Jan 25, 2009

Why Lawyers Should Consider Incorporating Video Into Their Online Marketing Strategy

You know the old maxim, a picture is worth 1,000 words? These days, online video may well be worth 1,000 site visits.

According to a recent article from the International Herald Tribune, Internet users are increasingly turning to video-rich sites like YouTube to locate information rather than conventional, text-based search engines like Yahoo! or Google.  As a result, consumption of online video has soared, with 146 million Americans watching video online, twice as many as 20 months ago.  More importantly, searches on YouTube edged out those on Yahoo!, and the site now ranks as the number 2 search engine behind Google.  

These trends show that lawyers who rely on the Internet to market a practice should consider incorporating video into their online marketing strategy.  However, video carries with it plenty of other advantages besides SEO.  A video gives clients a peek at your demeanor and personality, and establishes that you're a real person.  At a time when recent scandals like the Madoff Ponzi scheme have shattered public confidence in professionals, video can help re-build trust. 

Still, despite the obvious benefits of video, for some lawyers who are just now creating an online presence, the thought of including video is likely overwhelming.  Other lawyers may feel discouraged, figuring that once again, the same deep-pocketed firms that dominate Yellow Pages and television advertising will have the resources to implement video marketing and once again gain an overwhelming advantage.

The good news is that even if you're on a limited budget, you can still experience the benefits of video.  Though a professional videographer may be outside your price range, you can generate a reasonably good quality video on a home video camera.  With good lighting and an external microphone, the sound and image quality will suffice.  Some lawyers, such as video guru Gerry Oginski, use Mac-based tools to edit their videos, though most PCs also support video editing applications.  If you need editing assistance, check out local colleges with media programs or websites like e-lance where you may be able to find economically priced editors.

So what should you say on your video?  That's entirely up to you.  Some lawyers use video as an opportunity to simply introduce themselves and their firm to site visitors.  Other lawyers try to make videos more educational -- for example, by offering explanations on how a case is filed or why a client might need legal representation.   Practice what you'll say a few times, but avoid teleprompters or notes.  Ultimately, aim for sounding as you would if you were meeting your viewers in person.  

Exploring online video sooner rather than later will give you a first-mover advantage and enable you to distinguish yourself from other lawyers, most of whom have not yet adopted video.  Why not get started now?