1 = Lowest Possible Score; 5 = Highest Possible Score
Attorney Blake A. Payne of the Law Office of Blake A. Payne in Jasper, Alabama, is a sincere appearing, straightforward and down-to-earth human being. He appears natural and I can understand why someone would want to call him for their legal problem. The video has typical B-roll footage of diplomas, scenes of people walking through a law office, and nice piano music playing in the background. The sidebar describes this attorney handling everything from criminal to civil litigation.
Interestingly, the video was shot looking up toward the attorney, which I typically frown upon. However, in this video, the camera angle is not so severe as to make you feel inferior when Payne starts to talk. He describes his firm with three words "Justice, honor, and integrity." You might think this was a typical play on your emotions or your sense of justice, but as you continue to listen to the video you realize that he really is sincere.
The lighting is a little unusual, and there appears to be almost a spotlight directly on his face with much of the office background appearing dark. The video even shows him walking into his office, and with his grayish hair, easy smile and a quick wave of his hand to his office staff, you get the sense that this guy is friendly, approachable and an "aw shucks" kind of person.
This video doesn't spend any time explaining how he can help you solve your legal problem. Rather, with his smooth and affable manner he imparts a sense of trust that you could never get with a simple photograph. The video runs one minute and 18 seconds, including eight seconds showing the video equivalent of a business card — not what I would recommend to persuade a viewer to call you now.
I will say that this particular video happens to be one of the better videos that YellowPages.com has created. They typically hire a video crew to come in and take B-roll footage of your office and you, and throw those scenes into your video on a regular basis. If you look at their YouTube channel, they boast over 13,000 different videos. A quick glance at these videos reveal every business under the sun that can be included in the yellow pages directory. Unfortunately, for most lawyers who choose to use YellowPages.com to create their videos, they almost always use the same type of template for each video. That's bad when you want to stand out from the crowd. You are limited to two options: (1) a video in which you appear and discuss your firm, or (2) photos and scenes of you in your office with a narrator talking about you and your firm.
One major problem with using YellowPages.com is that they brand the video, not with your own Web site information, but rather with their own logo. That is totally annoying. To make matters even worse, your own Web site is never listed. Rather, you are taken to generic directory site. That's bad.
The inherent problem with creating videos with a directory site is that your video is indistinguishable from thousands of other firms and competitors in your area. Although the sidebar gives a brief description of the lawyer and his firm, clicking on the available link only takes you to the Yellow Pages directory. You then have to click on a separate link for the lawyer's Web site. Clicking on Payne's directory listing takes me to a basic Web site designed by — yes, you guessed it — the same folks who presumably create the yellow pages ads. The sidebar doesn't even have a direct phone number for the lawyer.
Just as with yellow pages advertising in which the marketing rep basically hands you off to some generic design team to create your yellow pages ad, the same holds true for these video productions. Unless your demeanor and presentation is so distinct, as here with Mr. Payne, you need to have your own individual video to set you apart from all of your competitors. I would strongly advise staying away from the videos that are narrated which are nothing more than slideshows or extended commercials.
In most all YellowPages.com attorney videos, the attorneys are left to talk about themselves throughout the entire video. None of the videos that I have seen through this company provide a viewer with information about how you can help them solve their problems. These are not educational videos. Rather, these videos appear to be nothing more than an extension of traditional advertising by saying "Call me because I created this video." Not exactly a compelling reason to pick up the phone and call you.
Also, I have yet to see this production company create series of videos for each of their clients and customers so that someone interested in a particular lawyer can gain a better understanding of how their experiences can help you as a potential client. A one minute video talking about yourself simply provides a Web site viewer with no information with which to make an intelligent decision about whether to pick up the phone and call you. Alabama lawyer Payne appears to rise above this restrictive format.
Tip #1: To Be Different, Be Yourself
Stay away from generic formulas. Many times the key to persuading a viewer to call you is precisely because you don't fit into the typical mold. Remember, you want to stand out from the crowd. If you want to use YellowPages.com because they're simple, easy to use, and your single one minute video is included with your listing fee in a useless directory, feel free to use them at your peril. Just don't be upset if you don't get many calls.
