The following guest post is from Gerry Oginski, a Mac-using medical malpractice & personal injury trial lawyer in Great Neck, New York:
As the internet has taken hold and more lawyers have recognized the benefits of marketing online, one marketing tool is defining the standard of advertising on the web. Online videos. It is the newest, hottest tool available for lawyers to communicate their message on the web. Admittedly, attorney videos are one-way communication, but they offer significant advantages over every other advertising medium.
Most attorneys have failed to understand the true value of video and how it can improve their chances of a potential client calling them over their competitor. Legal marketing experts agree that the sooner you start to see the value of video marketing, the sooner you’ll see the results. Legal marketing expert Larry Bodine recently commented that putting video on your website is “…a great opportunity to present how you look, how you talk, what you’re like, and make yourself more attractive to clients. It’s a great business-getting technique.” The key to encouraging a website visitor to call you, is with video. Static websites and fancy graphics just do not cut it any more, and fail to distinguish yourself from your competitor. Tom Foster, CEO of Foster Web Marketing says “If you get in early by putting video on your website, you can take advantage of good search placement on the video search engines.”
If you thought that internet video was for the MTV crowd, you’d be wrong. If you thought that video for your website was only for geeky techno-lawyers, you’d be wrong too. If you thought that putting a video of yourself online was useless, you’d definitely be wrong. In fact, Google thinks you’re so wrong that they recently paid one billion dollars to buy a video sharing site called YouTube. To give you an idea about the reach that internet video has, consider a ten minute video clip by comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham: his video has been viewed over 60 million times. Most attorney videos are viewed in the hundreds of times, but it shows the potential that video has. Plus, if done correctly, does not cost you anything more if it is watched 100 times or 100,000 times.
In the pre-internet age, lawyer advertising was limited to television, radio, yellow pages, billboards, newspapers and magazines. Since the 1970′s when the Supreme Court of the United States decided that lawyers could advertise (Bates v. State Bar of Arizona), the general public has been bombarded with lawyer ads. Every jurisdiction in every state has their own peculiar set of ethical rules regarding what lawyers can and cannot say in their advertisements. Cheesy lawyer advertisements have been the bane of late-night talk shows and comedy shows for decades.
Lawyers trying to get a foothold into their particular market often looked upon lawyer advertising as a necessary evil. Many felt it was beneath them to advertise. Not many lawyers wanted to be in the same category as a salesman looking to pitch his latest slicer and dicer. Traditional advertising is costly. Lawyers often complained that the cost to advertise in each medium were prohibitive. The ads themselves were not able to be viewed repeatedly for the same cost, and unless a potential client was looking for an attorney at that moment, they would likely ignore the daily messages they were inundated with.
The New Millennia :: The Internet
With the dawn of the internet, attorneys began to develop web sites as an ancillary way to “get their name” into the public eye. Many New York lawyers felt, and still do, that they’d rather busy themselves practicing law, rather than marketing their services. The common thinking was “Hire a marketing person to do all that advertising for us.” The problem was that most marketing people had no experience with developing web sites for lawyers. Many did not know what a website could be used for and how it could be advantageous to a law firm. The early lawyer web sites consisted of only a few pages and held little information besides your law firm name, and the type of law that you practiced. It gave no real information and did nothing to distinguish you from your competitor down the street. It was analogous to a downed pilot in a war movie who was obligated to give only his name, rank and serial number. Those bland websites did little to encourage a potential client to call.
With the advent of interesting and focused lawyer websites, it is simply not enough anymore to have static websites with fancy graphics and photos. How does your website with nice pictures of tall buildings and cityscapes and mean-looking lawyers with their arms folded across their chests, like the Knights of King Arthur’s Court preparing for battle, differentiate you from your colleagues? The reality is that your website is probably not very different from your main competitors. Maybe your website uses different colors; maybe you have a different template and design; maybe your font is different. Put aside the design and focus on the substance. What is it that you are trying to tell a prospective client who is searching for an attorney online? What information do you offer that your competitor does not? How can a prospective client make an intelligent choice about whether to pick up the phone and call you instead of the biggest law firm on the block? Does your website distinguish you and your firm from every other law firm practicing in your specialty? If it does, you have a distinct advantage. If it doesn’t, you need to look critically at what you are doing in order to improve your online presence.
Google :: Why You Need To Know How It Works
Today’s internet has exploded with creative and useful ways to educate and inform millions of viewers. A “Google search” has made it commonplace to search for anything and anybody with a click of a button. Google has cornered the market on creating the easiest and arguably most powerful search tool on the internet today. Why is this important for lawyers looking to market their services and their law firm? It’s not only important, it’s vital for a lawyer to understand how Google searches work. Only by understanding the concepts of how a search engine works, can a law firm take advantage of it with video marketing.
