This month Ian Bardorf steps into the interview chair as part of our ongoing series of interviewing people who are doing interesting things in the social media marketing space.
Ian runs a search marketing company called Bardorf Marketing. What I find interesting about Ian is thta he is having success using social media marketing sites like YouTube to help attorneys generate new clients.
Ian, you run a search marketing company Bardorf Legal Marketing. Can you tell me about your company?
Bardorf Legal marketing is a full-service online marketing agency that helps attorneys and law firms succeed in a changing world. My team is dedicated to implementing the best approach for an attorney’s specific area of expertise and location. We believe the most effective Internet marketing is local and we design campaigns that are targeted to a particular region and practice area to give maximum visibility.
Your company focuses on the legal market. Can you tell me what you are doing to help Attorneys?
The Internet is quickly replacing yellow pages, television, and radio as the preferred source for people in need of a lawyer, yet many attorneys simply don’t have the time or the expertise to reach new clients online. We help them effectively present their experience and credentials using all the tools available online to gain new clients and grow their business so that they can get back to practicing law.
Is there a difference between what small firms and larger firms are doing online?
There’s no difference between what small and large firms can do online. Technology levels the playing field and enables bigger and smaller players to compete online in ways they can’t offline. It’s not like if you spend more money online you’ll get different results. It’s just doing the right things.
The difference lies between the firms that understand the value of online marketing and those that don’t — some firms of all sizes “get it.” The only difference is that large firms might have an in-house marketing team focused on it. But smaller firms can easily hire someone to help them produce a video, get blog content, create a Facebook page, etc. You don’t need a dedicated team in-house to be successful, you just have to be in the game.
Are you seeing attorneys embrace the Internet, and specifically social media marketing?
Within the last few years more attorneys are embracing the Internet and the ones that do are receiving the early benefits of being trailblazers. The yellow pages are dinosaurs; TV commercials are expensive and may not reach their geographic target audience. Internet marketing is more cost-effective and connects attorneys with prospects who are actively searching for a solution.
The challenge is how to use the Internet effectively and how to get results sooner rather than later. The other issue attorneys face is weeding through the noise to determine what’s a good marketing investment and what’s not. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Some marketing firms claim they can guarantee an attorney will appear on the first page of the search engine results. Some charge $200 to $400 a month to set up a service that’s actually free on Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
Blogs and social media are marketing channels that cannot be ignored in today’s competitive marketplace. Attorneys realize this is where they need to be and they also acknowledge that it can be very overwhelming to get there. In general they are smart, highly educated and savvy individuals who are now getting up to speed in a new arena.
Part 2: How Bardorf Legal Marketing clients are using social media tactics
One of your social media tactics has been the use video. Why did you decide to focus on that tactic?
Online video is one of the most effective and efficient ways to communicate your marketing message to your audience. This visual and dynamic format gives clients another way to interact with a firm and is a great opportunity for attorneys to introduce themselves to a new audience. The right campaign can quickly generate referrals, friends, fans, and followers. With little or no media expense, depending on where it’s posted, video can drive action, generating qualified leads with a lower cost for client acquisition and higher ROI.
The specific benefits for attorneys are that when someone has a legal issue and is searching for representation it can be intimidating to pick up the phone when you don’t know the lawyer or may not even know exactly what your issue is. It’s much easier to watch a short clip and develop a good feeling about that attorney before calling. A 20 to 30 second introduction can make a positive impression. My clients tell me people say, “I saw your video and I thought you were the right person to call.”
I see that you created a YouTube channel. How important is that for companies to do?
Just over five years old, YouTube now has approximately 2 million searches daily, and it is a great place for marketers in all areas to reach their target market by using video assets to increase awareness.
I post all the video I shoot of my clients on my YouTube channel for two reasons. First, by having YouTube host and serve the videos there is less resource drain on my clients’ servers and sites. It’s also designed to allow easy sharing, which means the video can be embedded in all sorts of online properties without having to host it.
The second reason is for search engine optimization. By creating an optimal channel for attorneys in all different geographic and practice areas I’m generating traffic and quality links back to their sites.
In addition to YouTube, what other video sites do your videos appear on?
What are some of your key learnings in developing video for your clients?
I’ve learned that there is a very positive response to video from potential clients – both my clients and the attorneys’ clients. Video makes a site more engaging. It’s an affordable way to get the attorney in front of a qualified prospect.
Additionally, as search engines continue to advance in their ability to serve all types of media in search results, video is key to building the digital arsenal, advancing beyond text and web pages, which will keep my clients competitive.
Another lesson is to keep the message simple. Good lighting and good sound will take you a long way but you don’t need high end production. When people see high production values they think of commercial TV and it can make the attorney seem too expensive and out of reach. We’re trying to reach a local audience and the more authentic our video, the better our chances of making a connection. I’ve found that our target audience is more inclined to relate to this type of video than an expensive, high production video.
One of the things that seems to stump people who want to do video is the technical piece – how do I shoot, edit it, etc. What do you advise?
Keep it simple. Do short (30 second) clips. Use good lighting. I’ve invested in good lights and a tripod that I use at every shoot. One of my clients got a great Logitech HD desktop camera and shoots directly from his desk. The video has great resolution and good audio. He’ll do a two-minute discussion of an issue and post it to his site from his YouTube channel. It looks and sounds great. It’s authentic.
Poor video quality, audio, lighting, and delivery can hurt you. If you choose to do video, it’s worth the time to explore, test, and do it correctly. Remember, once your video is on the web, it’s out there for all to see.
Attorneys are really knowledgeable about their subject matter. How do you plan out the content so that the layperson can understand the topic on the video?
The purpose of a video is not to answer people’s questions in their entirety, to resolve an issue or solve a complex problem. The purpose is to establish credibility. The attorney needs to let people know they are knowledgeable, that they’ve handled this sort of case before, and invite the prospect to call with questions.
Prior to shooting video I send each attorney an email with a list of questions to prepare them. For example, if we’re talking about divorce in a two-minute piece I recommend that they start off with a grabber like, “If you’re contemplating divorce in Massachusetts, here are three things you need to know.”
I help them script the video. I also closely direct during the shoot. If an attorney gets into the technical jargon or starts to wander I pull them in and we reshoot.
What are some of the opportunities in video that marketers are not taking advantage of?
I advise marketers to look for ways to repurpose their video assets. Don’t just use your video in one place, one time. There are lots of opportunities to leverage it in different areas. For example, on a Google places account. In the legal community there are sites like Avvo and Justia. Don’t just let it sit on your site waiting — proactively look for ways to make the most of it.