective delivery

Armed with this strategy, the power of video marketing can be unleashed to shepherd potential buyers along the firm’s sales funnel.

  • Top of the Funnel: At the beginning stages of an integrated campaign for a new service offering, the goal should be to generate awareness. In this case, effective video content to build awareness of the problem could include an educational video featuring top experts at the firm addressing the risks of non-compliance and the challenges of coming into compliance for hospitals and health systems.
  • Middle of the Funnel: At this stage, the objective is to build upon the awareness generated with the first video, or series of videos, and to get the newfound audience to know, like, and trust you. The way this can be accomplished by our hypothetical law firm is by describing how the challenges the audience faces can be addressed by the firm’s HIPAA Compliance solution. An animated video, which explains how the firm’s “Proven Five-Step Process” results in HIPAA compliance would be effective to build trust and address the prospect’s needs.
  • Bottom of the Funnel: The goal at the final stage of a video marketing initiative is to reinforce the prospect’s decision. Even when a prospect believes that a firm has a solution to the problems they face, there is still resistance to be overcome. The firm must battle inertia and second-guessing to get to a signature on an engagement agreement. Reinforcing videos featuring case studies and testimonials from others in the industry who have used the firm’s service can help overcome resistance to buying. These forms of social proof can help alleviate buyer anxiety.

Putting the Pieces Together

There is a great deal more to consider in order to plan and execute an effective law firm video marketing campaign, and I will address these issues in an upcoming post. By way of preview:

  • As the foregoing discussion regarding marketing funnels suggests, it’s not only the format of videos that is important, but also the cadence in which they are released, and the platforms on which they are promoted. 
  • In addition, with each video you should be trying to prompt specific action from the prospect. The desired action is often getting click throughs to a web page that is optimized with additional content about what you are selling. 
  • Because it’s difficult to control who sees your video content—social media platforms only allow for so much targeting—you should be trying to capture email addresses of those who visit your optimized web page so that you can communicate to your prospects more directly via email marketing. Email capture can be accomplished by offering visitors a more comprehensive resource, such as a whitepaper or an invitation to an in-depth webinar, that draws them deeper into your ecosystem.
  • Effective video marketing requires a team approach, and the pulling together of people with unique skill-sets in strategy, copywriting, editing, videography, animation, and project management. It’s easier than ever to produce video, which means that there is more of it than ever online. To cut through the noise, video marketing requires a high level of creative execution.

Video marketing is thriving online, but in the world of professional services it’s still a relatively nascent tactic which is often disconnected from a larger strategy. This presents big opportunities for law firms looking to make an impact in the mobile-first, digital-first world in which they’re competing.

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[Jay Harrington is the owner of Harrington Communications, a leading digital marketing agency for law, consulting, and accounting firms. He specializes in helping law firms build engaging websites and digital marketing strategies through creative design and storytelling. Jay is author of the recently released book The Essential Associate: Step Up, Stand Out, and Rise to the Top as a Young Lawyer. In 2016, his first book, One of a Kind: A Proven Path to a Profitable Law Practice, was published. Jay is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, and previously he was a commercial litigator and corporate bankruptcy attorney at Skadden Arps and Foley & Lardner.]

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