Typically, a potential client will do a Google search if they are looking for an attorney online. Obviously there are many search engines, but Google’s popularity cannot and should not be ignored. The results that pop up on Google will likely determine if your website will be clicked on. If you are on page 10 of a Google search result, it is unlikely your website will be found. The same reasoning applies if you had a full page ad in the yellow pages and were at page 30. The yellow pages representative always managed to explain that even if you were at page 30, “just one client” would be enough to pay for your ad. Unfortunately, the yellow pages rep never explained why a potential client would call your firm, 30 pages from the front, instead of the other 29 lawyers in front of you. However, if your website comes up on page one of Google, there is a good chance that a website viewer will click on your site. Unfortunately, with all the competition today, that alone does not get a potential viewer to call you.
Once a viewer actually clicks on your site, what do they find? Is the website static and filled with fancy graphics or flash media that does nothing to differentiate your site from all the others? What information do you provide that will cause a viewer to want to pick up the phone and ask you questions? The answer according to Gerry Oginski, a medical malpractice and personal injury attorney in Great Neck, is video. Oginski has created over 100 educational video tips on medical malpractice and personal injury law in New York using only his iMac and iMovie ’06. He posts them on his website, and uploads them to video sharing sites such as YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo and AOL.
Benefits of Video For The Practicing Attorney
Millions of viewers go online every day to watch video clips about every topic imaginable. From ‘how-to’ videos where you can learn to build a house, to bizarre videos of no-talent singers pretending to be Tom Cruise in their dining room. From sports to politics to technology, there’s a video online to steal a few moments of your time.
Video allows the attorney not only to convey their marketing message, but allows viewers to see, hear, and determine whether the lawyer inspires confidence and knows what he is talking about. Video allows for more than a 30 second commercial that screams at you. Online video gives lawyers the opportunity to explain to viewers how they are different from every other lawyer who is competing with them.
Video Is The Key To Show You Are Different
How does video distinguish you from everyone else? By creating a personal bond with your viewer. Admittedly, it’s a one-way conversation, but it allows the viewer to see you, hear you, and judge for themselves whether you sound confident and intelligent enough to want to call you.
So far, the biggest users of online video for law firms have been personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers. These attorneys have gotten in on the ground floor and are just now learning how to optimize their videos so that the major search engines identify the videos and improve their search engine ranking for their website. That’s the golden key that every attorney who advertises online appears to strive for. To be able to say that “Out of 4 million websites, Google thinks my site is #1 in their organic search rankings,” is indeed, a feat to strive for and emulate.
Why a Potential Client Would Call You
If a potential client is searching for a lawyer online, what would make them choose one lawyer over another with the same credentials? You each have a website. You each have similar experience. You each charge basically the same for similar services. So, how are you different, and how can you communicate that to a nameless, faceless visitor to your website?
A video that tells a visitor who you are and welcomes them, has already gained brownie points. What should you talk about? If you talk about how great you are and how amazing your credentials are, does the viewer really care? Or is the viewer more interested in how you can solve their pressing legal problem? If you can answer their unasked question through a video, not only will you have scored all the points, you can bet that person will call you and not your colleague down the street.
Generating Half The Calls To His Office
Oginski says “These educational videos, together with my informative website have caused my phone to ring. In fact, they generate half of all the calls to my office.” He explains that this is a dramatic increase from the previous year when he only had his website online.” Using a Mac is the key to creating, producing, editing and uploading my videos. Once you learn how to use iMovie, making educational videos is simple. I wouldn’t use anything else to edit my videos.”
Virginia Personal Injury Trial Lawyer Ben Glass, who teaches marketing to lawyers all over the country says that after viewing Oginski’s website and the videos he created, agrees that “It’s no longer good enough to just have a message that you ‘shout’ out to consumers via the Yellow Pages, TV, Radio or the Internet. The informational videos that Gerry Oginski has created uses cutting-edge marketing ideas and combines them with the latest technology in order to ‘start a conversation’ with potential clients. That’s the key to getting a website visitor to call.”
What happens to those lawyers who choose not to use online video? Oginski believes that “those lawyers will lose the chance to get excellent placement on the video search engines. Those same lawyers lose the ability to improve their search engine rankings, because video clearly helps improve their website rankings. Lawyers who fail to create useful videos lose the opportunity to connect with their website visitors and distinguish themselves from all the other lawyers out there competing for the same business. Those lawyers lose the advantage of letting a viewer get to know them and trust them before they ever walk into their office.”
About Gerry Oginski, Esq.
Gerry Oginski is an experienced medical malpractice & personal injury trial lawyer practicing law in New York since 1988. He has created, produced and uploaded over 100 educational videos online about New York medical malpractice, wrongful death and personal injury law. Gerry’s popular website (www.oginski-law.com) consistently comes up #1 in the organic search results when you do a Google search for ”New York Medical Malpractice Lawyer.” Gerry’s video blog can be seen at medicalmalpracticetutorial.blogspot.com.