Tip #2: Enough About "Me, Me, Me!"
Stop talking about yourself! Instead talk about the topics that people care about. Stop talking about things you want to tell people. Most companies like YellowPages.com fail to recognize this distinction. These marketing reps are not lawyers who work in the trenches each day. They don't have an insider's view of what a potential client looks for in an attorney. Rather, this way of thinking is the traditional yellow pages mindset that has forced thousands and thousands of lawyers to part with millions of their hard earned dollars and see very little result.
Tip #3: Do the Opposite of What Everyone Else Does
If you want to learn how to stand out from the crowd, stop doing what everybody else is doing! Take a look at the videos online for the specific keywords in your geographic area by going to YouTube and searching for attorneys in your specific area of law in your State. Watch those videos. See if you can pick up a common theme in the good videos. Look critically at how the video was made, and also at the content. Then, when you have identified a few attorneys whose videos you really like, pick up the phone to call them and ask them what video company they used to create their videos.
Don't be surprised to learn that some of these lawyers don't use any video company at all. Instead, like me, they have learned how to create video on their own and provide an educational message to help prospective viewers get to know them and begin to trust them before they ever walk into their office.
Tip #4: Beware of Marketing Vultures
Don't let the video marketing vultures steal your hard-earned dollars by promising the moon and taking your $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 or more to create four or five short video clips. There are better ways to get this done while still continuing to maintain quality, integrity, and your ethics. If you find an attorney whose videos you like, you might suggest asking the attorney to videotape you on a monthly basis — for a fee of course.
Attorney Payne rises above the typical format used because of who he is and how he presents himself. Most attorneys cannot do this and will fall into the bottomless pit of Internet ether. Set yourself apart by creating a unique, individual video that answers questions. Don't talk about yourself, as so many lawyers try to do.
Finally, tell your yellow pages marketing rep to get their logo and name off your video. Do you really want to provide them with free advertising? The goal of your video is to show who you are, and to educate. Putting your marketing company boldly in your video, on your video, and in the sidebar does nothing to help you market yourself.
Till next time, see you on video!
The Back Bench
Certified Family Law Specialist and online video producer Kelly Chang Rickert says: "I give Blake a B- on the video. Although it wasn't terribly done, the video didn't do well to promote him. He admits to being a "general" practice lawyer, which means the video doesn't target anyone. In addition, there is a glaringly annoying YellowPages.com logo at the bottom the entire time, which is somewhat synomomous with "cheesy marketing"."
Lawyer, journalist, and legal media consultant Robert Ambrogi says: "This video projects Blake Payne as the Mister Rogers of the legal profession — soft-spoken and sincere. This video is quite effective in portraying Payne as someone you can trust in a time of need. When he says he is guided by principles of "justice, honor and integrity," you can't help but believe him. The visuals and transitions are all nicely done. My one gripe would be the YellowPages.com text that stays on the screen throughout the video — it cheapens an otherwise solid effort."
TechnoLawyer publisher and online video producer Neil Squillante says: "Nice job Blake. You're a YouTube natural. But next time pay a little more so that you can eliminate the YellowPages.com logo from your video. Also, it's 2009 — your Web site should reside at your own domain name."
YouTube offers law firms a free advertising platform with tens of millions of potential clients. But a poor video can hurt more than help. In this column, lawyer and online video expert Gerry Oginski reviews and rates the latest law firm videos. A panel of fellow experts (The Back Bench) add to Gerry's reviews with pithy remarks. We link to each new YouLaw column and all other noteworthy law firm marketing articles in our weekly BlawgWorld newsletter, which is free. Please subscribe now.
About Gerry Oginski
New York trial lawyer Gerry Oginski has created more than 150 informational online videos for his medical malpractice and personal injury practice. Realizing that most video producers don't have a deep understanding of the practice of law and what potential clients look for, Gerry launched The Lawyers' Video Studio, which provides free tutorials and video production services. If you need help producing a video, please contact Gerry now.
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